Assuming that truth is a woman – what then?

For those of you who will be taking the module RPE307 Close Philosophical Reading, we will be looking at Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. The plan is to have a close reading of one section each week for discussion, but I also intend to have an online reading group on this blog that is open to all. The module will not start until January 2014, but it will certainly do you no harm to start some background reading before then. Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil covers most of his philosophical ideas, and so you should familiarise yourself with a good, basic introduction. If I may ‘be so bold’ to recommend my Nietzsche: The Key Ideas. A revised, extended edition called A Complete Introduction to Nietzsche should be coming later this year. In addition, I recommend students acquire at least one of the following section-by-section commentaries on the text:

Burnham, DouglasReading Nietzsche: An Analysis of Beyond Good and Evil, Acumen Publishing, 2006

Lampert, LaurenceNietzsche’s Task: An Interpretation of Beyond Good and Evil, Yale University Press, 2004

Southwell, Gareth, A Beginner’s Guide to Beyond Good and Evil, Blackwell, 2008

As Nietzsche himself says, ‘the hardest thing to translate from one language to another is the tempo of its style.’ There are many translations of Beyond Good and Evil, and they vary greatly.  In my opinion, the Marion Faber translation is still the best in capturing Nietzsche’s ‘style’.

Nietzsche, Friedrich, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. by Marion Faber, OUP, 1998 (Reissued 2008)

As a starting point, you should read the Preface (a couple of pages) which contains certain major themes as well as introducing Nietzsche’s way of working. As you are reading it (and you should read it at least two or three times to get used to his style and way of thinking), try to be aware of these. In particular:

·       Assuming that truth is a woman – what then?’ What do you think Nietzsche means by this when you read what he says after?
·       What does Nietzsche mean by dogmatism? Who are the dogmatists?
·       What is Nietzsche’s view of much of philosophy so far?
·       Why does Nietzsche refer to Jesuitism and the democratic Enlightenment?
·       What do you think Nietzsche is setting out to do?
It will also help you to ‘get to know’ Nietzsche, and I highly recommend Julian Young’s book here. It’s long, but detailed and up-to-date, and it is also a philosophical biography, so you will get a very good idea of his views. You should also watch the excellent film on Nietzsche from the Human All-Too-Human series. 

Have fun and keep posted as I will be adding more on Nietzsche from time to time…and let me know what you think of the Preface! 

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