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Nietzsche at Warwick : The Philosophy of the Free Spirit

With the generous support of the British Academy, the Department of Philosophy is hosting a workshop and a conference on Nietzshe's philosophy of the free spirit in March 2012 and March 2013.

The focus of the events is on Nietzsche's philosophy of the free spirit. This is a philosophy that Nietzsche begins to articulate in 1878 and results in three books known as 'the free spirit trilogy'. They are: Human, all too Human, Dawn or Daybreak, and The Gay Science. These are amongst the most neglected aspects of Nietzsche's corpus. The workshop will correct this neglect and deal with the following questions and topics:

Why does Nietzsche turn to a philosophy of the free spirit in 1878? How does this philosophy develop across the three texts? What is the attitude of the free spirit to (a) religion and (b) morality? How, if at all, does Nietzsche's philosophy of the free spirit change in his late period of writing (1886-8)? How does this philosophy influence the ethics, politics, and educational philosophy of 20th century and contemporary European thought? What is the relation of the free spirit philosophy of the good European to contemporary debates about cosmopolitanism?


The workshops will involve a close reading of selected materials from Nietzsche's texts, with a focus on the texts that make up his free spirit trilogy. The plan is to have a set of questions and topics to work through and to divide each workshop into four sessions.

March 2012

The dates are March 22-23 2012. Invited speakers for 2012 include: Christa Davis Acampora (Hunter College/CUNY), Rebecca Bamford (Rochester, MN), Duncan Large (Swansea), and Andreas Urs-Sommer (Freiburg). Invited speakers for 2013 include: Jessica Berry (Georgia), Paul Bishop (Glasgow), and Herman Siemens (Leiden).

March 2013

The dates are March 21 2013 (Thursday) and March 22 2013 (Friday). Speakers include: Rebecca Bamford (Quinnipiac), Jessica Berry (Georgia), Paul Bishop (Glasgow), Christine Daigle (Brock, Canada), and Herman Siemens (Leiden, the Netherlands).

Anyone interested in attending the March 2013 events should contact Dr Simon Scott to register: s dot scott dot 3 at warwick dot ac dot uk. Places for the workshop are limited, and you are advised to register your interest early.

Registration cost is as follows: £10.00 for single day; £15.00 for both days (payment by cheque, payable to ‘University of Warwick’ or by cash). Send to: Dr Simon Scott, Department of Philosophy (Social Studies), University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL.

The programme for both events, along with information on the workshop readings, can be found from the right hand links.


Questions to consider across the two gatherings include:

What is the status of Nietzsche's philosophy at this time: does it have any ontological or metaphysical commitments?

What is the basis of Nietzsche's critique of morality and religion at this time?

Is the philosophy of the free spirit anti-political?

What is 'the gay science' as a practice of, and an experimental engagement with, knowledge?

Is the death of God still a major theme of relevance today?

What does Nietzsche mean by the 'incorporation of truth and knowledge' being our task and experiment today, especially with regard to contemporary education?

What changes take place in Nietzsche's conception of the free spirit in his late writings, and what significance do these have?


How to get to the University

For travel details and information on how to get to the Univeristy please see here also there are campus maps and further information on visiting the University available here


We recommend staying at our luxurious on-campus conference centre. Full details and bed and breakfast rates are available here.

There are also local hotels or bed and breakfast in Kenilworth, Leamington Spa or Coventry, both of which have frequent bus links to the University of Warwick (details above). There are several reasonably priced B&B’s in the area which will be able to take your booking. Some examples are: