This guide has an introduction and five chapters, one for each of the parts of Spinoza's Ethics. The Introduction includes background material necessary for productive study of the Ethics: advice for working with Spinoza's geometrical method, a biographical sketch of Spinoza, and accounts of important predecessors: Aristotle, Maimonides, and Descartes. The chapters that follow trace the Ethics in detail, including accounts of most of the elements in Spinoza's book and raising questions for further research. Chapter 1, "One Infinite Substance," covers (...) central arguments of Spinoza's substance monism. Chapter 2, "The Idea of the Human Body," follows Spinoza's detailed metaphysics of ordinary objects, his theory of mind, and his epistemology. Chapter 3, "Desire, Joy, and Sadness," works from Spinoza's broad theory of finite activity in the striving to persevere in being to his detailed accounts of human action and passion. Chapter 4, "Bondage to Passion," emphasizes Spinoza's formal theory of value, his intellectualism in ethics, and particular claims about value that follow from these commitments. Chapter 5, "The Power of the Intellect," begins with Spinoza's criticism of Descartes's account of our ability to control passion and moves to Spinoza's own theory, which emphasizes reason, the eternal part of the mind, and human blessedness. (shrink)
Spinoza is a hardcore realist about the nature of human beings and their desires, ambitions, and delusions. But he is neither a misanthrope nor in the business of glorifying the notion of a primal and innocent non-human nature. As he writes: Let the Satirists laugh as much as they like at human affairs, let the Theologians curse them, let Melancholics praise as much as they can a life that is uncultivated and wild, let them disdain men and admire the lower (...) animals. Men still find from experience that by helping one another they can provide themselves much more easily with the things they require, and that only by joining forces can they avoid the dangers that threaten on all sides. Indeed, Spinoza’s Ethics is a book whose aim is to lead us toward human blessedness and freedom. The question I will try to answer in the present study, then, is the following. Given his sober attempt to rid humanity of its self-aggrandizing illusions and to offer a naturalistic account of human nature, what does Spinoza see as the source of the value of humanity (if it has any)? In order to address the various aspects of this question, I will begin by examining the value of human friendship. Then, in the second part of the paper, I will consider the thorny question of whether Spinoza’s deflationary view of humanity’s status within nature allows for any notion of human dignity. In the third and final part, I will examine the value Spinoza ascribes to rationality, and the implications of this issue for his understanding of the value of humanity. (shrink)
In this paper I defend an eudaimonistic reading of Spinoza’s ethical philosophy. Eudaimonism refers to the mainstream ethical tradition of the ancient Greeks, which considers happiness a naturalistic, stable, and exclusively intrinsic good. Within this tradition, we can also draw a distinction between weak eudaimonists and strong eudaimonists. Weak eudaimonists do not ground their ethical conceptions of happiness in complete theories of metaphysics, epistemology, or psychology. Strong eudaimonists, conversely, build their conceptions of happiness around an overall philosophical system that extends (...) far beyond ethics, while nevertheless being directed at the promotion of a happy life. I will show that Spinozistic happiness is not only naturalistic, stable, and exclusively intrinsically good, but that Spinoza is also a strong eudaimonist because his ethical account of happiness is incomprehensible without appeal to metaphysical, epistemological, and psychological doctrines. As well, I will explain how the apparent subjective and relativistic features of Spinoza’s ethics do not undermine the eudaimonistic reading, because both Spinoza and the ancient eudaimonists grant that the beliefs/feelings of the subject play a necessary (but insufficient) role in happiness as the highest good. Published on 2023-03-24 11:32:59. (shrink)
In the lecture of December 16, 1980, Deleuze proposes a cross-reading of Spinoza and Rousseau. First, Deleuze reinterprets Rousseau’s morality in the light of Spinoza’s critique of ‘morality’ based on the opposition of good and evil; second, and reciprocally, he rereads Spinoza’s practical and ethical philosophy from a concept extracted from Rousseau’s work: that of the ‘materialism of the wise’. According to Deleuze, this ‘practical materialism’ evoked by Rousseau, consisting of both ‘determinism’ and ‘sensualism’, has a Spinozist inspiration, insofar as (...) it has an amoralist dimension, close to the critique of morality developed in the Ethics. But on the other hand, Rousseau’s ‘materialism of the wise’ allows us, conversely, to reread the Spinozist explanation of the conquest of freedom, by revealing the presence of practical principles very close to those of Rousseau’s ethical materialism. The cross-reading of Spinoza and Rousseau thus presents a double aim: on the one hand, to identify the presence of amoralist themes and issues in Rousseau’s work; on the other, to reveal the existence of materialist principles in the Spinozist ethical itinerary. (shrink)
