Disgust, purity, and a longing for companionship

Dialectics of affect in Nietzsche’s imagined community

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6 Citations (Scopus)


In his writings, Nietzsche often figured his relationship to his contemporaries using corporeal imagery evocative of disgust. For instance, in On the Genealogy of Morality Nietzsche declares himself (and a hypothetical “we”) to suffer from mankind—which he then proceeds to describe as “maggot”- or wormlike. Nietzsche's philosophical project can be interpreted as a visceral protest against, and attempt to overcome (“digest”), humanity. This article argues that Nietzsche attempted through his writings to create a future community of like-constituted companions in his readers through a transmission of affect and education in taste. This would-be “community” is premised on a curious affective dialectic that seeks to transform disgust for humanity into a pure movement of self-creation. I examine the sociopolitical effects of this dialectic of disgust alongside Nietzsche's co-option of images of purity, in order to evaluate his response to modern nihilism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-68
JournalJournal of Nietzsche Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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