Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

DeCal: Nietzsche on Truth and Autonomy

Update (01/13/2010): The website for the Nietzsche DeCal is now available with details on the course.

The University of California, Berkeley has a neat program called "DeCal," which is short for "democratic education at Cal." Their website is DeCal is a program in which students (mainly undergraduates) teach their own classes. This allows for some flexibility on topics and the combining of uncommon means for approaching a topic, e.g. a course on economic game theory with applications to the real-time strategy video game starcraft. In previous semesters, the philosophy department has endorsed deCal classes on Kierkegaard; here is one of the syllabi used during one semester.

I have been considering the possibility of teaching (or as they say, "facilitating") a deCal class on Nietzsche. I could teach this class either next semester or next year. The first half of the semester would introduce Nietzsche's ideas on Truth as they stand in contemporary secondary literature, while the second half of the semester would deal with Autonomy.

I was thinking of introducing each article of secondary literature in the following format. Let's say we were going to read Hussain's article on Nietzsche's fictionalism: "Honest Illusion: Valuing for Nietzsche's Free Spirits." First I would collect some information on fictionalism, let's say, the article, "Fictionalism," in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Then, (1a) I would assign the reading of this article, and (1b) we would outline and discuss the ideas during class. After that, (2a) I would assign the reading of a few pages of Nietzsche's aphorisms (these aphorisms will be primarily taken from whichever aphorisms are cited in Hussain's essay). Then, (2b) we will discuss these aphorisms and how they plausibly imply or fail to imply fictionalism. Finally, (3a) I would assign the reading of Hussain's actual article, "Honest Illusion," and (3b) we would discuss the article in class.

Another example: (1) Read and discuss the Stanford article on "Epiphenomenalism." (2) Read and discuss Nietzsche's related aphorims. (3) Read and discuss Leiter's article on Nietzsche's epiphenomenalism of the will, "Nietzsche's Philosophy of Action."

In this manner, I am hoping that (during the 15 weeks, 12 weeks in which readings can be done) we will be able to read 4 articles from the secondary literature: 2 articles on Truth, 2 articles on Autonomy.

At the present moment, I am contemplatng which articles would be good choices. These are my present candidates,

Nietzsche on Truth (Metaphysics & Epistemology):
1. "Perspectivism in Genealogy of Morals" by Brian Leiter
2. "Honest Illusion: Valuing for Nietzsche's Free Spirits" by Nadeem Hussain

Nietzsche on Autonomy (Mind, Action, & Metaethics)
3. "Nietzsche's Philosophy of Action" by Brian Leiter
4. "Nietzsche's Theory of Mind: Consciousness and Conceptualization" by Paul Katsafanas

Additionally, I will incorporate whatever useful educational media (audio or visual) I find (related to the topics or useful in understanding Nietzsche). Here is some media that I am considering,

1. "Brian Leiter on Nietzsche's Myths" from Philosophy Bites
2. "Christopher Janaway on Nietzsche on Morality" from Philosophy Bites
3. "Brian Leiter discusses Nietzsche on Morality" from Elucidations
4. suggestions?

5. suggestions?