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Nietzsche and Freud: Modernity and the Philosophical Subject


Admission requirements

BA degree in Philosophy.


Both Nietzsche and Freud radically departed from standard models of the self that had prevailed throughout the history of western thought – for example, both thinkers illuminated the primacy of the unconscious over and against conscious, rational thought, and, in his drive psychology, Nietzsche even contested the very existence of a unified, substantial ego. This course will be critically comparing the two thinkers’ respective theories of subjectivity and examining the philosophical implications of these theories for the standard Platonic, Cartesian, empiricist and Kantian models of selfhood. Alongside this study of the descriptive aspects of Freud and Nietzsche, the course will also be making a close examination of the therapeutic bent of their works in order to forge an answer to the following questions: what is psychic health? And how can such health be achieved? This will lead to the final objective of the course – namely, surveying the role played by memory and repression in the philosophy of Nietzsche and the psychoanalytic theory of Freud.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2013-2014 , MA Philosophy 60 EC en 120 EC.
See Timetables Philosophy 2013-2014 , Timetables MA Philosophy 60 EC/120 EC

Mode of instruction

Lectures (2 hours) and seminars (1 hour).

Course load

Attending classes (14 × 3 hrs) = 42 hrs
Preparatory reading (14 × 5 hrs) = 70 hrs
Presentation preparation = 7 hrs
Assignments (5 × 2 hrs) = 10 hrs
Research essay (including literature study) = 151 hrs
Total course load = 280 hrs

Assessment method

  • Weekly assignments (10%)

  • Class presentation of 20 minutes (20%)

  • Research paper of 4.500 words (70%).


Blackboard will be used for posting of messages and information regarding readings and presentations.

Reading list

Primary Reading:
All of the following texts will be available from the library.

  • Freud, Sigmund, Beyond the Pleasure Principle in The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud [1920], Trans. and ed. James Strachey, Vols. 1-24, (London: Hogarth, 1955) (henceforth abbreviated to SE), Vol. 18.

  • Freud, Sigmund, Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis [1916–17], SE 15 and 16.

  • Freud, Sigmund, The Ego and the Id [1923], SE 19, pp.1–66.

  • Freud, Sigmund, Three Essays on Sexuality [1905], SE 7, pp.123–246.

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich, Beyond Good and Evil, ed. by Rolf-Peter Horstmann and J. Norman, trans. by Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich, Daybreak, ed. by Maudemarie Clark and Brian Leiter, trans. by R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Gay Science, ed. by Bernard Williams, trans. by Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

  • Nietzsche, Friedrich, On the Genalogy of Morality, ed. by K. A. Pearson, trans. by C. Diethe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens
See Registration for courses and examinations

Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply. See also Registration for courses and examinations

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact information

J.S. Pearson, MA