Spinoza and Kant are considered to be polar opposites with respect to ethics. The radical difference between them is supposed to consist in Spinoza’s ethical egoism, or interest-based Strebensethik, and Kant’s duty-cantered, deontological Sollensethik. I challenge this opposition and argue that both in Kant and Spinoza we deal with a notion of the self’s realization that is “interest”-based and therefore does not involve self-sacrifice. I show, on the one hand, that the streben in Spinoza’s Strebensethik consists in realising one’s essentially (...) human interest, which resides in ethical-rational action, and, on the other hand, that sollen in Kant’s Sollensethik is in fact a streben of the Kantian “proper self” (eigentliches Selbst) after the realization of its ethical-rational interest. (shrink)
What effects are produced in an encounter between what Gilles Deleuze calls Spinoza’s ‘practical philosophy’ and abolition? Closely following Deleuze’s account of Spinoza, this essay moves from the reifying and weakening punitive moralism of carceral state thought towards a joyful materialist abolitionist ethic. It starts with the three theses for which, Deleuze argues, Spinoza was denounced in his own lifetime: materialism (devaluation of consciousness), immoralism (devaluation of all values) and atheism (devaluation of the sad passions). From these three, it derives (...) three parallel abolitionist theses: (1) Spinozan materialism undermines the reifications of carceral state thought; (2) Spinozan ethics undermines the punitivism of the carceral state; and (3) Spinozan joy is inversely proportional to the power of the carceral state. While Spinoza’s corpus may not give us an adequate account of the complex dynamics of the carceral state and racial capitalism today, this essay argues that in the infinite streams of the Ethics we nonetheless find some vital strategies through which we might compose an anomalous alliance between this condemned philosopher and abolition. (shrink)
This article frames the poetry of William Wordsworth and the philosophical writings of Spinoza as mutually illuminating works exploring the ethical and ontological questions raised by bodies in states of passivity and immobility. Both writers, it argues, revise our idea of what a “powerful” body might be by developing the concept of “dynamic passivity”—a passivity that does not stand in simple opposition to states of activity, and that ought to be cultivated rather than overcome in the process of empowering the (...) body. The article examines and contrasts the different ways in which Wordsworth and Spinoza conceive of this dynamic passivity, with particular attention paid to how the former embeds a cultivation of “wise passiveness” for the reader in the very form of his poems, through a variety of elements like syntax, metre, and acoustic effects. (shrink)
Throughout much of his career, Deleuze repeats a problem he attributes to Spinoza: “we do not even know what a body can do.” The problem is closely associated with Deleuze’s parallelist reading of Spinoza and what he calls ethology. In this article, I argue that Deleuze takes ethology to be a new model for philosophy which he intends to replace ontology. I ground my claim in Deleuze’s sugges-tion that Spinoza offers philosophers the means of “thinking with AND” rather than “thinking (...) for IS.” The argument is developed through Deleuze’s monographs and collaborations on Spinoza and alongside his meta-philosophical critique of the Image of Thought. (shrink)
Despite the theoretical uptake of ontological schemas that do not tie agency uniquely to individual humans, these new ontological geographies have had little penetration when it comes to designing institutions to prevent grave wrongs. Moreover, our persistent intuitions tie agency and responsibility to individuals within a figuration of blame. This article seeks to connect new materialist and actor network theories with the design of institutions that seek to prevent torture. It argues that although research into the causes and conditions of (...) torture points to the inadequacy of agent-centric explanations, the preponderance of prevention interventions emphasize the role of individual human agents. New materialist and ANT approaches could afford a rich theoretical underpinning for prevention approaches by addressing the broad ecology of causal factors. Drawing on Spinoza, the article considers the affective impediments to the uptake of understandings and their correlate practices that require moving beyond agent-centric explanations for grave wrongs. So long as anger, indignation and blame colonize the individual and broader institutional spheres, they will almost inevitably bind us to a particular type of inadequate causal analysis and make other types of preventative responses appear as derelictions of our duty to hold wrongdoers responsible for their acts. (shrink)
Spinoza'sEthicspromises a path for sweeping personal transformations, but his accounts face two sets of overarching problems. The first concerns his peculiar metaphysics of action and agents; the second his apparent neglect of the very category of persons. Although these are somewhat distinct concerns, they have a common, unified solution in Spinoza's system that is philosophically rich and interesting, both in its own right and in relation to contemporary work in moral philosophy. After presenting the core of the problem facing Spinoza's (...) action theory, I turn to his overlooked account of selves, one that can be illuminated by contemporary work on so-called deep-self theories. I then show how Spinoza's distinctive account of selves prevents his action theory from collapsing into metaphysical incoherence, and conclude with an implication for Spinoza's broader account of transformation. (shrink)
