Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Prof: Okay, now today we move--basically we

  • move into the twentieth century.

  • And there is a lot of similarity between the three

  • authors we will be discussing: Nietzsche, Freud and Max Weber.

  • You know, Durkheim will be a somewhat different kind of

  • story.

  • But all--I mean, Nietzsche, of course,

  • died in 1900, but he was out of action for

  • ten years because of mental illness, rather severe mental

  • illness.

  • He published all of his work in the nineteenth century.

  • Freud and Weber started to publish in the nineteenth

  • century.

  • But these three characters, in many ways,

  • are very important bridges towards twentieth century social

  • theory.

  • In a way they did foreshadow a great deal of theorizing,

  • particularly during the second half of the twentieth century,

  • especially in the last thirty or forty years.

  • I think it's also very easy to see the point of departure from

  • Marx-- some continuity,

  • but the basic point of department from Marx in the work

  • of Nietzsche, Freud, and Weber.

  • If I can put it very simply, the major departure is that

  • they all depart from Marx's economic reductionism--

  • right?--the emphasis on economic interest,

  • which is actually not only Marx.

  • Right?

  • It was common in Adam Smith, and Marx as well.

  • They depart from this and they emphasize that the problem in

  • modernity is not so much in the economic system;

  • it is much more in terms of power and consciousness.

  • The problem of modernity is repression, in one way or

  • another.

  • The problem of modern life is that we internalize the reasons

  • for our own subjugation, as such, and somehow we have to

  • figure out how to liberate ourselves from this internalized

  • subjugation.

  • Why do we obey orders?

  • Why do we actually accept that we are subjugated?

  • This is the central question, I think, Nietzsche,

  • Freud, and Weber are posing.

  • It's again a question which has not been really asked by the

  • other theorists we discussed so far.

  • They just had civil society as a point of reference for the

  • good society.

  • Now the problem for Nietzsche, Freud, and Weber is in us,

  • internally--in us, how we solve the problem within

  • ourselves.

  • So this is a kind of introducing the three authors.

  • In some ways one can say Nietzsche,

  • Freud, and Weber not only foreshadows twentieth century

  • social theory, but in some ways they are the

  • first of post-modern theorists-- right?--the theorists which are

  • beginning to come to terms with the oppressive nature of

  • modernity, and try to figure out how to

  • transcend that.

  • Now I think what I asked you to read for today is probably the

  • most difficult text for the semester,

  • The Genealogy of Morals, and you may have been greatly

  • frustrated by it, and probably also irritated by

  • it, because he's a very provocative mind.

  • I hope you did what I suggested; namely, you had a cursory

  • reading of the text before today,

  • and now you can go back to the text,

  • after my lecture notes, and I think that should help

  • you to find your way out and to see what he is really up to.

  • Now what is he up to?

  • Let me just foreshadow, before I get into his life and

  • work, and particularly in Genealogy of Morals.

  • There is another point in which Nietzsche, Freud,

  • and Weber can be understood in relationship to Marx.

  • In my very introductory comments, I emphasized the

  • difference--right?--the shift away from the economy to the

  • question of power and domination.

  • But there is a point at which there is a continuity between

  • them and Marx--Nietzsche, Freud and too mainly Weber;

  • I mean, Weber is a somewhat more complicated story.

  • But certainly Nietzsche and Freud are critical theorists;

  • critical theorists in the sense as we defined this earlier.

  • Right?

  • Critical theorists, that they are offering a

  • criticism of human consciousness.

  • What is in our mind and how did it get into our mind,

  • and how-- and the problem of our consciousness in

  • relationship to our existence.

  • And this is very much critical theory as it was defined by

  • Hegel and then the young Marx, the Hegelian Marx,

  • the Marx of Paris Manuscripts.

  • Right?

  • The Marx of alienation. Right?

  • This is very much coming from this tradition,

  • and the central issue is how can we subject this to critical

  • scrutiny?

  • And in Nietzsche's case, there is an incredible attempt

  • being made here to try to offer a critical theory which does not

  • really have a critical vantage point.

  • Right?

  • All critical theories of Hegel and Marx and twentieth century

  • critical theory do have an idea of a good society,

  • of an emancipated human existence, and they criticize

  • the reality, the society what they are

  • analyzing, from the point of view of this

  • critical vantage point.

  • Nietzsche is different.

  • He is really the most radical of critical theorists.

  • And in the twentieth century the theorist which builds the

  • most consistently on it is Michel Foucault--

  • right?--who tried to create a theory which is critical of

  • existence and our consciousness, but critical without telling

  • you what is good, what you should be aspiring for.

  • And that's exactly what Nietzsche is trying to do.

  • It is sort of the squaring of the circle.

  • Can you be critical of a situation if you cannot tell

  • what is the good outcome?

  • Right?

  • Can you actually subject the very notion of the good society,

  • the good, to critical scrutiny?

  • This is what he's trying to do.

  • Right?

  • To offer such a theory.

  • Well Freud is different. Right?

  • Freud is a critical theorist beyond Hegel and beyond Marx.

