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Nietzche's Rejection of Stoicism; A reinterpretation of Amor fati

Nietzsche's famous notion 'amor fati' is often associated with the Stoic maxim to 'live in accordance with nature'; we have to fully accept our fates in order to attain happiness. But is happiness really what Nietzsche's 'amor fati' is about? And how to account for all the fiercely critical remarks on Stoicism we find in his texts? This dissertation presents a more refined interpetation of 'amor fati', against the background of a thorough analysis of Nietzsche's peculiar reception and rejection of Stoicism.

Hedwig Gaasterland
01 March 2017

Full text in Leiden University Repository


This thesis investigates Nietzsche's reception of Stoicism, and whether there is evidence for Stoicism influencing Nietzsche's conception of amor fati. Although secondary literature has made it seem plausible that amor fati carries traces of Stoicism, pointing to the conceptual parallels between the love of fate and the Stoic therapy of a life ‘in accordance with nature’, this historical study shows that this claim is unlikely. In the first and last chapters a thorough textual analysis is presented of amor fati, showing that the concept undergoes a significant development from 1881/1882 to 1888. The amor fati of 1881/1882 should be situated in the context of Nietzsche's growing interest in physiology, I claim. The middle chapters uncover Nietzsche's engagements with Stoicism, based on a study of all explicit (and implicit) references to Stoicism. I conclude that Nietzsche's focus is restricted mostly to the context of the scientific quest for knowledge, thereby putting in perspective the assumption that Nietzsche's interest is mainly therapeutic. Although Nietzsche seems sympathetic to a Stoic attitude in 1870, he unequivocally rejects it in 1881/1882, in the same Book of Die fröhliche Wissenschaft in which, not coincidentally, amor fati for the first time occurs in the published works.