Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

Course No. 415
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Course No. 415
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Course Overview

"God is dead."

"The Superman."

"The Will to Power."

"The Eternal Recurrence."

Among shapers of contemporary thought—including Darwin, Marx, and Freud—Friedrich Nietzsche is perhaps the most mysterious and least understood. His aphorisms are widely quoted, but as both man and thinker he remains an enigmatic figure, "philosophizing with a hammer" and hurling unsettling challenges to some of our most cherished beliefs.

Who was this eccentric German genius? This lonely and chronically ill, yet passionate, daring, and complex seeker?

  • Was he a proto-Nazi, or would he have found Hitler despicable?
  • Who was this man who caustically attacked the Christianity of his day but who wept openly when he saw a horse mistreated in the street?
  • Why are his brilliant insights so relevant for today?
  • How did he become the most misinterpreted and unfairly maligned intellectual figure of the last two centuries?

Professor Robert Solomon is the Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin and a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

He has received several awards for excellence in teaching, including a Fulbright Lecture Award and a Standard Oil Outstanding Teaching Award.

In his precise yet conversational style he weaves biographical detail, abstract analysis, and humor, constructing an engaging, well-rounded portrait of the most enigmatic, complex figure in all of philosophy. He is joined in many lectures by his wife and fellow Nietzsche scholar, Professor Kathleen Higgins, also of The University of Texas at Austin.

A Lonely Genius's Quest

Nietzsche's body of work has been enormously influential, but it consists of a hodgepodge of reflections, accusations, bits of psychoanalysis, church and secular history, advice to the lovelorn, moral reminders, and some forgeries created by Nietzsche's nefarious sister.

To provide shape to Nietzsche's thought, each lecture focuses on specific ideas that preoccupied Nietzsche while tracing the profound themes that give meaning to his work.

Lectures 1 through 3 provide a context within which we can better understand Nietzsche's life and work. These are essential and foundational introductions to him. Professors Solomon and Higgins:

  • Debunk the myths, rumors, and misunderstandings surrounding Nietzsche. (They show, for example, that he was not insane, misogynistic, power-mad, anti-Semitic, or amoral.)
  • Connect his thought to that of his predecessors Socrates, Plato, Jesus, and Schopenhauer and that of his near-contemporaries Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Marx, and Freud.
  • Investigate how Nietzsche's method of explaining human beliefs and practices in terms of personality and character (as opposed to justifying them through reason) enabled him to refute Socratic assumptions, English utilitarianism, Christian compassion, and Schopenhauer's pessimism.
The Death of God and The Birth of Tragedy

Lectures 4 through 8 explore Nietzsche's subtle and complex critique of both religious belief and Greek rationalism.

  • What did Nietzsche mean when he declared "God is dead"? We see that Nietzsche did not seek to condemn true spirituality but to question the mindset that insists on eternity, that is obsessed with unity and coherence, and that demands predictability and justice in a world that is neither predictable or just.
  • We examine Nietzsche's near-worship of pre-Socratic Greek culture and his championing of instinct, passion, and aestheticism.
  • We study Nietzsche's first work, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), famous for its brilliant analysis of the creative tension between the cults of rational Apollo and ecstatic Dionysus in pre-Socratic Greece.
  • We see how Nietzsche contrasts tragedy, which accepts suffering and makes something beautiful out of it, with Platonic, Socratic, and Christian thought, which he accuses of trying to deny the meaning of suffering by invoking a superior, otherworldly life.

Lectures 9 through 11 focus on Nietzsche's famous style, which deftly combines the majesty of the prophet, the force of the Homeric warrior, and the lyricism of the poet, but which nonetheless is rife with fallacies, inconsistencies, exaggerations, and scathing personal attacks.

Harsh but Insightful Criticisms

In lectures 12 through 15, Professor Solomon takes a closer look at Nietzsche's harsh but insightful criticisms of the intellectual currents of his time—Christian moralism, evolution, socialism, democracy, and nationalism. Here we meet Nietzsche the "moral psychologist," who revolutionized our understanding of the "human, all too human" motives that underlie our beliefs.

