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Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
323 Dean St
Btwn 3rd & 4th avenues
New York, New York 11217
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Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14
Teacher: Matt Moss

What you'll learn in this history lesson:

This course will consider these questions by examining Nietzsche’s distinctive and radical conception of philosophy and its history, as well as his views on the nature and value of knowledge and truth. We will begin by considering how Nietzsche’s attack on popular morality and philosophical moral theory go hand in hand with bold theses in metaphysics and epistemology. We will ask: How should we understand the difference between a morality and an ethics, and why is this consequential? What does it mean to call for a “revaluation of values” — a new ethics, or way of life, that is not susceptible to the pitfalls of the old morality? And what is to be gained, rather than merely lost, by accepting Nietzsche’s view of humanity and its history? While very short secondary selections may be assigned, the course will primarily focus on close readings of Nietzsche’s own writings.

In the 1880’s, after quitting his job as a relatively obscure professor of classical philology in Switzerland, Friedrich Nietzsche published a series of philosophical polemics in which he subjected the institution of morality to a new and ruthless kind of critique. In texts such as Beyond Good and Evil and On The Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche argues that morality does not, as philosophers from Plato to Kant claimed, have its origin and ultimate justification in knowledge of universal principles. He urges instead that morality has a purely historical origin, which, when recognized, irreparably damages our conviction that moral beliefs correspond to timeless truths. Nietzsche locates this origin at a nexus of power struggles among groups that strove to subvert and dominate each other. Seen in this light, morality no longer seems to make legitimate, necessary, and exceptionless demands on human beings. Rather — and more provocatively — it comes to seem a harmful, even degrading part of human life. How can we understand this truly unique stance on moral philosophy? Is Nietzsche’s vision one of nihilistic horror? Or of human liberation and creative possibility? And how can a “genealogy” of how “we” learned to call certain actions, attitudes, and lifestyles “good” transform our understanding of the good itself?

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Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.


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Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

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School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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