Oct. 5, 2000
Vol. 20 No. 2

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    Two opponents of democracy topic of Olin Center lectures

    By William Harms
    News Office

    This year, the John M. Olin Center lecture series will look at the paradox posed by the popularity of two philosophers–Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger–who were hostile to the idea of liberal democracy.

    The series “Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Future of Democracy” examines the work of the two thinkers and their influence, said Robert Pippin, the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and a conference organizer.

    “Liberal democracies are based on an assumption that individuals are responsible for their actions, and they respond to the forces of reason,” Pippin said. “Both Nietzsche and Heidegger disagreed with this position.

    “Despite this opposition to, even contempt for, liberal-democratic institutions, these two thinkers have become quite influential in American and European academic communities. We want to explore why this is true,” Pippin said.

    The series will begin Wednesday, Oct. 11, with an address “The Future of Mankind: Humanity After Nietzsche and Heidegger” by Volker Gerhardt, a professor at the Institute for Philosophy at Humboldt University, Berlin. Gerhardt has written six books, including Nietzshe: Pathos and Distance (a collection of essays on Nietzsche); Friedrich Nietzsche; and On the Will to Power: the Anthropology and Metaphysics of Power, As Exemplified in the Case of Friedrich Nietzsche; and most recently, Self-Determination.

    Richard Rorty, professor of comparative literature at Stanford University, will present “The Decline of Redemptive Truth and the Rise of the Literary Culture,” on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Rorty received an A.B. in 1949 and an A.M. in 1952 from the University and a Ph.D. in 1956 from Yale University. He is the author of nine books, including Essays on Heidegger and Others: Philosophical Papers II.

    James Porter, professor of classical studies at the University of Michigan, will present “Nietzsche and the Seductions of Metaphysics,” on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Porter received a B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1977, and an M.A. in 1979 and Ph.D. in 1986 from the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of two books, including the recently published Nietzsche and the Philology of the Future.

    All sessions will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Room 122 of the Social Science Research Building, 1126 E. 59th St.