Course Description

This course focuses on foundational ethics and the task of moral thinking by considering two philosophers dynamically opposed in the history of Western moral discourse: Friedrich Nietzsche and Emmanuel Levinas. We will examine their methodological approaches through short, close text readings, lectures, and active class discussions. We will start by reading selections from Nietzsche’s “On the Genealogy of Morals.” We will assess Nietzsche’s conception of the historical development of morality, its origins and causes, and his desire to move beyond the destructive impact of our moral tradition. We will then read excerpts from Levinas’s “Difficult Freedom” and “Totality and Infinity.” This will offer us a glimpse into an opposing model of ethics, where the concept grounding the human condition is “obligation to the human other.” Our goal will be to come to a better comprehension of each ethical model and its implications for our understanding of the human person and society. | Lecture + Q&A; Facilitated discussion.

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Section Title
Ethics & the Human Condition: Nietzsche & Levinas
Online - Zoom
3:30PM to 4:45PM
Sep 17, 2020 to Nov 19, 2020
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Virtual Classroom  
Course Fees
Section Notes

Please note: Students of all levels are welcome—from the novice to those with training in the area. All are expected to schedule sufficient time for readings between class sessions, as we will often refer directly to them during lectures and discussions. Only the Nietzsche book needs to be purchased prior to class. Excerpts from the Levinas texts will be sent to you via e-mail.

Recommended text:
Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism (9780801857836)
Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority (9780820702452)

Required text:
Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morals (9780679724629)