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Studying the purposes of history with Professor Nietzsche

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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Alex Tarbet is putting together a group to read Nietzsche’s early essay, “On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life.” This is a tremendous essay: brilliant, sweeping, passionate, perceptive, and possibly life-changing. As Tarbet writes:

Why study history? Can humanistic education actually be a bad thing? This short, explosive critique of academic culture is among Nietzsche’s early writings as a professor. Whether it is still relevant to today’s students – or ought to become history itself – is one of the questions we will ask in several discussions and a panel at the end of the semester. Everybody is welcome, not just philosophers! (You don’t have to participate in the panel if you don’t want to.) Send an email to al.tarb [at] and we will work around everyone’s schedules from there.


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