As we’re wrapping up Plato’s Laws, if you want to start getting ready for the second half of 2016, you can pick up two of Friedrich Nietzsche’s seminal works, The Gay Science and Beyond Good and Evil. We will be finishing Plato first, but if you want to get a jump on the next set of readings this is your chance.
As with the previous readings, this project has three goals:
1) To pursue the discipline of reading and thinking carefully at least twice a week about a key work of political theory.
2) To read two books that are often either only read in part or not read at all.
3) To read in a communal setting with others interested in reflecting on these same goals. (So please do read along and comment!)
The second goal is perhaps less relevant with these books than with Plato’s Laws or the whole of Hobbes’s Leviathan, since Nietzsche does tend to be a staple across numerous college classes. But I suspect that his works are still read more often in excerpts than in whole—at least, I certainly didn’t read all of either of these books when they were assigned in college (apologies to my professors at the time!).
Background Reading Suggestions
Since the 1950s, Nietzsche scholarship in the English speaking world has grown far beyond the ability of any one person to follow. These suggestions are just that—suggestions of places to begin. Feel free to add anything critical that I’ve missed in the comments; I’ve no doubt missed a lot.
About Nietzsche: For Beginners
About Nietzsche: Advanced Reading
David Walsh, The Modern Philosophical Revolution: Luminosity of Existence
Frederick Beiser, German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism
Keith Pearson, Blackwell Companion to Nietzsche
Michael Gillespie, Nietzsche’s New Seas
The goal is to cover about twenty pages of text per week out of the Kaufmann translations of The Gay Science and Beyond Good and Evil (linked above) with posts going up on Nomocracy Tuesdays and Fridays.
Notice that I’ve excluded the poetry that precedes and follows each text. I will have a few comments to make about these lines in the first post on each book, but by and large I am unqualified to comment on poetry and lyrical writings and so I’ll be mostly passing over these sections. No doubt Nietzsche would be horrified. Or infuriated.
Thanks again to Peter Haworth and the editors at Nomocracy in Politics for making this project possible!
Coyle Neal is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, and cohost of the City of Man podcast.