A Rarely Realized Classroom Ideal

Last night, in my graduate seminar–which carries the snappy title ‘From Schopenhauer to Freud (Via Nietzsche): Depth Psychology and Philosophy‘–my students and I spent the entire two hours of our class meeting time reading and discussing Section 354 of Nietzsche‘s The Gay Science. We each had a copy of the section in front of us; IContinue reading “A Rarely Realized Classroom Ideal”

Steven Pinker Should Read Some Nietzsche For Himself

Steven Pinker does not like Nietzsche. The following exchange–in an interview with the Times Literary Supplement makes this clear: Question: Which author (living or dead) do you think is most overrated? Pinker: Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s easy to see why his sociopathic ravings would have inspired so many repugnant movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,Continue reading “Steven Pinker Should Read Some Nietzsche For Himself”

Robert Morrison And Antoine Panaioti’s Nietzsche And The Buddha

Two recent books on Nietzsche and Buddhism–Robert Morrison’s Nietzsche and Buddhism: A Study in Nihilism and Ironic Affinities, and Antoine Panaioti’s Nietzsche and Buddhist Philosophy–do an exemplary job of examining, sympathetically and rigorously, some related questions of enduring philosophical interest: What is the relationship between Nietzsche’s writings and Buddhism? What were Nietzsche’s views on Buddhism?Continue reading “Robert Morrison And Antoine Panaioti’s Nietzsche And The Buddha”

A Persistent Difficulty In Teaching Philosophy Of Law

This semester, I’m teaching Philosophy of Law–again. My syllabus, as always, is a new one, and reflects an altered orientation and focus from those of days past. The current edition is fairly simple: it kicks off with Lon Fuller‘s ‘The Case of the Speluncean Explorers,’ excerpts from H. L. A Hart‘s The Concept of Law,Continue reading “A Persistent Difficulty In Teaching Philosophy Of Law”

Nietzsche As Pragmatist

Nietzsche is a pragmatist with strong resonances with the American pragmatists; this is not a new claim. Renè Berthelot, for instance, termed Nietzsche “a German pragmatist” and emphasized the resemblance between Nietzsche’s perspectivism and the pragmatist theory of truth.[1][2] The resemblance between Nietzsche and the American pragmatists [3] is made especial note of in Arthur Danto‘s NietzscheContinue reading “Nietzsche As Pragmatist”

Fascism And The Irrelevance Of ‘Truth’

Yesterday, a former student wrote to me, asking for clarification on something he had read in an online discussion group: We [Fascists] don’t think ideology is a problem that is resolved in such a way that truth is seated on a throne. But, in that case, does fighting for an ideology mean fighting for mereContinue reading “Fascism And The Irrelevance Of ‘Truth’”

Anticipating Another Encounter With Books And Students

This coming fall semester promises to be a cracker: I have the usual heavy teaching load of three classes (including two four-credit classes whose lectures will be one hundred minutes long, thus making for a very exhausting Monday-Wednesday sequence of teaching running from 9:05 AM to 3:30 PM, with an hour break between the secondContinue reading “Anticipating Another Encounter With Books And Students”

Nietzsche’s Inversion Of Natural Law In The Genealogy Of Morals

The radically constructive nature of legal and economic concepts emerges quite clearly in the brilliant second essay of The Genealogy of Morals. Here, Nietzsche sets out his view of how the concept of a contract creates persons, how the ethical subject is not found but made. For Nietzsche, the law, a set of human practices,Continue reading “Nietzsche’s Inversion Of Natural Law In The Genealogy Of Morals”

Prophecy And Propaganda As Compensatory Fantasy

In a footnote in his chapter on Herder in Three Critics of The Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2000, p. 231), Isaiah Berlin writes: Like other passionate propagandists, Herder pleaded for that which he himself conspicuously lacked. As sometimes happens, what the prophet saw  before him was a great compensatory fantasy. TheContinue reading “Prophecy And Propaganda As Compensatory Fantasy”

The Defenses Of United Airlines’ Behavior Reveal Some Uncomfortable Truths

There are, roughly, two kinds of defenses offered of United Airlines’ behavior–in DraggingGate–that have been offered thus far. First, the ‘abide by the terms of the contract’ defense. Second, the ‘just shut up and obey orders, and everything will be allright’ defense. On closer inspection, of course, these two turn out to be instantiations ofContinue reading “The Defenses Of United Airlines’ Behavior Reveal Some Uncomfortable Truths”