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OpenLearn Live: 29th February 2016

Updated Monday, 29th February 2016

The father of the original superman wasn't Jor-El, and not everyone uses social media in the same way. Free learning throughout the day.

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OpenLearn Live makes the link between free learning and the worlds you live in. This page will be updated across the day.

On Friday, we rounded off a week of fabulous walls, explored the language of Savile reports, and looked forward to today's new newspaper

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

The Irish election

The count in the Irish general election is still being finished up, but it's likely that even when the last results are announced, the nation will still find itself uncertain as to who forms the new government. Muiris MacCarthaigh explains the complicated numbers making an outcome unclear:

In a way, the two big beasts of Irish politics, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have reassumed their traditional positions as the two largest parliamentary parties.

Centre-right Fine Gael remains the largest party, despite losing almost a third of its parliamentary seats. Its message of “keeping the recovery going” is deemed to largely have been met with derision by an electorate still feeling the effects of economic crisis.

Meanwhile, centrist Fianna Fáil seems to be experiencing a rehabilitation. In government before and during the economic crisis, the party suffered near wipeout in the 2011 election, but has more than doubled its seats this time round.

With both hovering at around 20% of the vote (rather than the 35%+ usually needed to form a coalition with one or more of the other smaller parties) it seems a union of these two parties is the only option. However, there remains significant opposition to working together. The two trace their roots to opposing sides in the Irish civil war of 1922.

As had been expected, Labour, the outgoing junior coalition partner, was decimated at the polls. The party has taken much of the blame for the austerity imposed over the past five years. Having won 37 seats in 2011, it is now struggling even to hold on to the seven needed to secure parliamentary speaking rights.

Sinn Féin continues its trajectory of growth in the Republic, increasing its seat numbers from 14 to at least 22. With less than 15% of first preference votes, however, there may be some disappointment that the party did not do better. Pre-election polls suggested around 20% was possible. The party has also ruled out entering into a coalition with either of the two biggest parties.

Read the full article: Irish election 2016

Why we post: social media around the world

The last item in that list of newbies from FutureLearn - Why we post - is tied to the publication of some fascinating research from the University of Central London about how social media is used around the world:


The researchers have made fifteen discoveries - some of which will be less of a discovery to regular users, some which challenge the common assumptions of social media fans and critics alike. For example, what you may think you know about privacy changes when you travel to Brazil:

 Even though they know about them, people do not use the privacy settings on social media, because Facebook is primarily a place for showing aspirations, not for revealing secrets or showing poverty.

Read the research at the Why We Post site

Read Why are social scientists interested in social networking?

New from FutureLearn this week

Our regular* Monday (*except when we don't do it) update on what our friends over at FutureLearn are kicking off this week:

New free course: Introducing the voluntary sector

We're really proud to unveil a brand new free course today: Introducing the voluntary sector:

The course will guide you through some of the distinctive features and values of the voluntary sector, how organisations are funded and involve volunteers and other ‘stakeholders’ in their work. It will also provide you with knowledge and skills you can apply to your own work or volunteering as well as your everyday life.

You can study at your own pace - for ease, the course is chopped into advisory segments that would provide an eight-week experience, but you can choose if you'd like to go faster or take things at a more gentle pace. Whatever speed you choose, you can earn one of our fabulous free 'badges', which are accompanied by a statement showing what you've learned.

Try Introducing the voluntary sector

Find out more about badges

Superweek: Superman

This week it's Super Tuesday - and so to mark the occasion, we're celebrating all things super here on OpenLearn. Every day, we'll be starting up with something dubbed 'super'. We have got Super Noodles on our shortlist at the moment, so who knows where we'll end up?

To start off, we're going to explore the idea of Superman. Not the slightly dull superhero, but Friedrich Nietzsche's original idea of the übermensch.

