Floraphilia: Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the Philosophical Significance of Plant-Life Open Access

Caryer, Lauren Elizabeth (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/dn39x172c?locale=en


As philosophers of "the will," Schopenhauer and Nietzsche are often characterized as advancing a philosophical psychology in which the self is a strongly defined individual who is engaged in highly agonistic relationships with others and with the world around him. The will is portrayed as the mechanism by which the individual organizes his surroundings to correspond to his needs. In this dissertation I argue that a closer examination of the function of the will in each philosopher coupled with close attention to the ways in which each figure deals explicitly with plant life and employs botanical imagery and metaphors, yields a picture of the way each philosopher understands the pre-subjective life-as-such which undergirds human consciousness and experience. The dissertation explores the two philosopher's understanding of the will as constitutive of desire. I argue that much of their work describes an appetitive model of life. I further argue that the works of both thinkers also contain elements of a very different way of understanding life and philosophical psychology. This second reading focuses on Schopenhauer's and Nietzsche's descriptions of plant life and their uses of plant imagery and metaphors. Using this reading, I present an alternative model of life, what I refer to as the vegetal model. This vegetal model of life privileges relationality over subjectivity, vulnerability over individual survival, and becoming over being. In the conclusion I will makes some initial comments on these themes of vegetal life and their usefulness to the discourse surrounding life in contemporary post-humanist, biopolitical, and environmental thought. I suggest that philosophical engagement with plant life would provide tools for these philosophical inquiries which complement and expand on recent thinking in the field of philosophy and animal life.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter One: The Appetitive Model and Schopenhauer's Metaphysics of Pain 21

Chapter Two: Vegetal Life as Still Life 65

Chapter Three: The Appetitive Model and Nietzsche's Affective Force 105

Chapter Four: The Garden and the Desert 129

Conclusion 164

Bibliography 184

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