Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lucky Find (& Bleg)

I'm working to put together a packet of readings from Nietzsche's The Gay Science for my Honors Humanities classes (as a preface to Sartre), and came across this. I doubt Cambridge University Press would be happy about it. But get it while it's hot (in more ways than one, I guess).

If anyone has any particular suggestions about what I *must* include in my packet, shoot. (Certainly, I'm including the death of God stuff, and some bits that capture his, as the 'all things shining' folks might put it, "polytheism"... I'm also skimming back over for swipes at utilitarian ethics, since I just finished teaching Bentham...)


  1. ha, those are all OVER the place. i just wish someone would steal a newer version that had actual text in it. :)

    when making selections in the past, teaching GS for a few weeks, i've found it very hard either to get a representative section or a representative group of them. this semester i'm basically assigning all of the first four books (tougher read, but it seems a sense of the whole is almost essential), but highlighting a substantial selection of sections from each one that i determined, vaguely, on my last reading to possibly delineate a coherent path through the book.

    it's surely too much for your purposes if you're making a packet, but my entire selection is currently

    Book I 1–5, 8, 12–19, 21–28, 37, 39, 41–42, 44, 46–56

    Book II 57–60, 72, 76–78, 85–86, 100, 107

    Book III 108–125, 135–143, 152–153, 154–275

    Book IV 276–279, 283–290, 293–294, 296–297, 299, 301, 307, 324, 333–335, 338–339

    the selections are somewhat obscured by being listed together like that, but basically it's an attempt to separate out significant blocks of sections that tend to elaborate on some point in sequence, while skipping some distractions.

    (i leave out book V because of length and because then i don't have to think about it having been added later than the other books, but it does have some much more graspable material in it since nietzsche is more mindful of how the preceding books may have been taken by a broader audience, like in the places where he takes care to distinguish himself from romantics, epicureans, certain kinds of pessimists, etc.)

    i'm planning on exploiting section 115 (the 'four errors') a lot this semester. in particular, the error about mis-estimating man's status (relative to animals and to gods). i think it will probably work well as a formula for bringing together the focus on drives and passions in conduct, the 'actor' metaphor for understanding individuality and social relations, and the material about self-deception (a la sec. 8's 'hide behind nothing at all'), the last especially where criticism of metaphysics or religion is concerned. i've found anything involving self-deception stuff to be hard to teach - it's too easy to misleadingly make it out to be, 'those fools are fooling themselves!'.

    early on, i focus on the benevolence and love sections (13-14?) to try to establish N's manner of thinking about behavior / psychology, since it seems to lie behind the more theoretically-inviting sections about conscience or egoism or selflessness. (speaking of which, i didn't used to appreciate how important conscience is for nietzsche. he seems to basically take it as a target because it conveniently has a prominent role in several philosophers' views, in christianity and common morality, and also happens to be intimately connected to various drives, passions, and moods. but most importantly, the parity between it and the 'intellectual conscience' is important in his attempt to schematize what he's doing as something that may, potentially, serve life in the way that he concedes common ways of life to have done. i don't think he's as explicit about 'intellectual conscience' anywhere in GS as he is in 'human, all too human', though, to the point that that book is worth plundering if you see fit to say much about 'intellectual conscience' in GS.)

    that said, i totally focus on the 'death of god' section, not necessarily because i'm convinced it's the key to everything, but because it seems like one of the richest points of contact for students (and thus me).

  2. It's been years since I taught this, but just in case the following helps confirm anything, these are the sections I focused on:

    Prelude: 1-6, 8, 10-16, 19-21, 23-24, 26, 29, 32, 35, 37, 41-43, 45-46, 48

    Book I: 1-6, 8, 10-16, 19-21, 23-24, 26, 29, 32, 35, 37, 41-43, 45-46, 48-52, 54-56

    Book II: 57-59, 76-80, 84, 86, 88, 98-99, 105-107

    Book III: 108-112, 116-117, 120-122, 124-128, 132-133, 135-136, 138, 141-144, 150, 152-153, 173, 184, 189, 191, 195, 213-215, 228, 232, 234, 236, 250, 255, 269-270, 273-275

    Book IV: 276, 278, 280, 283, 285-286, 289-290, 292, 295-296, 299, 301, 304, 308, 310, 319, 321, 324-329, 335, 338, 340-341

    Book V: 343-345, 347, 349-350, 352, 354-359, 366, 370, 373-374, 377, 381-382

  3. Thanks. (I'm only doing one day, so, in effect, my task is to figure out what I should include to best set up and then expand upon the "death of God" sections. But all this is helpful.)

  4. Maybe not all of that, then, if you're only spending one day on it. Sorry for the overkill!

  5. well, it's gratifying to see someone else came up with a solution like mine, at least.

    i feel bad about it but i don't even say a word about the songs in the prelude. i pay an awful lot of attention to 'literary' stuff in my intro course overall, though, so i don't want to overdo it. plus, when i do the 'death of god' section, i assign a story of kafka's alongside it - 'the imperial message' - so there's plenty of literature to think about anyway.

    i think the most essential sections to accompany the god section come before it in book III. so it seems it's really a question of choosing a very few sections from elsewhere to go with those.