RCHUMS 364 - Nietzsche's Last Year: Final Vision and Mental Collapse
Section: 001
Term: FA 2017
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
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In 1888, perceiving that his mental life was fast approaching its end, Nietzsche completed his last six works in a frenzy of intellectual creativity: The Wagner Case, Twilight of the Idols, The Anti-Christ, Nietzsche contra Wagner, Dithyrambs of Dionysus, and Ecce Homo. These surprisingly lucid and coherent final works summarize Nietzsche’s philosophic mission and represent its culmination. This course examines these final works to reveal the psychological coherence and intellectual virtuosity that informed Nietzsche’s philosophic career from his earliest writings to his complete collapse into insanity on January 3, 1889.

Nietzsche regarded himself as a cultural bomb-thrower, whose task was to explode the most deeply cherished and admired ideals and institutions of Western civilization, which, he believed, fed upon and generated intellectual atrophy, emotional exhaustion, and moral degeneration. As the self-appointed physician to a thoroughly decadent culture, Nietzsche set himself the task of diagnosing the nature of the illness, revealing its historical origins, and suggesting a radical cure in the form of the Superman. To this end, he posited the purely “this-worldly” ideal of the autonomous individual who lives beyond all moral strictures and generalizing definitions of the good, the normal, the natural, and the healthy – conceptual frameworks imposed by the Christian church, the democratic state, modern science, and bourgeois psychology — all designed to reduce and thus control the inner life, which he valued precisely because of its complexity and Dionysian energies.

No previous knowledge of Nietzsche is required. The seminar will begin by investigating his posthumously edited and published work The Will to Power, in order to define and summarize Nietzsche’s earlier philosophic investigations; the advent of nihilism, the death of God and metaphysics, and the rise of moral relativity. This seminar offers participants the opportunity to test the viability of Nietzsche’s new and experimental design for living: can a radical form of purely secular redemption be achieved by the self-affirming individual driven by the “Will to Power” to create a personal meaning in a meaningless world?

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RCHUMS 364 - Nietzsche's Last Year: Final Vision and Mental Collapse
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0141195355
The will to power : selections from the notebooks of the 1880s, Author: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900,
ISBN: 0521816599
The Anti-Christ ; Ecce homo ; Twilight of the idols : and other writings, Author: Nietzsche, Friedrich., Publisher: Cambridge University Press 2010
ISBN: 9781281085726
On the Genealogy of Morality. Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought., Publisher: Cambridge University Press 2007
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