Nietzsche, la pulsion, l’histoire // [Nietzsche, drives, history]

This study aims to understand the role played by history in Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy and its underappreciated relation to the introduction of the body (Leib) as its philosophical red-thread. Our main goal is to show how his philosophy was able to preserve the historiographical interests on his early period by transforming history’s importance in accordance with the body’s constitutive forces. Starting with his critical discussion of history during his professorship in Basel, we demonstrate how he understood the historical sense as a form of historical sensibility determined by an intuitive yet existentially demanding grasp of the past. We then describe the philosophical renewal of his middle period as a reduction of the history of metaphysics to pathological states that owes much to Michel de Montaigne’s skepticism, nascent evolutionary biology and the burgeoning neo-Kantian movement. By bringing moral and metaphysical values to determinate bodily states, Nietzsche introduces the body as philosophically significant. By a careful reading of contemporary science and its influence on Nietzsche’s thinking, we show how the deconstruction of human subjectivity into its primordial physiological existence culminates in a reinterpretation of biological heredity as a form of incarnate memory, which reduces the concept of biological species to that of morphological types. Finally, we return to our initial discussion of our historical sensibility in order to demonstrate how Nietzsche’s philosophy is through and through historical and seeks not to understand Becoming but to decisively synthesise and decide our historical destiny.