Friday, September 28, 2007

"Nietzsche, Naturalism, and Moral Psychology"

A description of my Spring 2008 graduate seminar follows:

The course has two interlocking aims: (1) to introduce students to Nietzsche’s philosophical naturalism and its role in his moral philosophy; and (2) to critically evaluate some of the philosophical issues about moral psychology that Nietzsche raises—about moral motivation, the will, the nature of conscious and unconscious experience, the role of consciousness in agency, the nature and causal import of “character”—in light of recent work in both philosophy and empirical psychology. We shall spend the first few weeks on a careful study of On the Genealogy of Morality (read in conjunction with my Nietzsche on Morality), before turning, first, to critiques of my naturalist reading of Nietzsche (e.g., many of the essays in the recent Blackwell Companion to Nietzsche), and then, second, to a topical study of the issues in moral psychology just noted. Each session will be based on readings from elsewhere in Nietzsche’s corpus, together with work by contemporary philosophers (e.g., Doris, Pereboom, G. Strawson, P. Strawson, Velleman) and empirical psychologists (e.g., Haggard, Haidt, Libet, Nisbett, Wegner, Wilson).

I'd especially welcome advice about the literature in empirical psychology.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Nietzsche's Theory of the Will"

This article of mine has now been published by The Philosophers' Imprint and is available for download here. I would welcome discussion in the comments here.

Here is the abstract:

The essay offers a philosophical reconstruction of Nietzsche’s theory of the will, focusing on (1) Nietzsche’s account of the phenomenology of “willing” an action, the experience we have which leads us (causally) to conceive of ourselves as exercising our will; (2) Nietzsche’s arguments that the experiences picked out by the phenomenology are not causally connected to the resulting action (at least not in a way sufficient to underwrite ascriptions of moral responsibility); and (3) Nietzsche’s account of the actual causal genesis of action. Particular attention is given to passages from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil and Twilight of the Idols and a revised version of my earlier account of Nietzsche’s epiphenomenalism is defended. Finally, recent work in empirical psychology (Libet, Wegner) is shown to support Nietzsche’s skepticism that our “feeling” of will is a reliable guide to the causation of action.

In addition to Nietzsche scholars (who have been discussing these issues quite a bit lately), I hope the essay will be of interest to philosophers interested in action theory who might not otherwise be interested in Nietzsche.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nietzsche's Songs in New York

My friend, the philosopher Manyul Im, alerts me to the fact that his sister, the opera singer Jeannie Im, will be performing songs written by Nietzsche in New York in October (there will also be readings from some of Nietzsche's work). Information about the event is as follows:

Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 pm
Leo Baeck Institute / Center for Jewish History
Forchheimer Auditorium
15 West 16th Street
New York City
Admission: $ 15 - $ 10
Tickets can be bought at the box office of the Center for Jewish
History or by calling (917) 606 8200

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Who else employed the idea of the "Superman"?

A friend is looking for information on authors before or contemporaneous with Nietzsche who employed the notion of (and the word) "Superman" (Uebermensch). I came across this article:

Nietzsche's Superman
William M. Salter
The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, Vol. 12, No. 16 (Aug. 5, 1915), pp. 421-438

Do any readers have other information/references?