  • Is Nietzsche correct that "every philosophy is a personal confession and an unconscious memoir"?
  • Are pity and laughter just forms of dominance and power?
  • How much of morality is, in fact, a scheme to bring down one's superiors through guilt? How do repression, religion, and rationalization assist in this scheme?
  • How does Nietzsche criticize previous ideals of love?
  • Is Nietzsche a powerful anti-nihilist? Is he correct in rejecting the utilitarian's moral guideline "the greatest good for the greatest number" as a nihilistic rejection of life? (He says: "Man does not live for pleasure; only the Englishman does.")
  • How does Nietzsche's "morality of virtue" contrast with Judeo-Christian morality? And how does he argue that 2,000 years of Christianity enriches and spiritualizes "healthy" morality?

In Lectures 16 through 20, Professor Solomon pulls back and attempts to summarize Nietzsche's preoccupations. In a nod (and a wink) to our times, he compiles "top-ten lists" of both Nietzsche's favorites and his favorite targets. You will be intrigued to see who makes both lists! Also in this section, we encounter Nietzsche the historicist and Nietzsche the "immoralist," and discover the source of his vitriolic personal attacks.

The final four lectures examine Nietzsche's highly unorthodox "genealogy" of morality, as well as his most enduring image, that of the Ubermensch (super-man or over-man), and the notion of the will to power and "the eternal recurrence." Because these concepts have been misappropriated as rationalizations for monstrous behavior, they are usually misunderstood. You learn:

  • How the will to power explains our need for self-expression
  • How the Ubermensch is an expression of the innate human yearning for excellence
  • How Nietzsche characterizes the alternative to the Ubermensch—the "last man," who can quickly be sketched as the "ultimate couch potato" and the final fruit of utilitarian philosophy.

The "eternal recurrence" is Nietzsche's powerful, personal test. If you knew that you would live your life again and again for eternity, is it the life you would will? In short: do you in fact love your life? This is not a nihilist's question. It is a powerful call to full awareness and action in life.

