Honors | Nietzsche and Nietzscheanisms
P246 | 3120 | Eisenberg, P


1:00-2:15 MW   SY103

Nietzsche (1944-1900) has been one of the most influential philosophers of
the recent period. His influence has been felt, not only in various
twentieth-century philosophies, but also in some of its political movements
and in many of the most important works of art, in various media, produced
in this century. Moreoever, several of Nietzsche's great contemporaries who
cannot reasonably be thought to have been influenced by him are frequently
said to have responded in much the same way as did he to various aspects of
laste nineteenth-century culture. Thus a significant Nietzschean element (so
called) has been "discovered" in a large number of works, only some of which
have been allegedly influenced by Nietzsche's philosophy itself.

In this course I plan to spend approximately the first half in reading and
discussing with the students various works by Nietzsche himself, so that we
can, as a group, become pretty clear about what Nietzsche did or did not
mean, what he did or did not stand for. In the second half of the course I
shall, first, examine with all the students and in fairly close detail some
few examples of the (ostensible) Nietzscheanism in others' works. Partly in
an attempt to demonstrate the extent of real or apparent Nietzscheanisms in
late nineteenth- or twentieth-century culture and partly in an attempt to
give the students a suitable diversity of models for their own subsequent
analyses, I propose to examine (1) selected non-literary works of art (e.g.,
some of Van Gogh's paiontings or symphonies by Mahler), (2) Shaw's Man and
Superman, (3) extracts from the propagandistic and quasi-philosophical
writings of certain nazis, and (4) Sartre's philosophical novella nausea and
extracts from Being and Nothingness.

The large questions to ber broached but, presumably, not resolved in these
latter investigations include, among other: (1) What are the conditions
which must be met for it to be true that someone has influenced someone else
in the latter's creative work? (b) In particular, must someone's (apparently
sincere) claim that s/he has been influenced by someone else always be taken
at face value? (c) How can non-verbal works of art be said to express
(philosophical) ideas? Naturally, the more particular questions to be
investigated will concern the reality (vs. the mere appearance) of genuinely
Nietzschean elements in the works discussed, and the importance or the
extent of the Nietzscheanisms in them.

All the students will work with me on several of the examples of real or
ostensible Nietzscheanisms listed above. Additionally, I shall assign each
student the task of reading (or, in the case of the non-literary works
involved, listening to or otherwise observing) one more example drawn, as
the student chooses, from a list which I shall supply. I expect to discuss
with each student individually the options involved. The students' final
project will be to write an approximately fifteen-page paper, discussing the
real or the merely apparent Nietzscheanism(s) in the work or works which
they have selected and the aspect(s) of the work or works which make them
also non- or even anti-Nietzschean. In addition to that project, there will
be a required mid-semester exam (exclusively on Nietzsche) and a final exam,
both of the essay type.