Today we take a bridge into the twentieth century, constructed by Nietzsche, Freud, and Weber's critical theory. Each author is different in important ways, but they also agree on two crucial points: we must subject our consciousness and assumptions to critical scrutiny and, along with increasing liberation and rationalization in some ways, modern society also has repressive elements. Nietzsche is the oldest of these thinkers; he dies in 1900 and stops working a decade before due to mental illness. While he was ill, his sister, a proto-Nazi and associate of Hitler, cared for him. Her control of his papers and how they were released to the public painted him as a proto-Nazi himself, but reading his whole oeuvre illuminates that Nietzsche subjected Judaism and Christianity to the same scrutiny. In The Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche attempts to use the genealogy method to be critical of modern morality without taking a certain vantage point. We discuss most specifically his genealogy of the ideas of good and bad and of good and evil.
Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, pp. 1-67
This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.