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Pols 471

Contemporary Debates in Social and Political Theory

Nietzsche
Spring 2016

Tuesday 14.00-17.00
Seminar Room, Washburn Hall

Ayhan Akman
ayhanakman.2013@gmail.com
Course Objectives:
This course will focus on one of the seminal figures of continental political philosophy: Friedrich
Nietzsche. Nietzsches thought has long been acknowledged to present one of the most trenchant
critiques of modern society, science, philosophy, art and politics. His insights into the nature of
truth, subjectivity and morality have been extremely influential on many of the major currents of
thought of contemporary philosophy; from the phenomenology of Heidegger to the existentialism
of Sartre, from the critical theory of Adorno and Horkheimer to the poststructuralism of Foucault. In
many crucial regards (including his questioning of the subject, truth and science) Nietzsche can be
said to stand at the end of modern philosophy, effecting the turn towards postmodernism.
This course will be organized around a close reading of some of Nietzsches major works from
different periods of his life. These primary readings will be supplemented by contemporary
secondary sources that offer interpretive help in making sense (and use) of some of Nietzsches
difficult and provocative ideas. The overall aim of the course will be to orient the students towards
an in-depth, sustained critical engagement with some of the foundational ideas of contemporary
philosophy and politics via a close reading of Nietzsches work. Issues that will be of special
interest include the nature of morality, ideology, politics and the state.
Readings:
The readings in the course are grouped under three headings:
First-Track Readings
Second-Track Readings
Supplemental Readings
First-track readings are the original writings of Nietzsche and they are mandatory for all students.
Second-track readings are primary sources by other authors (among them Sophocles, Hegel,
Auerbach and Borges) which are also required. They are meant to provide counter-points that can
enrich our reading of Nietzsches texts. Finally, supplemental readings are contemporary works of
Nietzsche scholarship: They constitute the secondary literature which can help us in our attempts to
decipher the idiosyncratic and often-times difficult to Nietzschean texts. Students will be expected
to read at least one piece from among these for each of the themes.
The primary texts of Nietzsche that we will focus on are:
The Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism (1872)
On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic (1887)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (1885)
We will also be reading additional sections from:
Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is (1888)
Will to Power (published posthumously, first ed. in 1901 and expanded second ed. in 1906)
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Coursework and Grading:


Students will be required to prepare a mid-term essay of approximately 7 double-spaced pages
on a concept that Nietzsche employs in The Birth of Tragedy. This will be submitted at the end of
Theme II. Students will then be expected to submit a carefully drafted, 5 page-long research
paper proposal at the end of Theme III. At the end of the semester, students will turn in their
original research paper of approximately 20 double-spaced pages. In addition to these,
occasional short assignments may also be handed out throughout the semester, to be counted
towards students participation grade.
Mid-Term Essay: (Due at the end of Theme II):
Paper Proposal: (Due at the end of Theme III):
Term Paper: (Due at the end of the semester):
Participation and Presence:

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Course Content:
Theme I: Nietzsche as a Scholar and a Provocateur
Weeks 1 - 2
First-Track Readings:
Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pp. 673-692, 715-726
Preface,
Why I am so wise
Why I write such good books
Supplemental Readings:
Ansel-Pearson, Keith (1994) A Question of Style? An Introduction to Reading Nietzsche in
An Introduction to Nietzsche as a Political Thinker, pp. 15-23
Magnus, B. and Higgins, K. M. (1996) Nietzsches Works and Their Themes in Magnus, B.
and Higgins, K. M. eds. The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Un.
Press. pp. 21-71
Solomon, Robert, Introduction: Reading Nietzsche in Solomon, R. C. and Higgins, K. M.
eds. (1988) Reading Nietzsche, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-13
Robert Pippin ed. (2012), Introduction in Introductions to Nietzsche, Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-17
Theme II: Between the Appollonian and the Dionysian
Weeks 3, 4, 5 and 6
First-Track Readings:
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism
Read Sections 1-25 (pp. 33-144) first and only after that read the preface
Attempt at a Self-Criticism (pp.17-33)
Nietzsche, Will to Power, selections:
Art in the Birth of Tragedy (#853), pp. 451-454
Dionysus (#1003-1052), pp. 520-544
Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pp. 726-732

Second-Track Readings:
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
Auerbach, Odysseus Scar from Mimesis
Supplemental Readings:
Ansel-Pearson, Keith (1994) Nietzsche and the Greeks: Culture versus Politics in An
Introduction to Nietzsche as a Political Thinker, pp. 63-83
Soll, Ivan, Pessimism and the Tragic View of Life: Reconsiderations of Nietzsches Birth of
Tragedy in Solomon, R. C. and Higgins, K. M. eds. (1988) Reading Nietzsche, Oxford, UK:
Oxford University Press, pp. 104-132
Geuss, Raymond (2012) Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy in Robert Pippin ed.,
Introductions to Nietzsche, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 44-67
Deleuze, Gilles (1983) The Tragic in Nietzsche and Philosophy, New York: Columbia
University Press, pp. 1-39
Theme III: On the Origins of our Modern Sense of Morality and Identity
Weeks 7, 8, 9 and 10
First-Track Readings:
Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals: A Polemic
Nietzsche, Will to Power, selections:
Critique of Morality (#253-303), pp. 146-170
Order of Rank (#854-934), pp. 457-493
Second-Track Readings:
Hegel, Lordship and Bondage, from The Phenomenology of the Spirit (#178-197)
Supplemental Readings:
Ansel-Pearson, Keith (1994) A Genealogy of Morals in An Introduction to Nietzsche as a
Political Thinker, pp. 121-147
Pippen, Robert (1997) Morality as Psychology, Psychology as Morality in Idealism as
Modernism: Hegelian Variations, Cambrdige, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 351-375
Horstmann, Rolf-Peter (2012) Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil in Robert Pippin ed.,
Introductions to Nietzsche, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 178-199
Deleuze, Gilles (1983) From Ressentiment to the Bad Conscience in Nietzsche and
Philosophy, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 111-147
Ansell-Pearson, Keith (2012) Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morals in Robert Pippin
ed., Introductions to Nietzsche, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 199-215
Theme IV: Nihilism, Overman and the Eternal Recurrence of the Same
Weeks 11, 12, 13 and 14
First-Track Readings:
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None
Nietzsche, Will to Power, selections:
The Great Human Being, (#961-971), pp. 504-509
The Highest Man as Legislator of the Future (#972-1002), pp. 509-520
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The Eternal Recurrence (#1053-1067), pp. 544-551


Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, pp. 751-766
Second-Track Readings:
Borges, short stories:
The Immortal
Garden with Forking Paths
The Lottery in Babylon
Supplemental Readings:
Ansel-Pearson, Keith (1994) Zarathustras Teaching of the Overman and The Perfect
Nihilist in An Introduction to Nietzsche as a Political Thinker, pp. 101-121 and 199-207
Higgins, Kathleen, Reading Zarathustra in Solomon, R. C. and Higgins, K. M. eds. (1988)
Reading Nietzsche, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 132-152
Pippin, Robert (2012) Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra in Robert Pippin ed.,
Introductions to Nietzsche, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 152-178
Deleuze, Gilles (1983) Active and Reactive and The Overman: Against the Dialectic in
Nietzsche and Philosophy, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 39-73 and 147-195
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