"Democracy, Nobility, and Philosophy: Nietzsche and the 'Pathos of Distance'"
(Conferences / Seminars / Lectures)
Jack Paynter 2016 Lecture, James Madison College, featuring University Distinguished Professor Emeritus M. Richard Zinman. Presenting "Democracy, Nobility, and Philosophy: Nietzsche and the 'Pathos of Distance'" more information...
Free and open to the public.
Professor Zinman's lecture will take its bearings from the following observations: Our time is the age in which modern democracy has triumphed. In the contemporary West almost everyone agrees that democracy is the only just regime and, indeed, is the best regime simply. But our time is also the one in which Nietzsche has triumphed. Most would agree that he is the most influential thinker of our time. Yet Nietzsche is the most profound, passionate, and immoderate critic of modern democracy. He emphatically denies that modern democracy is a just regime and has contempt for the notion that it is the best regime. In the midst of the triumph of democracy, he is a radical partisan of aristocracy. Nietzsche was not the first aristocrat thinker who lived in an age in which democracy had triumphed. Both Aristotle and Tocqueville shared that fate. Yet, unlike Nietzsche, Aristotle and Tocqueville offered only moderate critiques of democracy and seemed to make their peace with the reigning regime. Each, in his way, could even be said to be a friend of democracy. Why was Nietzsche, in contrast, such an immoderate critic of democracy? Is his immoderate partisanship defensible? More important, is Nietzsche correct about modern democracy's defects? Can contemporary partisans of democracy offer a persuasive response to Nietzsche's critique?