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Nietzsche: Divine Madness

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Miss Clare Buckley.

“Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: ‘I seek God! I seek God!’”

There can be few who have not heard these, the opening remarks of a passage in The Gay Science (1882), much less of their author, German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, a figure who has exerted an influence on the modern mind as tangible and significant as Darwin, Marx or Freud.

The purpose of this seminar is two-fold – to explore Nietzsche’s unique and incomparable impact, not only on contemporary philosophy but on mainstream popular culture, in particular on music, cinema and fiction; and to consider whether his notorious proclamation of divine murder is really the radical scepticism for which it has so often been taken. In reflecting on these themes, we will encounter a thinker who, in transcending purely philosophical boundaries, emerges as the quintessential polymath who rendered nihilism not a destructive force but an uncompromising and fiercely original vehicle for social and intellectual change.

For a translation of the ‘Madman’ passage, as reproduced by one of Nietzsche’s foremost translators, Walter Kaufmann, see:

This talk is part of the Ivory Tower Society, Pembroke College series.

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