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(In-Person and On Zoom) Camden Philosophical Society Meeting: Friedrich Nietzsche and Nihilism

Tuesday, May 17 @ 4:00 pm 6:00 pm

The Camden Philosophical Society’s next regularly scheduled reading and discussion group, at 4 pm on Tuesday, May 17, will resume our exploration of the meaning and implications of Nihilism with a dive into the work of Friedrich Nietzsche – the Western philosopher perhaps most closely associated with the concept. The discussion will be led and moderated by Chuck Marecic, and the readings will be from Nietzsche’s The Will to Power.   

The meeting will be fully hybrid – a combination of in-person at the Picker Room of the Camden Public Library or Zoom. All are welcome to attend by either mode. If you wish to participate via Zoom, please let us know by emailing sarahmiller@usa.net and cmarecic@gmail.com. You will then receive a Zoom invitation on the morning of the meeting. Click on the “Join Zoom Meeting” link in that invitation at the time of the event. We will again be using the library’s OWL system to facilitate hybrid attendance.

Chuck provides the following introduction to the discussion:

For the May session, we will examine Friedrich Nietzsche’s final unfinished work, The Will to Power. We will focus primarily on “Book One” (Notes 1-134), which includes “Part I: Nihilism” and “Part II: The History of European Nihilism.” I have also included the final two Notes of Will to Power, Notes 1066 and 1067, in which Nietzsche helpfully describes what he means by Will to Power (Thanks to Chris Augusta for this suggestion!). The entire book is a collection of notes made by Nietzsche during the 1880s in preparation for writing the Will to Power, which unfortunately, he never completed.

Others (notably his sister) took on the project after Nietzsche’s nervous collapse and eventually presented it as his final work. The organization of the book is not Nietzsche’s, although he did provide some conceptual guidance in his “Preface” and “Toward an Outline” at the beginning of “Book One.” In the late 1960s, Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale updated the translation, edited, organized the sections, and provided some additional commentary about the context of this enigmatic work. As a result, what we now have as the Will to Power is a “best guess” as to Nietzsche’s intentions for the project. Nevertheless, it does provide many thought-provoking insights into Nietzsche’s view on Nihilism.

Nietzsche, never one to miss an opportunity to make a bold statement, took a very interesting approach to Nihilism, its causes and effects, and his proposed solution to its impacts. For him, Nihilism was not merely a possibility, it was (and is) the reality of modern society (late 19th century through our present), and was (is) the unavoidable culmination of Western civilization. In short, it has arisen because Western civilization had neglected, forgotten, ignored the two fundamental principles: The Will to Power and The Eternal Return.

For purposes of our discussion, I would suggest reading over “Book One” (as well as his “Preface,” “Toward an Outline,” and the final two Notes) and choosing one or two of the Notes that you find exemplary, incendiary, confusing or even prescient. These can be the starting point for our exploration.

Reading: 

Friedrich Nietzsche, Will to Power; “Book One: Nihilism”

https://ia803205.us.archive.org/27/items/FriedrichNietzscheTheWillToPower/Friedrich%20Nietzsche%20-%20The%20Will%20to%20Power.pdf

Preface (page 3)

Towards an Outline (p. 7)

Book One: Notes 1-134 (pp. 9-82)

Notes 1066-1067 (pp. 548-550)

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