Nietzsche's Love of Life

As you make your way through these lectures, you'll discover that Nietzsche, even at his most polemical and offensive, exudes an unmistakable enthusiasm and love of life. In fact, you'll see that his exhortation to learn to love and accept one's own life, to make it better by becoming who one really is, forms the project that is the true core of his work.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Read Nietzsche? His Life, Times, Works, and Themes
    The opening talk in the series provides an overview of Nietzsche's life and the remarkable historical period in which he lived. We also survey the sequence, context, and overarching themes of his works, and catalog the influences upon him. x
  • 2
    Quashing the Rumors About Nietzsche
    Professors Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins invalidate the spurious rumors surrounding Nietzsche, for example, that he was insane, misogynistic, nihilistic, anti-Semitic, power-mad, relativistic, and amoral. x
  • 3
    The Fusion of Philosophy and Psychology
    We investigate how Nietzsche's method of explaining human beliefs and practices in terms of personality and character (as opposed to justifying them through reason) enabled him to refute Socratic assumptions, English utilitarianism, Christian compassion, and Schopenhauerian pessimism. Nietzsche's procedures were similar to those used by Dostoyevsky, Marx, Freud, and, ironically, the Christian existentialist Kierkegaard. x
  • 4
    “God Is Dead”—Nietzsche and Christianity
    With this infamous pronouncement, Nietzsche seeks not to condemn true spirituality, but to question the mindset that insists on eternity, that is obsessed with unity and coherence, and that demands predictability and justice in a world that is neither predictable or just. Nietzsche never fully escapes his Lutheran upbringing, which shapes his ideas about Christian hypocrisy and passivity, and influences his "war" on guilt and sin. x
  • 5
    Nietzsche and the Greeks
    Nietzsche virtually worshipped the pre-Socratic period in ancient Greece, in particular, the tragedians Aeschylus and Sophocles and the philosopher Heraclitus. Are they the source of his whole philosophy? Moreover, why did Nietzsche rail so harshly against Socrates's and Plato's celebration of reason and accuse Euripides of "murdering" tragedy? x
  • 6
    “Why the Greeks Were So Beautiful”—Nietzsche on Tragedy
    Nietzsche's first work, The Birth of Tragedy (1872), is especially noteworthy for its brilliant analysis of the creative tension between the cults of rational Apollo and ecstatic Dionysus in pre-Socratic Greece. How did Nietzsche contrast tragedy, which accepts suffering and makes something beautiful out of it, with Platonic, Socratic, and Christian thought, which he accuses of trying to deny the meaning of suffering by invoking a superior, otherworldly life? x
  • 7
    Nietzsche and Schopenhauer on Pessimism
    Schopenhauer, the severe pessimist, is a looming presence in Nietzsche's thought. Nietzsche felt the weight of Schopenhauer's pessimism, and struggled to counter it by embracing "cheerfulness," creative passion, and an aesthetic viewpoint. x
  • 8
    Nietzsche, Jesus, Zarathustra
    Why did Nietzsche feel such a sense of close identification with the ancient prophets Jesus, Socrates, and Zarathustra (Zoroaster)? What was Nietzsche up to in his oddest but best-known book, the Biblical parody Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which introduces the concept of the Übermensch and its evolutionary alternative, the "last man"? x
  • 9
    Nietzsche on Reason, Instinct, and Passion
    In some sense a Romantic thinker, Nietzsche went against the grain of Enlightenment philosophy by debunking the primacy of reason in human life and defending instinct and passion. How did Nietzsche anticipate Freud's notion of the unconscious? x
  • 10
    Nietzsche’s Style and the Problem of Truth
    We subject to analysis Nietzsche's eccentric style of writing and argument, including his use of aphorisms, personal attacks, and appeals to emotion. We also scrutinize Nietzsche's often-exaggerated views about truth and interpretation. x
  • 11
    Nietzsche on Truth and Interpretation
    Here is a still-closer look at Nietzsche's inconsistent ideas about truth and interpretation. These include his assessment of science at various stages of his work, and his pragmatic "perspectivism," which rejects the idea that there is a privileged, objective, absolute, or "God's eye view" of reality. x
