Nietzsche characterized ‘nihilism’ as hostility to life and nature, a kind of ‘rejection’ of the world as it is given to us. Discuss the relevance of this insight for the contemporary world, whether concerning the influence of applied science and technology on concrete, day-to-day existence, or the increased theatricalization of life.
2. Max Weber claimed that the ‘spirit’ of modern capitalism emerged out of the Protestant ethic. In particular, he stressed that the consequence of certain theological positions, at the level of daily life, ‘was a feeling of unprecedented inner loneliness of the single individual’.
Discuss the relevance of this claim for contemporary individualism, in particular concerning its connection with the success ethic and consumerism jointly promoted by modern capitalism.
3. Max Weber introduced the term charisma into the social theory and political sociology. This was complemented in lectures with the anthropologically derived term ‘trickster’. In what ways can charismatic leaders and ‘tricksters’ be related, especially under conditions of the increased role played by the media? How can such similarities and differences be relevant for understanding contemporary politics? Illustrate your argument with a concrete example.
4. Tocqueville argued that modern revolutions (like the American and the French) might actually lead to a ‘tyranny of the majority’. Discuss the relevance of this insight for the contemporary world, especially the power exerted by increasingly mediatic forms of the ‘public sphere’, including the theatrical aspects of public performance. Pick one