Nietzsche, Einverleibung and the Politics of Immunity

Vanessa Lemm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


According to the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito, Einverleibung (incorporation or embodiment) is an immunzation device that offers a response to both lifes need for self-preservation and lifes need for cultivation. Esposito claims that with Nietzsche, the category of immunization has already been completely elaborated. This article addresses the problem of immunization in late modernity through an analysis of the Nietzschean conception of Einverleibung. Nietzsche recurs to two different semantics to understand the process of incorporation: on the one hand a semantics of appropriation according to which Einverleibung reflects a process of life through which ever more powerful wholes are constituted and preserved by the annihilating and excluding incorporation of the other; and, on the other hand, a semantics of creative transformation where Einverleibung is driven by a receiving and hospitable force, an openness to the other that furthers the pluralization and diversification of life. While the first logic of incorporation reflects the problem of the preservation of life by means of an immunization that carries with it all the dangers inherent to what Foucault refers to as thanatopolitics, Esposito raises the question of whether it is possible to preserve life by means of immunization without thereby destroying itself. This article argues that the idea of Einverleibung in Nietzsche understood as a creative transformation offers an answer to the question posed by Esposito. It moreover points to a different politics of immunity, where immunity does not name the including exclusion of the other, but the openness of life to the horizon of justice and community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


  • community
  • embodiment
  • Esposito
  • immunity
  • incorporation
  • Nietzsche


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