“We are unknown to ourselves, we knowers: and with good reason.”

The modern world tells us—and we tell ourselves—that we are enlightened and free, but it isn’t true. Our claims to knowledge are just another moral prejudice; our ostensible freedom is disguised slavery.  So contends Friedrich Nietzsche in his On the Genealogy of Morality, where he punctures the self-satisfaction of socialists, democrats, reformers, the bourgeoisie, philosophers, scientists, and anyone else who claims to have it all figured out.

This three-week reading group will discuss the three treatises of the Genealogy and debate the following claims: 

  • February 10 Is Democracy Slavery? (First Treatise, “ ‘Good and Evil,’ ‘Good and Bad’” pp. 10-34) 
  • February 24 Is Justice Real? (Second Treatise, “ ‘Guilt,’ ‘Bad Conscience,’ and Related Matters, pp. 35 – 67) 
  • March 10 Does Science Kill Life? (Third Treatise, “What do ascetic ideals mean?” pp. 68 – 120) 


The reading group will be led by David Lyons, Assistant Instructional Professor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago. Each week, we will meet and discuss over dinner at Gavin House (1220 E. 58th St.). Dinner is served at 6pm. Discussion begins at 6:15. The goal is to think deeply about the text, ask meaningful questions, and debate in good faith.  Perhaps we’ll even touch on the meaning of life. Questions can be directed to Austin Walker.