“Life and Politics: Nietzsche’s Early Critique of Kant’s Notion of Teleology in Living Organisms”

In 1868, Friedrich Nietzsche planned to write a dissertation on Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgement and, more specifically, on the concept of teleology as applied to living organisms that Kant had advanced in the second part of that work, titled “Critique of Teleological Judgement.” Eventually, Nietzsche abandoned the project, thus leaving us with a set of notes titled “On Teleology,” also known as “Teleology since Kant.” A reading of these notes will be the central focus this paper. By focusing on Nietzsche’s early perspectives on the notion of life, I wish to contribute to the understanding of the relationship between politics and life in his works and within the context of 19th Century post-Kantian philosophy. As recent scholarship has shown, Nietzsche’s interests in the conception of life and, more generally, in biology as such, cannot be separated from political considerations. Nietzsche’s reading of Kant can be studied from a ‘bio-political’ perspective. Such a perspective highlights, on the one hand, the non-exclusivity of the human within the realm of the natural. On the other, it establishes that politics begins with a particular interpretation of life itself.