  • 12
    “Become Who You Are”—Freedom, Fate, and Free Will
    Now we turn to Nietzsche's politics, including his harsh views on socialism and democracy, his subtle views on freedom and free will, his celebration of fate, and his notorious views on the "great man." Accordingly, we discuss Nietzsche's mixed view of Darwin's theory of evolution, how Hegel both anticipated and countered some of Nietzsche's main concerns, and how Nietzsche and Kierkegaard reveal themselves to be kindred spirits in their reaction to Hegel. x
  • 13
    Nietzsche as Moral Psychologist—Love, Resentment, and Pity
    What were Nietzsche's ideas about the connection between personality, morality, and philosophy? What insights does he offer into the motivations underlying compassion? Is Nietzsche explaining rather than justifying (or attacking) morality? x
  • 14
    Nietzsche on Love
    Was Nietzsche misanthropic and misogynistic? How do his ideas on love and friendship, which he saw as intimately related, compare to those of his predecessors, especially Plato and Aristotle? Does Nietzsche, properly understood, actually anticipate many of the theses of contemporary feminism? x
  • 15
    Nietzsche and Women
    Professor Kathleen Higgins examines the claim that Nietzsche was a misogynist. She parses some of Nietzsche's most famous (or notorious) remarks about women, and suggests that they are not the blatantly sexist utterances they are often thought to be. x
  • 16
    Nietzsche’s “Top Ten”
    Professors Solomon and Higgins catalog those thinkers whom Nietzsche most admired, and those whom he attacked. x
  • 17
    Nietzsche on History and Evolution
    Nietzsche believed that any understanding of human affairs is necessarily grounded in a particular time and culture. What was his view of history and its uses and abuses? How did he interpret Hegel and Darwin? What hopes for human evolution did he harbor? What is the source and shape of his concern with what is conducive to and what is destructive of life? x
  • 18
    What Is Nihilism? The Problem of Asceticism
    Is Nietzsche himself a nihilist, or is his entire philosophy in fact an attack on nihilism? Why did he denounce as "decadent" such things as truth, religious belief, egalitarianism, reason, otherworldliness, and, particularly, asceticism? x
  • 19
    The Ranking of Values—Morality and Modernity
    Why did Nietzsche refuse to think of values as being either objective or subjective? Why did he hold that values are earthly and culture- and species-specific? Why did he argue that, in the final analysis, there are only healthy and unhealthy values, and that modern values are unhealthy? x
  • 20
    Nietzsche “Immoralism”—Virtue, Self, and Selfishness
    Is Nietzsche's notorious "immoralism" actually an embrace of Homeric ethics? How is it that in his ethical system, personal virtue and character count far more than rational rules and principles, and selfishness and morality are not mutually exclusive? x
  • 21
    On the Genealogy of Morals—Master and Slave Morality
    We examine the books Beyond Good and Evil (1886) and On the Genealogy of Morals (1887), wherein Nietzsche details his conception of master versus slave morality. His Genealogy of Morals is an attempt to uncover and evaluate the historical roots of these two types of morality. This lecture also examines the idea of "resentment," which provides the basis of Nietzsche's moral psychology. x
  • 22
    Resentment, Revenge, and Justice
    We continue our discussion of Nietzsche's idea of resentment, adding to it his ideas about revenge and justice. We revisit his condemnation of asceticism, the self-denial that is often a part of extreme religious practice, in light of these new ideas. x
  • 23
    The Will to Power and the Übermensch
    This lecture considers two of Nietzsche's alleged "doctrines": the Will to Power and the over-man. It analyzes the psychological significance of the former, as well as its Schopenhauerian origins. Then it links the two doctrines by analyzing the Übermensch as the full manifestation of the will to power. x
  • 24
    Eternal Recurrence—Nietzsche Says “Yes!” to Life
    We conclude by extending our scrutiny of three of Nietzsche's most famous doctrines: the Will to Power, the Übermensch, and the eternal recurrence of the same. Finally, we evaluate Nietzsche's emphasis on "saying 'yes!' to life." x

