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Nietzsche´s Politics


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to BA students in Philosophy, who have successfully completed their first year, and who have also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including:

  • Political Philosophy


Nietzsche’s political thought has been invoked as intellectual support by Fascists and radical leftists alike. Moreover, his political writings, far from being deemed inconsequential, have been vilified by many as a key cause of both world wars. Throughout the history of his reception, Nietzsche has been labelled everything from a communitarian, aristocrat, militarist, democrat, agonist, egalitarian, pluralist, cosmopolitan, and perfectionist. To further complicate matters, numerous commentators have contended that he is best read as a distinctly apolitical, or even anti-political, thinker.

This course aims to clarify Nietzsche’s political worldview by surveying his philosophical development in tandem with the history of his reception. We will study the proto-Fascistic elements of his thought, his attitude towards militarism, his ambiguous appraisal of democratic and egalitarian political theories, and his so-called agonism. We will finish by examining the extent to which he can defensibly be categorized an apolitical thinker. In order to fully comprehend his mature political thought, we will also be analyzing the way in which he was influenced by biological theories of healthy organization, particularly with reference to his complex conception of the world as will to power.

Course objectives

This course aims to:

  • survey Nietzsche’s arguments for and against a range of forms of political organisation;

  • analyse Nietzsche’s early, middle and later political thought;

  • survey the various ways in which he has been interpreted, appropriated, and distorted within the critical literature.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the arguments Nietzsche’s invokes for and against multifarious theories of political organization;

  • the history of reception of Nietzsche’s thought.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • use relevant secondary literature in order to unpack Nietzsche’s thought;

  • critically engage with the relevant secondary literature;

  • construct cogent arguments concerning Nietzsche’s political thought and its interpreters;

  • write a cogent and well-constructed philosophical research paper.


See: BA Filosofie

  • Filosofie, BA3 – BA Plus-traject or Standaardtraject

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending lectures (13 x 3hrs): 39 hrs

  • Preparatory reading (13 x 10hrs): 130 hrs

  • Preparation of presentation: 31hrs

  • Final assessment (4000-word research paper): 80 hrs

Assessment method


  • Paper

  • Oral presentation

Attendance is required to pass the course (though two explained absences will be permitted).


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests:

  • One 4000-word research paper (70%).

  • One 20-30min oral presentation (30%)


The resit will consist of a 5000-word research paper, which will count for the entire assessment (i.e., it will count as the grade for both the oral presentation and the final research paper).

Attendance is required and a condition for admission to the resit (though two explained absences will be permitted).

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Distributing the reading and course materials

  • Making announcements

  • Giving feedback on assessments (via Turnitin)

Reading list

All the literature will be made available via Blackboard, so it is not necessary to purchase any texts. The key texts of Nietzsche’s that we will be using are as follows:

  • The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo and other Writings, edited by Aaron Ridley. Translated by Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

  • Beyond Good and Evil, edited by Rolf-Peter Horstmann and Judith Norman. Translated by Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

  • On the Genealogy of Morality, edited by Keith Ansell-Pearson. Translated by Carol Diethe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

  • The Gay Science, edited by Bernard Williams. Translated by Josefine Nauckhoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

  • "Homer’s Contest”, in The Nietzsche Reader, edited by Keith Ansell-Pearson and Duncan Large (Blackwell: Oxford, 2006), 95–100.

  • Human all too Human: A Book for free Spirits, translated by R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra, edited by Adrian Del Caro and Robert Pippin. Translated by Adrian Del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

  • Untimely Meditations, edited by Daniel Breazeale. Translated by R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.S. Pearson


Not applicable.