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PS385 – Rousseau Contra Nietzsche

The writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Friedrich Nietzsche - as penetrating as they are eloquent, as radical in their philosophical explorations as they are revolutionary in their moral and political implications – continue to have a profound influence on our age. Both Rousseau and Nietzsche leveled scathing critiques at emergent modernity and incisively detailed its powerful but corrupting effects on our lives, while painting competing visions of how to ennoble modern values, politics and culture. Yet they seem to do so as polar opposites; indeed, Nietzsche directs his immense rhetorical firepower at Rousseau as a thinker who fostered values - values central to us now - that would only serve to deepen the problems that concern him. Nietzsche’s condemnation of Rousseau, however, is the obverse of his high regard for the latter as the originator of one of the most profound alternatives to modernity. The course will seek to enter into this great contest through an attentive reading of a number of Rousseau’s and Nietzsche’s fundamental texts. (Not offered 2017-18).

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