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Your professors

Robert C. Solomon Kathleen M. Higgins

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Robert C. Solomon, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin

Professor 2 of 2

Kathleen M. Higgins, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Robert C. Solomon was the Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for more than 30 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania and his master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of Michigan. He held visiting appointments at the University of Pennsylvania; the...
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Dr. Kathleen Higgins is Professor of Philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin, where she has been teaching for over 20 years. She earned her B.A. in Music from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University. Professor Higgins taught at the University of California, Riverside, and she is a regular visiting professor at the University of Auckland. Her...
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Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 77.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Good Lecture This is an excellent lecture, the professers are very engaging and are genuinely interested in the topic. Nietzsche's views have been very misunderstood and Professor Solomon and Professor Higgins present all arguments and attempt to set the record straight. Anyone who has wondered about Nietzsche but did not know anything about his philosophy should start here.
Date published: 2010-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive... and Potentially Life-Changing! Professor Solomon begins his class on Nietzsche with the words, “Hi. I’m Bob Solomon... I’m in love with Nietzsche.” By the time the student gets to the end of the course, he finds out what Solomon is talking about, because he too has fallen in love with Nietzsche, or at least, has a much better and a much more profound appreciation for Nietzsche’s life and thought. Solomon leads us through a very thorough-going examination of Nietzsche the human being, and also the central ideas which constitute Nietzsche’s philosophy, especially the “Will to Power” and the “Eternal Occurrence.” Professor Solomon discusses the classical influences of the Greeks and also the contemporary influences of Hegel, Kant and Schopenhauer upon Nietzsche’s thought. Nietzsche’s reputation greatly precedes him. Even those who study his philosophy tend to make gross generalizations about him – that he was a misogynist, or a misguided sickly man who made up a vicarious philosophy as a counterbalance to the miserable life that he lived, or a notorious atheist, or, worse yet, the philosophical precursor to the Nazis! Professor Solomon takes special pains to weed out the garden of Nietzsche’s reputation in order to give us a more accurate, comprehensive view of his philosophy. Professor Solomon’s wife, Kathleen Higgins, is appropriately called upon to address the misogynistic interpretations of Nietzsche’s thought, and I thought both did a rather good job in dispelling the common myths which have obfuscated Nietzsche’s work and which have made him misunderstood and reviled today! For myself, one of main problems that I had before undertaking this course was in understanding how a morality of a “will to power” might hold up under a Kantian analysis, and whether Nietzsche’s wanting to suspend a universal rationalistic ethics was valid. Once one understands Nietzsche’s theory of how ethics came to be, and how Kant universalizes this ethic on all humanity, it becomes easier to understand why Nietzsche rejects it as a “slave morality,” and he poses the question for us to consider, “This is my way (the master morality,) where is yours?” Instead of relying on a universal ethic valid for all time, Nietzsche makes us search for a ethic which is appropriate for us only in the context of its being valid for us in our limited time on this earth. The ethic is justified by the fact that we ought to love and appreciate our lives as our great gift, and not throw it away for a better world to come or for a moral code which treats us merely as a “member of humanity” and not for the unique individual that we are, and for the unique individual lives that we must live... even as we live them before God (though the world believes He is dead!)! Nietzsche forces us to rely not on truths which are true for all, but only for truths that are only true and peculiar for us in particular, for which we know are true deeply held within ourselves, or which we must create, and by which we must act upon for our own personal reasons, and upon which we will ultimately live and die over and over again for all eternity (Nietzsche’s "eternal recurrence" theme.) For those of us who have been lacking in a great passion of love or life, or feel they have been caught up in an alien morality, or who suffer under the great sway of oppressive massive mentality, Nietzsche’s thought has the potential to be a profound liberating force in our lives. With regard to Professor Solomon himself, I am very impressed with his ability to make difficult philosophy easy to understand and to make the student to feel sympathy for the subject. I was also impressed that he took the time to explain why he dropped out of medical school, and how Nietzsche’s philosophy helped him to arrive at that decision. I suspect that Professor Solomon could easily teach Greek or medieval philosophy as easily as he does nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy. His soft-spoken manner and earnest demeanor make us respect his sensitivity and openness, while creating earnest interest in his own passion for the material. I think Nietzsche would say that the future is something upon which we will, we determine, we act upon. To those who are interested in taking this course, I will say that this introduction to Nietzsche’s thought has the potential to be a life-changing experience! The course will not be a substitute for reading Nietzsche’s own books, of course, but I believe the student will be in a much better position to understand and appreciate the genius of Nietzsche’s life’s work. This course moved me so much that the first thing that I did upon completing the last lecture was to watch the movie, “When Nietzsche Wept.” [2007] It was a testament to Professor Solomon’s teaching that I was able to appreciate and feel the power of Nietzsche’s life and thought leap across a hundred years to come alive in this movie and that it made me want to rise above and change my own attitudes and convictions regarding living the rest of my life. I believe that something of the same might also happen to those who take Nietzsche’s message to heart!
