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Nietzsche and Law


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Modern European Philosophy

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Moral and Political Philosophy

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Humanities

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics


This course will study Nietzsche’s complex and multi-faceted relation to law (Gesetz) in its various forms. The concept of law has a central, but profoundly ambivalent place in his thought. On the one hand it is an intrinsic feature of reality or life understood as a multiple and incessant process of fixing (Fest-setzen) power relations. On the other, the unifying and eternalising functions of traditional concepts of law stand in radical contradiction to the plural and dynamic character of life: law is life-negating. On one side, Nietzsche is highly critical of law, especially the moral law and laws of nature. On the other, his thought comes to gravitate around the problem of the right measure of law and the search for affirmative forms of law that stabilize and enhance life. Topics to be covered in the course include: Nietzsche’s Heraclitus and ‘immanent law’; wisdom as taste (Geschmack) and ‘lawfulness without a law’; Nietzsche and Kant on ‘the law of genius’; the critique of positive law in Nietzsche and Hegel; ‘There are no laws’: chaos, necessity and laws of nature in the middle works; radically individual self-legislation and Simmel’s ‘das individuelle Gesetz’; Zarathustra’s agon of legislation: ‘Herrschen? Grässlich!’; overcoming nihilism from within and ‘the law of life’; the deferral of legislation and the ‘philosophers of the future’.

Course objectives

To be announced.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Assignments (reading preparations) and presentations

  • Final exam (5000 word paper + texts commentaries)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of:

  • Assignments and presentations: 50%

  • Final exam (paper + commentaries): 50%


Students can resit the exam if their overall grade for the entire course is 5 or less (i.e., the calculated result of weighted components is lower than 5.5). The resit will consist of the final exam (5000 word paper + texts commentaries) and counts for 50% of the overall grade. Papers and commentaries that fail will need to be rewritten in line with instructor’s comments. The grades for the assignments and presentations remain in place.

Class attendance and participation is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

Discussion of the paper is by appointment after publication of the final grade.

Reading list


  • Various texts from the ‘Kritische Studienausgabe’ (DTV/de Gruyter, 1980 ff.) of Nietzsche’s writings, available online (Nietzsche Online) via the library.

Nietzsche’s writings are all translated into Dutch and available from the library. The published texts and small parts of the Nachlass are translated into English. Students will have to read the German together with their chosen translation.

Secondary literature

Various articles / chapters from the seconday literature, to be assigned on a weekly basis, incuding some from: Nietzsche and Law, eds. Francis Mootz III and Peter Goodrich (Series: Philosophers and the Law, Ashgate, Aldershot).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


A passive knowledge of German is a great advantage.