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Letting Nietzsche inside schools? Educational potential and an acknowledgement of the optimism of his philosophy

Abstract

The aim of this article is to identify the educational interest of Nietzsche’s fundamental philosophical principles. To this end, Nietzsche’s work “The Gay Science” and corresponding references from other fragments of his corpus have been aggregated for the needs of this goal. An analysis of the book’s major propositions indicates an epistemological approach to educational matters, based on knowledge’s refutability and its validation through experimentation. Other parts of this work, stress out the incompatibility of Nietzsche’s philosophy with a democratic education. His philosophical concepts of social order and destiny’s accomplishment are presented in favour of this claim. Finally, the most unique propositions in The Gay Science are unveiled and their potential incorporation into the educational process is proposed. In particular, the values of appearance and fallacy emerge, illuminating the optimistic side of his philosophy. From an educational perspective, these values recommend limiting excess rationalism in classrooms and maintaining students’ learning interest by focusing on their emotional needs.

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The datasets analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Notes

  1. This dispute seems to correspond with the supposed association of his philosophy with Nazi ideology (Gadamer et al. 2003) or its theoretical struggle against socialism (Johnson 1996, p. 24), as they both emerged after World War II.

  2. According to the principle of the content analysis methodology, every script conveys its author’s intentions and principal beliefs (Vamvoukas 2011).

  3. GS, §: 11, 57, 109, 112, 121, 166, 196, 242, 249, 286, 301, 333, 374.

  4. GS, PR 3, §25, 33, 51, 265, 351.

  5. GS, JCR: 1, 3, 7, 8, 12, 14, 21, 23, 28, 32, 40, 43, 49, 60, §: 18, 28, 29, 99, 113, 120, 124,128, 185, 195, 285, 289, 303, 308, 314, 328, 329, 338, 343, 347, 375, 377.

  6. GS, §: 4,13,14, 21,118, 136, 143, 149, 195, 252, 283, 296, 328, 347, 349. It is probably well known that Nietzsche disdains woman nature and exclusively addresses his philosophy to men (GS, §: 66, 68, 70, 72, 119, 325), but we will not become further involved either in the sexism of his philosophy or his debatable antisemitism (§135, §135, §137).

  7. GS, JCR 10, 47, §89, 93, 105, 342, 370; TBT, An Attempt at Self Criticism.

  8. §98, 124, 335, 342, 344, 346, 356, 366 382. Similar to Nehamas’s interpretation on Nietzsche’s objection to the absolutism of morality (Johnson 1996, p. 29).

  9. As Aristotle defines “entelechy” (On the soul, 412a). Maybe in this meaning, Zarathustra’s final words could be explained: “Do I strive after happiness? I strive after my work!” (TSZ, Fourth part, the sign).

  10. GS, JCR 2, 4, PR 4, §: 59, 60, 77, 79, 80, 107, 158, 256, 284, 299, 383.

  11. “We need to discover the fool as much as the hero, in order to preserve our passion for knowledge” (§107, Our ultimate gratitude to art).

  12. This devaluation is consistent to the inconclusiveness of knowledge, which was explained previously.

  13. In response to §346, Our question mark and §382, The great health.

  14. In respect to this view, shouldn’t our universities strive for the systematic evaluation and organization of our vast research data in the field of Sciences of Education? Certainly, we do not intend to propose a prevalence of Positivism in our universities, but the need to maintain a balance among all the epistemological examples in the field of science.

  15. As in one of education’s etymological origin, from the Latin educere, that is, “to extract” (Koumanoudis 1972).

  16. Stolz (2017) also demonstrates the necessity of art for the educational process, in a hypothetical adaptation of Nietzsche philosophy to education, in the terms that culture can potential provoke an existential revelation to an educated person.

  17. As in Aristotle’s: “for the young in age, nothing unpleasant is volitionally tolerable” (Politics, 1964).

  18. Bojesen (2018) is mostly referred to Nietzsche’s late notebooks in order to justify his optimism. In The Gay Science, “happiness and pleasure” are valued equally with struggle and endangerment.

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Correspondence to Ioannis Skordis.

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Skordis, I., Kechagias, CT. & Antoniou, AS. Letting Nietzsche inside schools? Educational potential and an acknowledgement of the optimism of his philosophy. SN Soc Sci 1, 157 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43545-021-00158-x

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Keywords

  • Philosophy of Education
  • Nietzsche
  • The Gay Science
  • School education
  • Epistemology
  • Teaching strategies