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Nietzsche and Politics


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Modern European Philosophy

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Humanities


Friedrich Nietzsche is well known as a fierce critic of democracy and was pleased with the title ‘aristocratic radicalism’ coined for him by Georg Brandes. Yet over the last 20 years or so, democratic political theorists have shown an increasing interest in Nietzsche, especially in his concept of limited ‘agonistic’ conflict as a means to revitalise our tired, late modern democracies. Many of these appropriations are, however, based on false or tenuous readings, and hardly any of them confront his critique of democracy. The purpose of this course is to reassess the critical and constructive potential of Nietzsche’s thought for contemporary democracy and democratic ideals. Do Nietzsche’s criticisms of democracy allow for a politics that is compatible with our democratic commitments? A central place will be given to the concept of the agon and its potential for rethinking egalitarian values and concepts in a way that addresses the problems Nietzsche locates in democracy. This will include confronting Nietzsche with Rawls and Arendt in the context of contemporary debates around justice, personhood and the public sphere.

Course objectives

To be announced.


The timetables are avalable through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Seminars

The meetings will take the form of lectures and a seminar discussion OR seminar discussions of key texts, introduced by the instructor, and presentations by students.
Class attendance is mandatory.

Assessment method


  • Presentations and reading preparations (50%)

  • Final exam (5,000-6,000 word paper and text commentaries) (50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of the subtests (presentation and paper/commentaries). See above.


The resit consists of a revised or new final paper (50% of the overall grade). The grade for other comonments (presentations and reading preparations) remains in place. Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examinations cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Required literature

Various texts from the ‘Kritische Studienausgabe’ (DTV/de Gruyter, 1980ff.) of Nietzsche’s writings, available online (Nietzsche Online) via the library or via Nietzsche Source (open access: Nietzsche’s writings are all translated into Dutch. The published texts and most of the Nachlass are translated into English. Students will have to read the German together with their chosen translation.Various articles / chapters from the secondary literature, to be assigned on a weekly basis.

Secondary literature

Useful introductions to the course topics include:

  • Daniel Conway, Nietzsche & the Political (Routledge, 1997);

  • Keith Ansell-Pearson, An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker (CUP, 1994);

  • David Owen, Nietzsche, Politics & Modernity (Sage, 1995);

  • Tracy Strong, Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of Transfiguration (Univ. California Press, 1975, 1988)

  • Various essays in the volume Nietzsche, Power & Politics. Rethinking Nietzsche’s Legacy for Political Thought (H.W. Siemens. & V. Roodt eds., 2008: de Gruyter).

A good comprehension of German is a great advantage.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.