Friedrich Nietzsche Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: Public domain The father of the 'superman'

Nietzsche described the superman - the übermensch - in his 1838 book, Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra):

When Zarathustra arrived at the nearest town which adjoineth the forest, he found many people assembled in the market-place; for it had been announced that a rope-dancer would give a performance. And Zarathustra spake thus unto the people:

I TEACH YOU THE SUPERMAN. Man is something that is to be surpassed. What have ye done to surpass man?

All beings hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and ye want to be the ebb of that great tide, and would rather go back to the beast than surpass man?

What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock, a thing of shame. And just the same shall man be to the Superman: a laughing-stock, a thing of shame.

Ye have made your way from the worm to man, and much within you is still worm. Once were ye apes, and even yet man is more of an ape than any of the apes.

Even the wisest among you is only a disharmony and hybrid of plant and phantom. But do I bid you become phantoms or plants?

Lo, I teach you the Superman!

The Superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: The Superman SHALL BE the meaning of the earth!

I conjure you, my brethren, REMAIN TRUE TO THE EARTH, and believe not those who speak unto you of superearthly hopes! Poisoners are they, whether they know it or not.

Despisers of life are they, decaying ones and poisoned ones themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so away with them!

Once blasphemy against God was the greatest blasphemy; but God died, and therewith also those blasphemers. To blaspheme the earth is now the dreadfulest sin, and to rate the heart of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth!

Once the soul looked contemptuously on the body, and then that contempt was the supreme thing:—the soul wished the body meagre, ghastly, and famished. Thus it thought to escape from the body and the earth.

Oh, that soul was itself meagre, ghastly, and famished; and cruelty was the delight of that soul!

But ye, also, my brethren, tell me: What doth your body say about your soul? Is your soul not poverty and pollution and wretched self-complacency?

Verily, a polluted stream is man. One must be a sea, to receive a polluted stream without becoming impure.

Lo, I teach you the Superman: he is that sea; in him can your great contempt be submerged.

What is the greatest thing ye can experience? It is the hour of great contempt. The hour in which even your happiness becometh loathsome unto you, and so also your reason and virtue.

The hour when ye say: "What good is my happiness! It is poverty and pollution and wretched self-complacency. But my happiness should justify existence itself!"

The hour when ye say: "What good is my reason! Doth it long for knowledge as the lion for his food? It is poverty and pollution and wretched self-complacency!"

The hour when ye say: "What good is my virtue! As yet it hath not made me passionate. How weary I am of my good and my bad! It is all poverty and pollution and wretched self-complacency!"

The hour when ye say: "What good is my justice! I do not see that I am fervour and fuel. The just, however, are fervour and fuel!"

The hour when ye say: "What good is my pity! Is not pity the cross on which he is nailed who loveth man? But my pity is not a crucifixion."

Have ye ever spoken thus? Have ye ever cried thus? Ah! would that I had heard you crying thus!

It is not your sin—it is your self-satisfaction that crieth unto heaven; your very sparingness in sin crieth unto heaven!

Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue? Where is the frenzy with which ye should be inoculated?

Lo, I teach you the Superman: he is that lightning, he is that frenzy!—

When Zarathustra had thus spoken, one of the people called out: "We have now heard enough of the rope-dancer; it is time now for us to see him!" And all the people laughed at Zarathustra. But the rope-dancer, who thought the words applied to him, began his performance.

Nietzsche's philosophy didn't survive the 20th century well, coming to be seen as the Nazi's first-choice philosopher. Although, like most things involved with the Nazis, they didn't really care much for the broader, subtle aspects of Nietzsche's thoughts, choosing to amplify the bits that worked best for Hitler.

His adoption by the Nazis is down, in part, to his choice of editor and literary executor, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. She was his sister, but also the wife of an anti-Semite, Bernhard Förster. The pair had attempted to found a "pure" German colony, Nueva Germania, in Paraguay. Back in altes Germany after that failed, Elisabeth took control of her brother's legacy, and went out of her way to recast him as a racist thinker along her own lines.

For a clearer view of what Nietzsche had in mind, let's turn to The School Of Life:


See more about Nietzsche from OpenLearn

Try our free course Introducing Philosophy





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