Contributors: Steven Barbone, Laurent Bove, Edwin Curley, Valérie Debuiche, Michael Della Rocca, Simon B. Duffy, Daniel Garber, Pascale Gillot, Céline Hervet, Jonathan Israel, Chantal Jaquet, Mogens Lærke, Jacqueline Lagrée, Martin Lin, Yitzhak Y. Melamed, Pierre-François Moreau, Steven Nadler, Knox Peden, Alison Peterman, Charles Ramond, Michael A. Rosenthal, Pascal Sévérac, Hasana Sharp, Jack Stetter, Ariel Suhamy, Lorenzo Vinciguerra.
Andrew Youpa offers an original reading of Spinoza's moral philosophy, arguing it is fundamentally an ethics of joy. Unlike approaches to moral philosophy that center on praiseworthiness or blameworthiness, Youpa maintains that Spinoza's moral philosophy is about how to live lovingly and joyously. His reading expands to examinations of the centrality of education and friendship to Spinoza's moral framework, his theory of emotions, and the metaphysical foundation of his moral philosophy.
In this paper, two different ways of thinking about individuality in Spinoza are presented to draw out what is at stake in trying to make sense of what could be described as a double point of view of the degree of the power to act of a singular thing in Spinoza’s Ethics: sometimes it seems to be fixed to a precisely determined degree; sometimes it seems to admit a certain degree of variation. The problem of resolving this apparent contradiction has (...) been responsible for a variety of interpretations among scholars working in the field of Spinoza studies, notably the different interpretations of Spinoza’s theory of relations offered by Pierre Macherey and Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze’s interpretation of the dynamic changes in an individual’s power to act diverges somewhat from that of Macherey. For Macherey, dynamic changes are incorporated by an individual according to the varying degree, or proportion, to which the active expression of its fixed power to act are inhibited or limited. Whereas for Deleuze, an individual’s power to act is open to “metaphysical” or ontological changes. An individual for Deleuze is limited by the passive affections that it experiences in its interactions with other more composite bodies, which, at any given moment, have the potential to limit its further integration, and, therefore, the further development of its power to act, and by consequence, its actual existence. This limit determines the margin of variation, or proportion, of the expression of the given individual’s power to act, which varies from a minimum, below which it would cease to exist (intensity = 0), to a maximum, which would only be limited by the extent to which its power to act is further integrated at any given moment in more composite relations, expressing the affective life of the individual. The paper will examine the implications of this difference to their respective interpretations of Spinoza, with a view to characterising the role that Spinoza plays in Deleuze’s broader project of constructing a philosophy of difference. (shrink)
The claim of this paper is to present Spinoza’s view on self-esteem and positive reciprocity, which replaces the human being in a monistic psycho-dynamical affective framework, instead of a dualistic pedestal above nature. Without naturalising the human being in an eliminative materialistic view as many recent neuro-scientific conceptions of the mind do, Spinoza finds an important entry point in a panpsychist and holistic perspective, presenting the complexity of the human being, which is not reducible to the psycho-physiological conditions of life. (...) From a panpsychist point of view, qualities and values emerge from the world, in a situation similar to what could be seen in animism, or early childhood psychology, where the original distance between the mind and the exterior thing is reduced ad minima, and both can even interrelate in a confusing manner. Human reality is nevertheless a social reality, it supposes a basis for shared competencies, that we will present as grounded on the one hand of the sustaining character of the essence of the animal-man as will-to-power. Negatively speaking we all share same asocial tendencies and affects. This aspect is not only negative but it is also a will to develop and master the environment, because values have an onto-metaphysical immanent dimension in nature, not because there is an individual bottom-up will to survive, but rather a will to live in harmony with the surrounding world. On the other hand, we shall see that Spinoza understood and described perfectly the power of the mind over the power of the affects, as a co-constituting dimension, which is alienating natural dependencies, leaving an inner space for the objectification of ethical values, not related to mere compensation mechanisms. (shrink)
Samuel Newlands presents a sweeping new interpretation of Spinoza's metaphysical system and the way in which his metaphysics shapes, and is shaped by, his moral program. Engaging with contemporary metaphysics and ethics, Newlands reveals just how exciting and vibrant Spinoza's philosophical outlook remains for philosophers today.
