Nietzsche at Basel

The New York Times‘s extended article on Rand’s influence includes some snark from philosophers over whether she really was a philosopher. Oh, come on.

nietzsche_50x57It reminds me of Friedrich Nietzsche’s reception by the philosophers at the University of Basel (I haven’t come across their names in the history books) when Nietzsche assumed his teaching position there. As biographer Marianne Cowen tells it, the professors told their students not to take Nietzsche’s courses since he was a lightweight and not really a philosopher:

“For a time, Nietzsche, then professor of classical philology at the University of Basle, had no students in his field. His lectures were sabotaged by German philosophy professors who advised their students not to show up for Nietzsche’s courses.”

It’s the same old story of conservative insiders — many of them ideological, many of them second rate, many of them one-issue thinkers, many of them turf warriors — resisting the innovative outsider. We’ll see how it goes when Rand’s arguments are engaged more systematically within the profession.

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