PHIL 471.001 – Hegel, Marx, and the Philosophical Critique of Society

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Instructor: Markus Kohl. This course meets R 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. via remote only instruction.

This course (which satisfies the Graduate Course Category “Modern History”) examines the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. We will study a number of his writings in chronological sequence. We will beginning with early work such as The Birth of Tragedy and then work our way towards later classics such as the Genealogy of Morals and the Antichrist. We will also cover a number of important secondary sources, and (possibly) some early receptions of Nietzsche that highlight his enormous socio-cultural and political impact.

Our focus will be on questions such as the following:
-What is Nietzsche’s (earlier, later) stance towards notions such as truth and objectivity?
-What are Nietzsche’s (earlier, later) views on pessimism and nihilism?
-What are Nietzsche’s reasons for rejecting conventional morality? Does he offer a posititive alternative value system?
-What are Nietzsche’s reasons for rejecting Christian religion?
-For what end or purpose does Nietzsche discuss the origins of moral values, religious doctrines, etc.? That is: what is the point of his genealogical method?
-What are the main problems that Nietzsche diagnoses for modern civilized culture and society? Does he offer a positive solution to these problems?
-Does Nietzsche have a coherent philosophical ‘view’ or ‘doctrine’ or ‘system’? Does he need one?

Students who are considering taking this class should be aware that it is a history of philosophy course that aims to understand Nietzsche’s writings in their own terms and in their historical context. The instructor will not try to make Nietzsche digestible in terms that contemporary ‘analytic’ philosophers are comfortable with. (One implication of that is that we will not consider whether one can ascribe to Nietzsche one of the many “isms” that are the subject matter of contemporary meta-ethics.)

Undergraduate students who are considering taking this class should be aware that it will be harder than 300 level classes, and much harder than 200 level classes: there will be more reading, a faster pace, and a higher level of abstraction.

Requirements: one 15-20 page end of term paper for graduate students. One short (4 page) midterm and one longer (10 pages) end of term paper for undergraduate students.

Please note: this course counts toward the “history” (NOT “value theory”) distribution requirement for PHIL grad students and undergrad PHIL majors and minors. This course will be exclusively on Nietzsche, NOT on Hegel or Marx.

Permission of the instructor is required to enroll in this course. PHIL grad students are exempt from this enrollment requirement.