Reading & Composition
Beyond Good and Evil
Friedrich Nietzsche, from whom we borrow our course title, is one of the most famous critics of morality. But he’s by no means the only one, the critique of morality having been the focus of intense literary and philosophical attention for some time before and after Nietzsche. We will study literary, philosophical, and critical texts that take up this critique, as well as related issues: the difference between ethics and morality; the relation between morality and happiness; the possibility of morality without God; the meaning of the good life; and so on. Our assumption will be that these philosophical issues, though they seem timeless, are historical through and through, and so we will also spend some time considering the social arrangements or situations that produce these reflections and make them necessary in the first place.
Since this is an R&C course, its major goals are to improve students’ skills in close reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing, and to explore the relationships between the three skills. In addition to discussing the texts in class, students will write responses to them in a variety of forms, from literary analysis essays to creative projects. Readings include Sophocles, Cervantes, Las Casas, Diderot, Poe, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Wells, Stevens, Conrad, Borges, Morrison, Korsgaard, Matar. Films by Pontecorvo and Riley.