In this online class (May 12 – June 2, 2020), students will explore key Nietzschean concepts: the will to power, perspectivism, the “free spirit,” the übermensch, and the eternal recurrence of the same, among others. Readings include selections from The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, and the Genealogy of Morals.
Friedrich Nietzsche is among the most notorious and controversial thinkers in the western intellectual tradition. He aimed to philosophize “with a hammer,” to demolish the philosophical tradition founded by Socrates and Plato and slaughter its most sacred cows. Central to that tradition is the value placed on truth, reason, objectivity, and a moral system based on altruism and self-sacrifice. In contrast to forming the bedrock of a stable political and social order, Nietzsche provocatively argued that these values and ideals had made European culture sick. They had actually lead to a stultifying nihilism that has left us “physiologically depressed,” weary of life, and of ourselves. Using a method he called “genealogy,” Nietzsche launched an attempt to unearth and expose the true sources and evolution of our fundamental values in order to show why and how they should be overcome.