Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the greatest philosophers of all time, and his work On the Genealogy of Morals (covered in this PEL episode) was arguably his masterpiece. Regardless of its ranking, it’s acclaimed by many as a work of sustained brilliance. The aphoristic style lends itself to piecemeal reading and discussion, and Nietzsche’s evocative writing can draw out both laughter and tears.
As laughing and crying all by oneself is a fairly good indicator of insanity, I’d like to invite as many people as possible to join us in the Not School Intro Class for November’s reading. As I iterate every month, and as every month it is worth reiterating, your interpretation of the work is welcome. Visceral reactions, misinterpretations, changes of opinion- these are all integral tools in coming to understand a philosophical work, and in creating an internal foundation that allows for the ultimate task of any philosophy student, the definition of one’s own philosophy.
Nietzsche was a fascinating man, a composer, a poet, and a lover who renounced his citizenship, but still served his country as a medical orderly. A genius, he ended his years with a complete loss of his mental facilities. While he was an extraordinarily talented thinker, he was also physically capable, and was an esteemed rider until he suffered an accident in the prime of his life.
The Genealogy is credited with influencing Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a radical derivation when taken in the context of Nietzsche’s life. This interpretation lends a gravity and visceral fascination to the readings, as it is impossible not to look for hints of where the treatise which propelled Nazi thought into attempted genocide could possibly have found its roots.
Head over, rant, rave. Laugh, cry. Above all, learn and teach.
You can read the text online for free here.