Wednesday, November 04, 2009

DeCal Syllabus: Nietzsche's Hammer

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

Update (11/09/2009): The chair of the philosophy department, R. Jay Wallace, who is also going to be the advisor for the class, has approved the Nietzsche DeCal for next semester!

Here is the syllabus that I've prepared for the DeCal class on Nietzsche. I've decided to integrate the secondary literature into a course focused on comprehending Twilight of the Idols. This DeCal will either be available next semester or next year (however, considering that I am a Junior, and that Seniors have priority in creating DeCal classes, and that the Philosophy Department can only sponsor two DeCals, perhaps I will have to wait for next year). The Department Chair will decide which two classes to sponsor by this Tuesday, the 10th.

Philosophy 198 (2 units)
Spring 2010

Nietzsche's Hammer
An Introduction to the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

Course Overview:
This course seeks to convey a general understanding concerning the thoughts and ideas of the 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It is aimed at the introductory level, so students from all majors and philosophical backgrounds are encouraged to attend. However, a fruitful discussion will be dependent, in part, on the careful reading of the passages and the thoughtful contributions of the students. Approximately 6-14 pages of reading will be assigned per week (9.5 pages on average), and we will collectively discuss them during lecture. We will be covering the complete text of Twilight of the Idols (Götzen-Dämmerung) – a short book of about 80 pages that Nietzsche considered an introduction to his philosophy. As a supplement, we will also be reading three lucid articles of secondary literature.

Course Expectations:
(Students must fulfill
all expectations in order to receive two units to pass the course.)
Attendance – Students are expected to have no more than two unexcused absences.
Paper – Students are expected to write one five-page final paper on selected topics discussed in the course.
Participation – Students are expected to be prepared with assigned readings and engage in interactive discussions.

Course Materials:
We will be using the Cambridge translation of
Twilight of the Idols – translated by Judith Norman and edited by Aaron Ridley. The ISBN for the paperback is 0521016886. The text is bundled into a book with several other short works under the title, “The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols: And Other Writings.” ( link to the book.)
Handouts will be provided for the assigned readings of secondary literature.

Course Schedule:

Week 1 – Introduction
Lecture Tasks & Discussion:
*Short Biography of Nietzsche's Life
*19th-Century Germany & Europe
*Major philosophical influences on Nietzsche's thought
*Listen to “Brian Leiter on Nietzsche's Myths”
Reading for next week: Preface; Maxims and Arrows (i)

Week 2 – Morality
*Nihilism versus Affirmation (The Will to Nothingness; The Will to Power)
*Morality in the Pejorative Sense (MPS)
*Perfectionism & Freedom of Will (Stoics; Spinoza; Nietzsche)
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: The Problem of Socrates (ii); “Reason” in Philosophy (iii)

Week 3 – Reason / Being / Logos
*Physiognomic Perspectivism
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: How the “True World” Finally Became a Fable (iv); Morality as Anti-Nature (v)

Week 4 – Nature & Anti-Nature
*Descriptive components of MPS
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: The Four Great Errors (vi)

Week 5 – Causality
*Discuss Reading
*Define Epiphenomenalism
Reading for next week: “Nietzsche's Philosophy of Action” by Brian Leiter

Week 6 – Epiphenomenalism
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: “Nietzsche's Theory of Mind” by Paul Katsafanas (pages 1-14)

Week 7 – The Mind (1 of 2)
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: “Nietzsche's Theory of Mind” by Paul Katsafanas (pages 14-24)

Week 8 – The Mind (2 of 2)
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: The “Improvers” of Mankind (vii); What the Germans Lack (viii)

Week 9 – Interpretation / Education
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: Skirmishes of an Untimely Man (ix: §1-24)

Week 10 – Free Spirits & Art (1 of 2)
*Darwin & Lamarck
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: Skirmishes of an Untimely Man (ix: §25-51)

Week 11 – Free Spirits & Art (2 of 2)
*Discuss Reading
*Define Fictionalism
Reading for next week: “Honest Illusion: Valuing for Nietzsche's Free Spirits” by Nadeem Hussain

Week 12 – Fictionalism & Pragmatism
*Discuss Reading
Reading for next week: What I Owe to the Ancients (x), The Hammer Speaks (xi)

Week 13 – Conclusion
*Discuss Reading

Week 14 –
*Extra week to either focus longer on discussing the topic of one of previous weeks or to read an additional article of secondary literature.

(I may change the Katsafanas article from "Nietzsche's Theory of Mind" to "Nietzsche's Philosophical Psychology".)

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