Alexander Douglas and Christoph Schuringa – Spinoza and Nietzsche On Valuing

Event Date: 17 – 18 May 2013

Room B01
Clore Management Centre
Birkbeck, University of London
Torrington Square
London WC1E 7HX

The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities presents:

Spinoza and Nietzsche in Dialogue

A two-day conference

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in 1881: “I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! [T]his most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil.

This conference brings together scholars from around the world working in differing intellectual traditions to explore the many connections between the thought of Spinoza and Nietzsche. Both are in a range of respects radical thinkers with a highly individual approach to the tradition that preceded them. This event will put Spinoza and Nietzsche in dialogue, and in so doing widen the dialogue among scholars, and in addition bring the discussion to a wide public.


Alexander Douglas
(King’s College London) and Christoph Schuringa (Birkbeck)– Spinoza and Nietzsche On Valuing

This paper examines a distinctive approach to the nature of value that, we argue, Spinoza and Nietzsche share. This approach contrasts with that of most moral philosophers in beginning with an analysis of valuing, rather than taking values as its starting point. That is, they both start from the human activity of valuing in their attempt to get clear on what values are.

We begin by outlining Spinoza’s theory of valuing as we understand it. This requires an examination of Spinoza’s theory of desire, upon which his theory of valuing depends. We then examine Nietzsche’s theory of valuing, which is seen to depend on his theory of drives. We end by showing that, although their accounts overlap in the significant ways outlined above, they also diverge in an interesting way. Nietzsche, we argue, highlights an important gap in Spinoza’s account. But, we contend, Spinoza also provides the resources to indicate a difficulty in Nietzsche’s account.

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