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Gedächtnis und Leiblichkeit: Herkunft, Gefahr und Aktualität ihres Zusammenhangs

Guerreschi, Luca

Inst. Philosophie-, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte

In this paper, I approach the relation between memory and the corporeal. Firstly, I discuss the ambiguous relationship that Nietzsche maintained with the theory of organic memory, which contemplates memory as a primal faculty (Urvermögen) shared by all living matter. In doing so, I outline the main features of such theory by assessing the positions of nineteenth-century’s biologists and physiologists Ewald Hering, Ernst Haeckel and Wilhelm Roux. Secondly, I discuss some of the theoretical and political implications of the organic memory theory, which, in my view, are either dangerous or fallacious. To overcome this impasse, I argue that memory should be investigated not as an intrinsic quality of organic matter, but - following one of Nietzsche’s excerpts - “along the guiding thread of the body” (Leib), here to be understood in its broadest immaterial constitution. In the final part of the paper, I articulate this idea by comparing Nietzsche’s position with the notion of “body memory” (Leibgedächtnis) that Thomas Fuchs has recently developed in the field of phenomenological psychiatry.