Learning from Schopenhauer: Nietzsche and Houellebecq

A reading group on Nietzsche’s Schopenhauer as Educator and Houellebecq’s In the Presence of Schopenhauer led by J.G. Amato (Stanford University)

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Learning from Schopenhauer: Nietzsche and Houellebecq

Time & Location

Feb 09, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM PST

Zephyr Institute, 560 College Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA

About the Event

The classicist and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (d.1900) and the novelist and poet Michel Houellebecq (b.1956) would appear to have little in common besides their critiques of European modernity. The former advocated a nobility of spirit and self-overcoming, while the latter remains skeptical of any attempt to rise above basic human appetites and the foibles of fallen nature. Yet at a crucial time in their youth, both men encountered Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy, commonly maligned as pessimistic and atheistic––and were changed. Although both turned away from Schopenhauer, for Nietzsche he was “a true philosopher as an educator who could . . . teach me again to be simple and honest in thought and life,” and for Houellebecq, “a model for any future philosopher.” In this three-part seminar, we will read Nietzsche’s Schopenhauer as Educator and Houellebecq’s In the Presence of Schopenhauer, seeking to understand what both learned from Schopenhauer and what we can learn from all three.

This seminar will be taught by J.G. Amato.  Please purchase this Cambridge edition of Nietzsche and this  Polity press edition of Houellebecq, or ask Zephyr to set aside these copies for you. We shall meet on the following three Wednesdays, with dinner provided by the Zephyr Institute:

  1. Febuary 9th 2022, 530-730pm (Reading Assignment: "Schopenhauer as Educator")
  2. Febuary 16th 2022, 530-730pm (Reading Assignment: In the Presence of Schopenhauer)
  3. Febuary 23rd 2022, 530-730pm (Reading Assignment: Review each work)


J.G. Amato (PhD candidate, Early Modern European History) is a dissertation prize fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and has been awarded grants and fellowships from the US Fulbright Commission, the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, DC, Stanford University, and the University of Notre Dame.

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