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William James and Friedrich Nietzsche

Philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche & William James 4 page essay
Review a film that deals with three of the unit topics in part 2 of our course (Self, Freedom, Morality or Justice), first from the point of view of two contrasting philosophers and then from your point of view. In writing your review please observe the following expectations.

William James and Friedrich Nietzsche

A. In an introductory paragraph provide:

  1. a brief summary of the film
  2. the parts of the film that you will focus on in the review.

B. Write at least one paragraph for each of the two philosophers.

  1. Briefly characterize the main ideas of each of the philosophers on the topics chosen.
  2. Briefly describe how you imagine they would interpret and evaluate the film in the light of these ideas.

C. In the concluding paragraph:

  1. Summarize your ideas about these topics and how they influence your evaluation of the film.
  2. Briefly compare and contrast your judgement with those of the two philosophers you have given above.

Overview of Friedrich Nietzche :

There have been few recent philosophers that have been as influential yet as misunderstood as German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Today, he is widely regarded as a wild-eyed nihilist, his work dismissed by most in the general public as the ravings of an individual on the brink of insanity. To bolster this position, it is not difficult to quote one of Nietzsche’s more incendiary aphorisms, such as the ubiquitous “God is dead,” or the savagely misogynist “Thou goest to woman? Do not forget thy whip”. Even more convincing is the fact that his work played an important role in shaping Hitler’s beliefs, as the German leader utilized Nietzsche’s philosophy as part of the foundation for the racist ideology that ultimately fueled the Holocaust.

Although it is relatively easy to amass evidence to support the assertion that Nietzsche was a nihilistic lunatic whose work should be dismissed, this underestimation of his contribution to Western thought is reductive and overly simplistic. While some aspects of Nietzsche’s work are unsettling and inimical to the popularly held morality that is present today, both his theories and his methodological approach have exerted a profound influence over the development of philosophy in the twentieth century, particularly in the areas of existentialism and relativism.

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