Friedrich Nietzsche was a creative and changeable philosopher who produced writings with strikingly different styles as he passed through distinct phases of life. He addressed, in an unusually personal way, philosophy's most emotionally urgent questions: free will, moral obligation, religious faith (especially Christian faith), the distinctive value of creative activity and the relation of theoretical reflection to practical life, to name just a few. He was also an exceptionally learned writer who had profound criticisms of and observations about the great and not-as-great philosophers who preceded him. This class will take up different phases of Nietzsche's development, with readings from his earliest, middle and later periods.
The class will cover not only Nietzsche but also some of the people Nietzsche read, who shaped the environment he wrote in. For the early years, this will include Richard Wagner's writings, and one of his operas, Socrates (via Plato and Aristophanes), Schopenhauer and David Strauss, who wrote an influential book on the life of Christ. For his middle years, we will supplement some of the readings with chapters from a book by F.A. Lange called A history of Materialism and Criticism of it's Present Influence, which Nietzsche read and is known to have been influenced by.