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Spinoza: A Philosopher for Our Time?

Spinoza: A Philosopher for Our Time?

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  • Fri 26 May ’17, 4:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Sat 27 May ’17, 9:15am – 9:00pm
  • Sun 28 May ’17, 9:45am – 5:15pm


University of Auckland Engineering Building, 20 Symonds Street, Auckland CBD


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • All Days: Waged: $215.00
  • All Days: Unwaged/ Concession/ Student: $109.00
  • Half Day - Opening Night - Friday 26th May Evening: $0.00
  • Half Day - Centerpiece - Saturday 27th May Afternoon: $59.00
  • Half Day - Closing Pleneries- Sunday 28th May Afternoon: $59.00
  • Half Day - Paper Presentations - Saturday 27th May Morning: $59.00
  • Half Day - Paper Presentations - Sunday 28th May Morning: $59.00
  • Masterclass with Moira Gatens - Friday 26th May Morning: $0.00
  • Conference Dinner - Saturday 27th May Evening: $38.00
  • Master class with Susan Ruddick - Thursday 25th May Morning: $0.00



The great Dutch-Jewish philosopher Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77) has long been a major figure of world intellectual life.

This conference will be the largest gathering in New Zealand in recent times of international Spinoza scholars. All are invited. Spinoza’s influence can be seen in many different fields - politics, ecology and environmentalism, literature, art, architecture and planning, geography, education, neuroscience, physics, theology, and more.

His magnum opus, the Ethics, contains a whole theory of existence in less than two hundred pages, while also effectively offering a manual for human life: what it means to live well and be happy, to join forces with the other forces around us, to reconfigure our raging doubts and natural appetites into a state of equanimity, and to manage the inevitable human suffering that comes with being finite and mortal.

Spinoza was also a remarkable political thinker and is considered one of the intellectual progenitors of liberal, secular democracy - his ideas were generative of many of the principles that now underpin modern free societies.

Speakers at the conference will address general aspects of Spinoza’s philosophy, but the conference has a more specific twofold theme: “The Arts of Spinoza” and “Pacific Spinoza”. In the “Arts of Spinoza” sessions, speakers will discuss Spinoza’s importance for the arts and architecture.

In the “Pacific Spinoza” sessions, speakers will situate Spinoza’s philosophy within the particular locus of New Zealand, Australasia, the South Pacific, and the Pacific Rim.

Keynote Events:
Friday 26th May: An architecture- and planning-themed opening night. An evening of talks and a film screening on the philosophy of cities, urban natures, urban ecologies, and the housing crisis.

Featuring: Susan Ruddick (Professor of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto), and via video conferencing, Peg Rawes (Professor of Architecture & Philosophy, Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London), and Beth Lord (Reader in Philosophy, University of Aberdeen). Includes drinks and finger food.

Saturday 27th May: Centrepiece plenaries, featuring Moira Gatens (Challis Professor of Philosophy, University of Sydney) and Anthony Uhlmann (Professor of Writing and Society, University of Western Sydney) on 'the arts of Spinoza'.

Plus a panel on Spinoza and indigenous ontologies, with Carl Mika (Senior Lecturer, Education, University of Waikato) and Albert Refiti (Senior Lecturer, Spatial Design, AUT), and, via video conferencing, Jacob Culbertson (Assistant Professor in Anthropology, Haverford College). Includes afternoon tea at an exhibition finissage at St Paul Street Gallery (an opportunity to see works by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz anD Ngahuia Harrison on the last day of these shows).

Sunday 28th May: Closing plenaries, featuring Michael Lebuffe (Baier Chair in Early Modern Philosophy, University of Otago), and a roundtable discussion on 'Spinoza Here and Now'.

Includes afternoon tea.

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