Next week, on Tuesday, November 22nd, I will be conducting a discussion with the Brooklyn College Philosophy Department’s Philosophy Society titled “Without Cruelty There Is No Festival: Nietzsche and Philosophy”. This is the description I sent to our society co-ordinator Justin Steinberg (an amazing Spinoza scholar):
Rarely can there have been a philosopher as readable, controversial, infuriating (and possibly misunderstood) as Nietzsche. He earned little fame in his lifetime, spent the last years of his life insane, but ensured, through his devastating critiques of science, religion, morality and philosophy, a well-deserved and lasting fame as the father of post-modernism, the archest critic of the modern philosophical tradition, and possibly the most radical theorist of all time. His central doctrines of perspectivism, the death of God, the will to power, the OverMan, and the eternal recurrence, still repay close and careful study to unpack their metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical implications. In this discussion, I will attempt to introduce these doctrines and emphasize the continued relevance of studying Nietzsche.
The motivation for this discussion is to get students interested in a seminar on Nietzsche that I will be teaching in Spring 2012. Last spring, I had conducted a similar discussion on Freud in preparation for this semester’s Philosophy of Psychology class, and while I’m not sure that that discussion helped drum up vital registration for the class to run, it certainly helped me think a bit more about what I wanted to teach in the class, and how to approach its material. I’m hoping something similar will happen with this discussion on Nietzsche.
More fundamentally, I’d like more of our students here to be exposed to a unique philosophical style, and to a writer that sought to obliterate the distinction between form and content. There are many more reasons to study Nietzsche of course; one of them being, quite simply, that he is a very entertaining, thought-provoking read. If I can get any of my discussants next week to go out and start reading Nietzsche, I will consider myself successful.
In a future post, I will try and describe my experiences here at Brooklyn College, leading a faculty study group on Nietzsche.