Friedrich Nietzsche: Truth and Morality
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.
In this class 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. Why must traditional values be overcome, and how do we do so? In what ways does the assault on objectivity impact other aspects of our lives, be they political, social, or scientific? And what kind of ethics remain once we have moved, as he urges us to do, “beyond good and evil?” Readings will include selections from The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, and the Genealogy of Morals.
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
November 16 — December 14, 2021
Class will not meet Tuesday, November 23rd.