  • He does agree with Marx that we have to find some critical

  • analysis which is rooted in our sensuous experiences,

  • and somehow we have to relate the problems of our

  • consciousness to our sensuous experiences.

  • Right?

  • In this respect, Freud is very much in the line

  • of Marx's critique of Hegel.

  • This is not simply radicalizing your consciousness;

  • you have to confront your consciousness with your sensuous

  • experiences.

  • But he is different from Marx because--

  • I pointed this out earlier very briefly--

  • because in Marx, this sensuous activity is

  • production, it is economic activity.

  • For Freud it is our sexual experiences--

  • right?-and he offers a criticism of our consciousness

  • by confronting us with our repressed sexual experiences in

  • our earlier life.

  • Right?

  • So this is a critical theory.

  • Right?

  • He said, "What you think is in your mind is right.

  • No, no, no, it isn't."

  • Right?

  • You have to think about all of your experiences of your earlier

  • sexual life, and then when you figure out

  • what you repressed as bad memories,

  • that's when you will actually will be able to have a healthier

  • psychic life.

  • Right?

  • Well Weber is more complicated, and we will come back to this,

  • Weber's critical theory, when we get to Weber,

  • and to the question whether he's a critical theorist at all,

  • that has been highly debated.

  • Okay, I think now we are ready for Friedrich Nietzsche.

  • And I hope this makes more sense now for you--right?--what

  • you were reading.

  • Right?

  • And let me just emphasize one more time--

  • right?--the big project in Nietzsche is to offer a critical

  • scrutiny of human mind, but not to have any critical

  • vantage point.

  • Right?

  • To criticize the very principles of good society and

  • good, to critical scrutiny.

  • Where does it come from when we have the conception of good and

  • good society?

  • That is his project.

  • It's an incredible intellectual venture.

  • Right?

  • As I said, it is this kind of squaring of the circle,

  • what he does; what he does with a great deal

  • of power.

  • And he does it extremely provocatively.

  • I will put up a couple of quotations for it,

  • which are outrageous.

  • Don't walk out on it. Right?

  • Wait a little.

  • Hold your breath, listen.

  • This is outrageous what he's saying.

  • He's a provocateur.

  • He is like Rousseau; he is only worse than Rousseau.

  • Right?

  • He provokes us even more than Rousseau.

  • But, you know, deep down he's a very

  • sensitive--you know?--very humanistic human being.

  • Right?

  • He provokes you.

  • But if you listen carefully, you figure out there is

  • something what you actually can relate to it,

  • when you think what he's actually trying to get at.

  • All right, here is Nietzsche.

  • And let me just very briefly rush through his life.

  • He was born in 1844, in the small city of

  • cken in Germany, near Leipzig.

  • And this is very important: his father was a Lutheran

  • minister, and the family was all clergy, Lutheran clergy.

  • And he's bringing up, in a very religious sentiments,

  • very religious family.

  • And in many ways his work is a reaction against the father,

  • and it is a reaction against the kind of Lutheran

  • Christianity he was deeply internalized into.

  • I think this is very important to understand.

  • I mean, I know that most of the people in this room have strong

  • feelings in Judeo-Christian tradition, and he attacks also

  • Judeo-Christian tradition.

  • This is a revolt against the father.

  • This is a revolt against what he was brought up to.

  • It is an attempt to find himself.

  • Right?

  • That's what he's trying to get at.

  • And you have to be a little tolerant about him,

  • you know, and his attempt.

  • You did that as well.

  • You were revolting against your parents, and you were revolting

  • against some of the fundamental principles you were born into.

  • He actually enrolls to the University of Bonn to become a

  • Lutheran minister himself.

  • He studied theology.

  • As it happens to many people actually who enroll into a

  • seminary, doesn't take him too long to become an atheist.

  • Very often the seminaries are the best training grounds for

  • atheists.

  • Right?

  • You're beginning to see somehow the complexity of theological

  • thought.

  • This is what he experienced.

  • So he quits after a year.

  • He realizes he is on his way to become an atheist--right?--and

  • he will not become a minister.

  • Actually this happened to my brother as well.

  • He actually did not quit, he did finish;

  • he was also trained as a Lutheran minister.

  • But by the end of his theological training he was--I

  • don't think he ever confessed--but he was actually

  • an atheist.

  • So I have personal experiences--right?--what

  • theology can do to you.

  • Right?

  • Okay, then '68, there is a very important event

  • in his life.

  • He meets the greatest composer of his time, Richard Wagner,

  • and they become great friends for a time, and they become

  • bitter enemies later on; and it is very important why

  • this happened.

  • He is appointed as Professor of Classical Philosophy at the

  • University of Basel, before he got actually his

  • degree.

  • But he doesn't do it for too long.

  • Right?

  • He's only teaching for eight years in his life,

  • and then he retreats and he sacrifices his life to scholarly

  • activity-- spends a lot of time in Italy

  • and, if he's in Switzerland, in a small, beautiful spot,

  • Sils Maria.

  • He also meets in '7