Thoughts on pain. Friedrich Nietzsche and human suffering

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In Friedrich Nietzsche, the autobiographical theme of illness is inseparable from the philosophical problem of pain. While he reflects on his condition of the ill person, Nietzsche oscillates the human being like a pendulum. He defines him as the ill animal, as the most melancholic animal, but also as the most courageous and most used to pain, as the happiest animal who suffers so profoundly that he must invent laughter. Parallel to these anthropological writings, Niterzsche presents bold allegations against the desperate attempts, public or private, that the human being makes to remove the pain from its own existence or live as if it never existed. The hypocritical justifications, religious or secular, for those who which to find a sense of absurdity in suffering may meet with the comfort of modern society (science, politics, religion), who desperately take risks to mould a humanity without any evil. By considering his personal experience of illness as crucial, Nietzsche desires to experiment up to the point thought can resist and in which direction it takes whenever it is under the pressure of evil. His investigation shows how the negative cannot be eliminated from existence. However, it constitutes a necessary ingredient without which tears would signify too much joy, and one would never arrive at the laughter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • PAIN


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