Date published: 2009-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Joyous Presentation of Nietzsche I love Professor Solomon's joyous treatment of the existentialists and Nietzsche. His courses and books have been life-changing for me. This course is very good, but suffers a bit from some clumsy interplay between Professsor Solomon and Professor Higgins. They're both very good, but in this case the whole was not greater than the sum of the parts. Even so, the course is excellent. It gets at Nietzsche's basic ideas, which is extremely valuable, given how challenging his writings are. Keep in mind, though, that you're getting Solomon's take on Nietzsche, which is more positive than most. I like it, but if you're looking for a neutral view on Nietzsche, this isn't it.
Date published: 2009-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful Information after reading Nietzsche This course really worked well for me but it was only because I slugged through all of Nietzsche's works as an undergraduate. The course really helped solidify his major concepts and explained some of the areas where you can misinterpret Nietzsche's convoluted ideas. I imagine this course could be confusing for someone who has not read anything by Nietzsche, so I recommend getting to know him by reading some of his works before listening to this course. I think it would help make the experience of this course more worthwhile because Solomon and Higgins assume you are familiar with his works and main concepts. RIP Robert Solomon. He lives on with the teaching company, and I think that is what he and Nietzsche were both after in life.
Date published: 2009-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Will the real Nietzsche please stand up? I zipped through the audio version, delighted by the depth of these two professors, and spurred on by their enthusiasm. (I couldn't help imagining what this brainy, married couple discuss over dinner.) Dr. Solomon resonates with me because I believe that intellect, especially in the 21st century, is highly over-rated. Solomon is a profound student of emotion, and fully develops Nietzsche's theme that the fullest meaning of life is not found in mere reason, but in the 'passions.' We need to find the work we love, and keep on working; if we stop, the last human will perish in 'selfish obsession with comfort.' This really hit home for me and my own life. 'Will to Power' is a great companion course to Solomon's 'Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions.' Like Nietzsche, I also suspect that perhaps we should reject the primacy of reason; unconscious drives and instinct, like it or not, may well rule over us. Passion INCLUDES reason, not vice-versa. I also suspect that science, even in 2009, too often becomes dogmatic in a world where we really cannot 'figure it all out.' I become rather alarmed when I hear scientists doggedly asserting there is now a 'scientific consensus' on an issue while real debate continues to rage on at the same time. There are only interpretations of what we believe is true. Our escape might be in our freedom to create, but this route likely is biologically predetermined, and fate may ultimately trump everything. Paradoxically, I find this comforting. It just 'feels' right -- at least for me. When I finished this course, I felt I had a better handle on Nietzsche because Solomon and Higgins spent plenty of time debunking the myriad myths about him and carefully clarifying his numerous ideas and positions. Highly recommended, especially if you want a solid, in-depth, philosophical explanation of the old bumper sticker slogan: KEEP ON TRUCKING.
Date published: 2009-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good overview I liked the course. I thought the use of two instructors helped keep me engaged in the course as well. There is no question that the two instructors were Nietzswche apologists, but I felt they presented what the challenges were with their subject in an honest way. The course helped me gain an understanding of Nietzsche perosnally and his writings.
Date published: 2009-07-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Valuable Introduction This course was a valuable introduction for me to the writings of Nietzsche. I recommend the course, with just a few minor qualifications. Profs Solomon and Higgins attempt to clarify what is most controversial about Nietzsche, summarize his most significant ideas, and provide insights into his personal life. The first of these objectives, clarifying controversies in an open defense of Nietzsche, seems to be their primary concern in developing this course. Unfortunately these were the least interesting points for me. I felt that too much time was spent defending criticisms of Nietzsche's views regarding war, love, women, morality, etc.; since these arguments tend to be subjective and depend on details too minute for my interest. I was much more interested in the larger ideas Nietzsche had and in the aspects of his personal life and times that contributed to them, of which there was plenty of discussion to keep me engaged. Similar to other reviewers, I found the