Past Meetup

Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil reading and discussion

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Wow, what's not to say about Nietzsche? Perhaps for some of us, Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra or Antichrist were among the first philosophy books we (attempted to) read in our restless youths. Certainly Nietzsche's belligerant wit and bold rejection of Christian morality's predominance in modern-era Western ethics draw many aspiring philosophers and independent thinkers to his Beyond Good and Evil. Others read Neitzsche for his more outlandish ideas in his later period thinking (as he was going insane) such as the concept of the "ubermensch" (over-man), which continues to influence contemporary belief systems like Objectivism. But Nietzsche is not simply a radical who sets out to aggrandize atheism; Nietzsche is a revolutionary thinker whose rejection of Christian morality is really a critique of moral universals and the limitations a Christian framework of thinking imposes upon the individual's autonomy and power.

Anyone who reads modern European ethics - like Kant's Critique of Practical Reason or Rene Descartes' meditations - can note the deep and pervading influence Christainity has on European thought from the Dark Ages to the late 1800s. Rene Descartes goes to great abuses of logic to prove the existence of God, and Kant's categorical imperatives rest on the assumption that the goal of ethics is not to produce favorable results for the wellbeing of all but to fulfill an obligation to what?: God. In the case of Kierkegaard, we saw anti-climus' attempt to reconcile the problem of individuality/selfhood with the uniformity implicit in Christian faith. The narrative of modern Western philosophy is laden with attempts to justify Christian moral duality and "free will" with philosophy or vice versa.

Through a series of succinct aphorisms, Nietzsche systematically undermines the "self-evident" foundations of one school of modern philosophy after another and questions the very aim of modern philosophy: the unquestioned quest for objectivity, truth, and certainty. Sometimes funny and always cutting, Nietsche's Beyond Good and Evil will have most "free thinking" students of early modern and Enlightenment era philosophy jumping out of their seats and shouting, "yeah!"