"We cannot look around our own corner; it is a hopeless curiosity that wants to know what other kinds of intellects and perspectives there might be" —The Gay Science.
By Brianne Leith, AGI08
Walking through a blanket of humidity up the stairs of McDowell Hall, a rush of cold air welcomed all attendees on June 18. The Wednesday night lecture series had begun for the summer of 2014. Lecturer Jeff J.S. Black, director of the Graduate Institute in Annapolis, distributed printouts featuring quotes. There was anticipation, intellectual curiosity, and a rumble of conversation in the Great Hall. Black's lecture "On High Mountains: An Overview of Nietzsche’s Perspectivism” commenced with a quote from The Gay Science. (See video below)
The lecture, in Black's words, "discusses a teaching that first appears in The Gay Science, and is developed in Beyond Good and Evil and the Genealogy of Morals: that all seeing and all knowing is only from a perspective constituted by a particular kind of life. The lecture elaborates the details of this teaching, beginning with an image that appears early in The Gay Science, and then looks more carefully at the eye and the thing, the two poles of the perspectival relation, to consider how life and its drives determine a perspective, and what can be known from a perspective. It concludes with some reflections on the relation between perspectivism and esotericism, the difference between perspectivism and relativism, and the meaning for perspectivism of the eternal recurrence."
As the sun lowered through the windows, a burst of light illuminated a section of the riveted listeners. Like the concepts of Black's lecture, the rays permeated everyone's vision and provoked a new perspective. The Johnnie chairs squeaked intermittently as people squirmed with enlightenment. With a strong ending, Black poignantly reads his last quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, "Rather has the world become 'infinite' for us all over again, inasmuch as we cannot reject the possibility that it may include infinite interpretations."
An Annapolis resident and first-time participant of any St. John's events mused, "That was wonderful. Now I wish I knew more about Nietzsche. I should get some of his books."
Want to experience a lecture for yourself? Join us next Wednesday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m. for James M. Mattingly's "Hume's Philosophy of Science.” Click here to see the full schedule for the Annapolis Wednesday night lecture series.