presentations distracting in a number of ways. First, Dr. Solomon's speaking style is choppy and unpleasant. Second, the format of two speakers is not successful here. Dr. Solomon dominates the course while Dr. Higgins makes inputs somewhat sporadically. The reasons she appears when she does (sometimes for as little as three or four sentences) are never made clear and I began to think that Dr. Solomon offered her these "guest appearances" as a favor. It's regrettable that she did not have more lecture time as she is the better speaker of the two. But the greatest distraction is when both professors lecture together, in an awkward interplay that leaves the listener - at least in my case - feeling left out. These lectures ("Quashing the Rumors About Nietzsche" and "Nietzsche's Top 10") are also the most frivolous of the 24 lectures. Despite these criticisms, the information presented in this course stripped away much of the mystery surrounding Nietzsche and left me thinking that his books would be more accessible to me, a layman, than I had previously feared. I suspect this course is better as an introduction for people who have not yet read Nietzsche than as a study aid for those who have.
Date published: 2009-06-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good at context; delivery needs work Let's face it -- people may have heard some extreme ideas about Nietzsche. Solomon and Higgins seem to expect that and try to debunk some of the more superficial ones that listeners may have gotten from other sources. In an evenhanded scholarly way, they succeed admirably at making Nietzsche seem more "normal" than he may at first look. It is important that earlier philosophers are discussed, because to the extent that Nietzsche was reacting to them, it's necessary to know what their ideas were. Nietzsche was a classical philologist, at play with earlier ideas, after all, and so some exposure to ideas of the Greeks and of the German Enlightenment is crucial. I appreciated having Nietzsche's ideas put into context. Solomon and Higgins do discuss Nietzsche's life and times, and how this affected his outlook, so some of the other comments about the lectures seem inaccurate. Treat the lectures as an introduction to Nietzsche's thought and as an aid to reading the works, not as a substitute for reading them. It is hard to read Nietzsche without any introduction, and I think Solomon and Higgins put you in a good position to do so. My main concern about this title was Professor Solomon's vocal presentation style. His phrasing is too choppy, so it can be hard to follow his train of thought. I would have preferred a smoother style that carries ideas in whole sentences and paragraphs together. Too often, Solomon hesitates at inappropriate places in the middle of a sentence, holding on to less significant words. Next time, he needs to have more takes at the microphone, or let Higgins read the text.
Date published: 2009-05-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Never Mind The lecturers seem to conclude that Nietzsche didn't really mean a thing he said. He just wanted people to live full and vibrant lives. Well, who doesn't? They leech all of the force from N's writing, the urgency and integrity of his thought. He comes off as an Emersonian, at best. N is far more interesting, I believe, than the lecturers seem to believe. Everything he wrote about--the will to power itself--is reduced to a metaphor for something far milder and less compelling than (I believe) is the case. You wonder, if N was this boring, why the lecturers devoted their professional lives to studying him.
Date published: 2009-03-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Ex-Nietzsche admirer My curiosity in Friedrich Nietzsche started by viewing a dvd, "Nietzsche and the Nazis" which I found very interestiing. I started researching him and found an almost completely different person than what was described in the movie. My curiosity grew more with his aphorisms, Superman, Will to Power, etc. I had bought other courses from The Teaching Company and thought this course would complete my interest in this man. What I found is the extentialism philosophers to be somewhat lacking in depth as a human being. Their inner being is cold to a large extent. If this course is a thorough examination of Nietzsche and his work, then they missed the mark or perhaps Nietzsche is highly overrated.
Date published: 2009-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent course to supplement studies. This is a very helpful course for one studying Nietzsche, it has fantastic replay value and I often find myself returning to the lectures only to enjoy a remarkable new insight. If one would like to be fully rewarded by this course, I suggest purchasing the three texts recommended by the course authors and giving them serious study, reading them and re-reading them and returning to the course. This should give one a good solid foundation on which to build a serious study of this fascinating and elusive mind.
Date published: 2009-02-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Least Interesting of the Courses I've Listened To This is the least interesting and informative of the fourteen Teaching Company courses that I've heard. (The others range from quite good to superb in quality.) I thought that the content was short on facts. "There is no 'there' there," is a good way to put it. For example, I would have expected some narrative biographical background on Nietzsche. Maybe in the second lecture. What was his early life like? How did he make a living? Exactly how many books and articles did he write? In this regard, I learned more with 15 minutes spent reading Wikipedia than I did with this course. I knew next to nothing about Nietzsche before listening to this course. But I didn't get all that interested in the man's ideas after hearing the course. Maybe that isn't the fault of the course, though. Perhaps Nietzsche is just difficult to understand.
