How I’m Self-Studying Nietzsche (Resources & DIY Course Syllabus)

Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking a DIY Intro to Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy course that I designed myself.

So far, it’s been an enchanting, though difficult, experience.  

The guy’s an incredibly skilled and subtle writer, and he’s constantly challenging my thinking about morality, lifestyle, and religion.  

Since I know he’s a thinker a lot of people want to study, I thought it’d be helpful to share my overall approach for breaking into his works and the resources I’m using.  

A Step-by-Step Breakdown of my DIY Nietzsche Course

A) Overall Context

  1. Read the Wikipedia page on Nietzsche (lame, I know, but useful for basic context).
  2. Raymond Guess Lectures on Nietzsche

B) Beyond Good and Evil

  1. Read this short article on Beyond Good and Evil from University of Idaho.
  2. Read Beyond Good and Evil (including it’s introduction).
  3. Watch this Beyond Good and Evil summary and analysis.
  4. Write my own summary of Beyond Good and Evil’s main points and favorite parts.

C) On the Genealogy of Morals

  1. Read this LitChart’s summary of the book.
  2. Read On the Genealogy of Morals (including it’s introduction).
  3. Watch this summary and analysis (same channel as before).
  4. Write my own summary of Genealogy with main points and favorite parts.

D) Secondary Literature on Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy

  1. Read Nietzsche on Morality, by Brian Leiter

E) The Final Essay  

  1. Write an essay answering the question “what were the main components of Nietzsche’s moral philosophy?”

Why write a final essay?

I’ve been leaning more into organizing DIY courses around a certain question I’d really like to answer. I find that having some sort of test at the end of my reading forces me to be more deliberate in my book selection, note-taking, and syllabus creation.

The writing of an essay also forces you to synthesize all that you’ve learned into an articulate, informed, and sophisticated opinion. 

That’s a cool thing to have on hand. 

But the real beauty of essay writing is that it forces you to clarify your thinking, fill in gaps in your understanding of the topic, and examine your ideas in a critical fashion. 

So the real benefit is that you become a stronger thinker, while also retaining what you read at a higher level than if you were to just consume all the information and move onto your next study topic.

Why all the additional resources, and not just the primary sources? 

I’ve come to realize that reading texts and watching videos about the primary source helps me understand it at a deeper level.

This is, after all, what scholars do in philosophy or literature programs. They study not only the key text but also several articles about different aspects of it, and they have a teacher summarize the text for them and call out the key points that are most important to remember and reflect on.  

You can read more about why I believe autodidacts should pair secondary literature with primary sources in my article here.   

Anyway, I hope this was helpful to any autodidacts looking to study this famous philosopher, or any philosopher for that matter.

Feel free to tweak that DIY course I made and base it on a question you’re interested in figuring out, like what was Nietzsche’s main critique of christianity? or something like that. 

The ideal DIY course for you will be one you stick to, and the one you stick to will be the one that’s focused on your interests. So build out the reading list and course materials from there.


After graduating college with an econ degree I realized I was still anything but well-educated. Over the last 4 years, I've been trying to fix that, autodidact-mode — by reading books and engaging in self-directed study across multiple subjects. On this blog, my goal is to share my learnings and help others get a well-rounded education outside of school. Education, after all, is a lifelong process, one well worth the investment.

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