OverviewThis module concerns ideas of two of the most interesting of Western philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Both thinkers developed ideas that transformed much of the intellectual landscape of twentieth century, and both wrote books that prove fruitful for successive generations. They wrote on many themes: ethics, religion, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Both take their starting point from those thinkers that came before, notably Kant and Hegel. However, they are interesting to compare because they have such different views on philosophical thought and various themes. In particular, some of Nietzsches thought is framed explicitly in opposition to Schopenhauers, with the former casting the latter as the great pessimist. An appreciation of their ideas is an important part of the education of many philosophy students. However, both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche can be hard writers to read and understand. This module is designed both to introduce some of their ideas and develop a students appreciation of them such that he or she can discuss them with confidence and critical insight.
The module will not cover all of the writings of either or both thinkers. Students will typically read selections from Schopenhauers masterwork The World as Will and Representation and then selections from a variety of Nietzsches works, or one work in full. These will be read on their own, with ideas from both thinkers compared. Modern writers and commentators will be read in addition to help reveal the importance of Schopenhauers and Nietzsches ideas.
This module appears in:
1x 2hr lecture per week, 1x 1hr seminar per week for 11 teaching weeks.
Also available at Level 6 under code PL639
Method of assessment
Short essay (20%)
Short essay (20%)
Long essay (50%)
Seminar performance (10%)
Essays and Aphorisms (London), trans. R. J. Hollingdale
The World as Will and Representation (Dover), trans. E. F. J. Payne, two volumes.
The Birth of Tragedy (Penguin), trans. S. Whiteside
Human, all too Human (Penguin)
Beyond Good and Evil (Penguin)
Thus Spake Zarathustra (Penguin)
Christopher Janaway (1989) Self and World in Schopenhauers Philosophy (Oxford UP).
Christopher Janaway (1999) The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer (Cambridge UP)
Vandenabeele Bart (2012) (ed.) A Companion to Schopenhauer (Blackwell).
Ken Gemes and Simon May (eds.) (2011) Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy (Oxford UP).
Brian Leiter and Neil Sinhababu (eds.) (2009) Nietzsche and Morality (Oxford UP).
Richard Schacht (1994) Nietzsche, Genealogy, Morality: Essays on Nietzsches On the Genealogy of Morals (California UP).
By the end of this module, Level 5 students should be able to:
(11.1) Outline and show understanding through clear expression of a specific writing or writings by Schopenhauer.
(11.2) Connect that specific writing or writings of Schopenhauer to modern works and themes. Students should be able to comment on those themes and critically assess Schopenhauer's contributions.
(11.3) Outline and show understanding through clear expression of a specific writing or writings by Nietzsche.
(11.4) Connect that specific writing or writings of Nietzsche to modern works and themes. Students should be able to comment on those themes and critically discuss Nietzsche's contributions.
(11.5) Connect some of Schopenhauer's and Nietzsche's ideas to each other and critically compare them.