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PHIL2040 Nietzsche

Semester 1, 2011-12


Fridays, 2:00-3:50pm


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is, undoubtedly, one of the most important philosophers of the modern period. His work has been an important source of inspiration, and exasperation, for many writers, artists, and philosophers during the 20th century and beyond. He has been grouped, along with Marx and Freud, as one of the three “masters of suspicion” who have profoundly altered the way modern individuals see themselves and their world. Many of his concepts, such as the Dionysian, the will to power, the overman, and ressentiment have taken their place in popular culture. However, Nietzsche is a difficult philosopher, one who makes enormous demands on his readers. In particular, Nietzsche’s style (of thought and expression) forces us to read slowly and carefully – as he says, to “ruminate”. In this course, therefore, we will slowly work through various selections from Nietzsche’s work, with a view to seeing to what extent it is still possible to “philosophize with a hammer” today.

Light Reading:

The person who wrote Nietzsche’s Obituary in the New York Times, in August 1900, might have benefited from taking this course – and from reading some of Nietzsche’s works! But, it does give a sense of what the respectable world thought of Nietzsche at the time.

This is interesting – but beware of the idea that only anglophones understand Nietzsche!! Brian Leiter on “Five Books on Nietzsche

And, just in case you thought Nietzsche had been forgotten in the 21st Century – here’s the renewed global financial crisis of 2011, as seen through a Dionysian lens: Germany’s Mediterranean Envy




Rumination (800 words): Mon Oct 10th:                         20%

First Essay (2000 words): Mon Oct 31st:                          40%

Second Essay: Mon Dec 5th:                                               40%

Two optional writing workshop/tutorials will be held during the semester – dates tba.

PLAGIARISM: You must consult this website:

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