Module VPR-3303:
Paradoxes of Self: Nietz..Jung

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Lucy Huskinson

Overall aims and purpose

This module explores how we can make sense of the nature and dynamics of a meaningful and flourishing life in the context of the thought and personalities of two iconic thinkers of philosophical, religious, and psychological thought: Friedrich Nietzsche and C.G. Jung.

Both characterise the self as essentially divided, with opposite impulses, and interpret life as an attempt to negotiate these divisions and bring the opposites into creative interplay. The prize for those who successfully harness the tensions of the opposites is realization of their respective and infamous conceptions of the ideal human being: the Nietzschean Übermensch or ’superman’, and the Jungian ‘Self’. Failure leads to a stagnant life.

Students will examine the striking similarities and important differences between their projects for a flourishing life, before putting them to the test by evaluating the personalities of Nietzsche and Jung according to their own and each other’s projects: to ascertain whether they themselves were able to harness the opposites creatively, and embody their ideals.

Nietzsche went mad, and Jung’s most extensive case study attempts to analyse the reasons why. He concludes that Nietzsche identified with the Übermensch, and thereby failed to reconcile the opposites appropriately and in such a way as to realise the ‘Self’. Students will be encouraged to evaluate Jung’s conclusions in light of Jung’s own personal investment in Nietzsche. While Jung claimed Nietzsche’s ideas were a strong influence his own, he also admits to fearing that he too would become ‘mad’ like Nietzsche.

Questions then arise as to whether Nietzsche’s project can be absolved from Jung’s critique, and indeed over the extent to which either project is viable and has useful for us to consider in the living of our own lives.

Course content

This module explores how we can make sense of the nature and dynamics of a meaningful and flourishing life in the context of the thought and personalities of two iconic thinkers of philosophical, religious, and psychological thought: Friedrich Nietzsche and C.G. Jung.

Both characterise the self as essentially divided, with opposite impulses, and interpret life as an attempt to negotiate these divisions and bring the opposites into creative interplay. The prize for those who successfully harness the tensions of the opposites is realization of their respective and infamous conceptions of the ideal human being: the Nietzschean Übermensch or ’superman’, and the Jungian ‘Self’. Failure leads to madness.

Students will examine the striking similarities and important differences between their projects for a flourishing life, before putting them to the test by evaluating the personalities of Nietzsche and Jung according to their own and each other’s projects: to ascertain whether they themselves were able to harness the opposites creatively, and embody their ideals.

Nietzsche went mad, and Jung’s most extensive case study attempts to analyse the reasons why. He concludes that Nietzsche identified with the Übermensch, and thereby failed to reconcile the opposites appropriately and in such a way as to realise the ‘Self’. Students will be encouraged to evaluate Jung’s conclusions in light of Jung’s own personal investment in Nietzsche. While Jung claimed Nietzsche’s ideas were a strong influence his own, he also admits to fearing that he too would become ‘mad’ like Nietzsche.

Questions then arise as to whether Nietzsche’s project can be absolved from Jung’s critique, and indeed over the extent to which either project is viable and has useful for us to consider in the living of our own lives.

Learning outcomes

  1. be able to compare and contrast philosophical understandings about the nature and dynamics of opposites.

  2. have acquired an understanding of how an important philosophical concept can develop in meaning in the course of history and across cultures, and an awareness of some of the implications of this development on other related ideas

  3. have developed the capacity to apply and evaluate philosophical ideas of selfhood to philosophical case studies.

  4. have considered a number of central philosophical issues, including questions concerning symbolism, the limits of reason, metaphysics, ethical agency, and creativity.

  5. have developed oral and written skills in philosophic exegesis and argumentation.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 50
Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Seminar 7
Private study 178
Lecture 15

Courses including this module