Date published: 2009-02-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Haphazard and Disappointing Part biography, part personal confession (of the professors), part philosophical overview of Nietzsche's writings. I found the course presentations ill-structured and confused. The "Top Ten" lists were bordering on condescending: does Professor Solomon assume that this course is being purchased primarily by teenagers? I do not care for Professor Solomon's highly informal teaching approach. Intellectual content is relatively weak. Many times we are given a theory espoused by, for example, Aristotle, and the professors simply say, "Niietszche did not agree with this," and then move on without any sort of explanation. I did not learn a great deal from this course.
Date published: 2009-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Who can really understand Nietzsche? Tough subject! Nietzsche's contribution to philosophy is renowned, but understanding his beliefs is still a challenge. This course gives a grounding in the man, but Nietzsche requires more study. A good starting point...
Date published: 2009-01-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Average The heart and theme of Nietzsche's philosophy is presented -for the most part - in a manner that invites further investigation into the writings of the subject philosopher. However, the tag-team approach doesn't work in the audio format: one professor presents in a short, terse style while the other speaks in an academic tone and vernacular that makes it easy to "tune-out", especially during a commute. Also, as noted above, too much attention is given to those historical individuals with whom Nietzsche agrees or disagrees, but not enough attention is given to the actual writings of Nietzsche.
Date published: 2009-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everything a video course could be. I knew very little about Nietzsche and was always curious to learn more. This course caught my eye. I have to say it was probably better than going directly to Nietzsche's books. Solomon and Higgs distill the essence in a fascinating presentation that acquainted me with the man, his ideas, and the historical context, and left me with a desire to learn more about him and the other proponents of Existentialism. What more could we ask from any course? I also enjoyed Bob Solomon enough in this course to purchase the other two Teaching Company courses that feature him.
Date published: 2009-01-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A course about Nietzsche's reputation - not his ideas. The husband and wife tag team seem to spend more time debunking myths about Nietzsche than actually talking about his ideas. They also spend what seems an inordinate amount of time talking about Nietzsche's intellectual predecessors. In the end, there seemed to be very little about Nietzsche's actual philosophy - and hardly any of his actual words.
Date published: 2009-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Passionate and Quirky This is a wonderfully passionate and somewhat quirky introduction that takes a highly stimulating thematic approach to Nietzsche. Solomon and Higgins - particulary Solomon it seems - have been deeply affected personally by Nietzsche and bare part of their souls to bring out his deeper meanings and significance. My only concern is that the extent of the passion prevents Solomon (and Higgins) from asking the obvious question about whether Nietzsche was right about how to find meaning in life or whether he was just a valuable iconoclast whose formulations for living are bound to end in tears and calamity. 4.5 stars
Date published: 2008-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unravelling Nietzsche Kudos to you on the wonderful course on Nietzsche! He can be a difficult philosopher and is broadly misunderstood; Professor Solomon & his learned wife do a good job of demystifying those poetic and challenging works. Five stars, among my favorite Teaching Company products (and I have about three dozen).
Date published: 2008-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Profs. Higgins and Solomon present a finely polished overview of Nietzsche's work, accessible to all interested.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from By repeating the tapes i have got more used to their accents, but Professor Solomon is still difficult to catch.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I had read a lot of Nietzsche's works years ago, but this course brought a much fuller understanding to me.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It always was my ambition to become an "outstanding generalist!" your courses are making a very substantial contribution towars that goal.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The team of Drs Solomon and Higgins was excellent! A small team I find more riveting than only one or too many.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Your DVD course on nietzshe brings excellence, zest, and adds a "considerable enlargment of light" to my life. thank you!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Educated as an engineer with limited exposure to liberal arts, your excellent courses have opened a new world of ideas, concepts, and learning to me. Keep up the good work!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than classroom lectures. If something is missed or not clearly understood you can rewind & listen again
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I could not be happier having found an instructor presentation that cause me to actually think. Even a post graduate degree doesn't end the search for truth.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Your course is well worth the money. I have listened to it while I drive 2 hours/day and it has made the drive interesting and pleasureable.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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