Ethics after Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality I

Instructor: Mehdi Parsa

Prerecorded module #2Ver. 1.1 (9 July, 2022)

This course aims to unpack the developments of ethical thought in continental European philosophy (particularly in France) after and in response to Nietzsche’s critique of morality which appears in his Genealogy of Morality and Beyond Good and Evil. The main conceptual distinction that I’m going to elaborate is between morality and ethics. And the main problematic is that how can we have a good life in a world in which there is no transcendent moral principle. Nietzsche’s critique of morality clears the space for French philosophers to think about a possibility of an immanent ethics.

The course is divided into three sections:

  • Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality: Against Formalism;
  • Michel Foucault’s Idea of Parrhesia as the Element of Ethics;
  • Gilles Deleuze’s Reading of Stoic ethics in Logic of Sense.

Students who register for this course get:

  • 8 video-taped lectures, with a total running time of 225 minutes;
  • Lecture notes with key points from the course;
  • An indicative reading list;
  • A set of optional tasks to check your learning;
  • Course diploma (beta version).
  • Familiarity with history of philosophy, particularly modern and contemporary philosophy with a focus on continental tradition.
  • Students of philosophy, social sciences, humanities, and art;
  • Graduate students with solid knowledge of Continental Philosophy.


The first section on Nietzsche contains a brief account of Nietzsche’s critique of Kant’s moral theory in particular and any normative moral theory in general. Its main focus is the link between normative morality and moral formalism which is the target of Nietzsche’s critique. As an ethical alternative, Nietzsche proposes the notion of life as the element of ethics.
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The second section, including three lectures, I discuss Michel Foucault’s idea of Parrhesia which appears in the second year of his College de France lectures, The Courage of Truth. Here, I demonstrate how Foucault locates the notion of truthfulness at the center of philosophy and in this way gives an ethical nature to philosophy in its entirety.
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The third section, again including three lectures, deals with Gilles Deleuze’s reading of the Stoic ethics. Here, I discuss the central role of the notion of event in Deleuze’s ethical thought and how this role entails a powerful link between ethics and ontology.
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Register to watch
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Additional materials

Register to download the reading list

Register to download the handouts

Register to download the assignment sheet