Disability studies has begun to employ Rosi Braidotti’s posthumanism, as a means to challenge the exclusionary model of man, dominant both in the academy and in everyday life. Braidotti argues that we must embrace a new form of subjectivity to effectively address the academic, environmental and species challenges characterizing the posthuman condition. This critical posthuman subject is inspired, in part, by Baruch de Spinoza, read as a monistic philosopher of difference. In this article, I compare Braidotti’s posthuman philosophy with Spinoza’s (...) Ethics, read through a Deleuzian lens. The two projects are extremely different. My arguments are twofold: first, that Braidotti’s subjective reading overlooks Spinoza’s anti-subjective rationalism; and, second, that we must be cautious about Braidotti’s demands that we jettison all vestiges of man from philosophy, exploring disability or anything else. I make my case using the example of phenomenology. I end by asking what an expanded understanding of Spinoza’s philosophy means for disability studies, for posthumanism and for other forms of radical philosophy in the future. (shrink)
Au premier abord, les visées et les méthodes philosophiques de Spinoza et de Sartre semblent radicalement différentes. Or, ces différences radicales se trouvent dépassées dès qu'on se penche sur une problématique commune à ces deux philosophes : la production et le maintien de la communauté libre. Une interrogation philosophique sur la question de l'articulation de l'éthique et de la politique nous donnera la possibilité d'évaluer ces philosophes comme les constituants d'une certaine théorie anticontractualiste se fondant spécifiquement sur l'idée de l'émancipation (...) perpétuelle de l'individu dans et par la communauté."--Page 4 of cover. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that Spinoza’s understanding of virtue and collective flourishing, rooted in his psychological and ethical egoism, offers a fresh perspective on the question of egoism in education. To this end, I suggest an understanding of the teacher as egoist, where the self-seeking of the teacher is conditioned by – and runs parallel to – the flourishing of his or her students. The understanding of the egoistic teacher is offered as a productive counter-image to the altruistic ideal (...) in education as well as to the commonplace conception of the teacher as primarily a provider of services and the student as a consumer on an educational market. (shrink)
Spinoza rarely refers to art. However, there are extensive resources for a Spinozist aesthetics in his discussion of health in the Ethics and of social affects in his political works. There have been recently been a few essays linking Spinoza and art, but this essay additionally fuses Spinoza’s politics to an affective aesthetics. Spinoza’s statements that art makes us healthier (Ethics 4p54Sch; Emendation section 17) form the foundation of an aesthetics. In Spinoza’s definition, “health” is caused by external objects that (...) maintain our power to act in a variety of ways. Humans need such objects because our complex bodies constantly lose or consume many parts necessary to our overall functioning. Notably, Spinoza defines humans’ bodies through this complexity (2p13Sch), so health as maintenance of complexity is a distinctly human endeavor. Further, while art is not the only healthy activity, I argue that art is a particularly potent cure, which explains Spinoza’s otherwise opaque comment that music can cure melancholy (by which he meant a near-total inability to act, akin to death). Rather than only causing frivolous pleasures, art may be as essential to human flourishing as are other human beings in general; other people are “most useful” because of the variety of actions they make possible (4p35Cor & Sch1). Art’s production of a dizzying variety of affects is likewise most useful for health. -/- Having established how art in general affects the individual, I then explain the role of artists in shaping social groups. Artists use vivid and highly charged affective techniques, as do political sovereigns and religious prophets (TTP chapters 1-2 & 15-16). However, sovereigns and prophets are concerned exclusively with “morality,” defined by Spinoza as the use of affects (primarily based on fear and hope) to produce “obedience” in the generic multitude or people at large. An artist, however, rarely causes affects in the whole nation, affecting instead only a smaller niche or “sub-genre” of people. The affects produced in this group are also not identical to those used by sovereigns, since artists do not primarily deploy sad affects of hope and fear but instead use a wide variety of joyful affects. Further, in Spinoza’s analysis of ceremonies (TTP chapter 5), we see how small groups exposed to repeated ceremonies or social practices eventually develop new strengths which they lacked before. Repeated exposure to shared aesthetic “ceremonies” (e.g., live music performances) of the same sub-genre will over time create the capacity of new powers in the sub-genre of people, which distinguishes them from the masses. Spinoza says sovereigns forge a “second nature” for the generic people through affects; we can then affirm that smaller groups exposed to a distinct sub-genre of art can acquire a new “third nature” which will contain unique powers extending beyond healthy maintenance of their existing bodies. That is, art in general is necessary to flourish and remain whole (maintaining health), but it can also occasionally expand what one is to unforeseen heights (through specific artistic sub-genres). (shrink)
The problem of forgiveness may rightly be regarded as a perennial philosophical problem. But of what sort? Introducing his 1973 contribution to the discussion, entitled simply "Forgiveness"—an essay that remains the standard reference for contemporary discussions of the problem, especially in the Anglo-American philosophical community—Aurel Kolnai writes that while the ethical nature of the problem is indisputable, he intends his argument "to be chiefly logical in nature: the central question I wish to discuss is … whether, and if so in (...) what manner, [forgiveness] is logically possible at all."1 The problem, as Kolnai develops it in the first two sections of his essay, is that forgiveness seems to be either... (shrink)
Michael LeBuffe explains claims about reason in Spinoza's metaphysics, theory of mind, ethics, and politics. He emphasizes the extent to which different claims build upon one another so contribute to the systematic coherence of Spinoza's philosophy.
Among Spinoza’s principal projects in the Ethics is his effort to “remove” certain metaethical prejudices from the minds of his readers, to “expose” them, as he has similar misconceptions about other matters, by submitting them to the “scrutiny of reason”. In this article, I consider the argumentative strategy Spinoza uses here – and its intellectual history – in depth. I argue that Spinoza’s method is best characterised as a genealogical analysis. As I recount, by Spinoza’s time of writing, these kinds (...) of arguments already had a long and illustrious history. However, I also argue that, in his adoption of such strategies, we have good reason to think Spinoza’s primary influence was Gersonides. Elucidating this aspect of Spinoza’s critique of his contemporaries’ axiologies brings a number of explicatory and historical boons. However, regrettably, it also comes at a cost, revealing a significant flaw in Spinoza’s reasoning. Towards the end of this article, I consider the nature of this flaw, whether Spinoza can avoid it and its ramifications for Spinoza’s wider philosophical project. (shrink)
In this commentary, I respond to the core question of Ruddick’s paper: How does the theoretical dethroning of humanity force us to reinvent ethics? In so doing, I expand on Spinoza’s profound contribution to the radical rethinking of the subject at the level of ontology. Although Ruddick invokes Spinoza, first and foremost, as a potential resource for ethics in light of climate disruption, I conclude that those resources offer only a glimmer of how to live differently. The work of re-imagination (...) at the level of metaphysics is flourishing, but we have yet to develop its implications for ethics and politics. (shrink)
Spinoza and Education offers a comprehensive investigation into the educational implications of Spinoza’s moral theory. Taking Spinoza’s naturalism as its point of departure, it constructs a considered account of education, taking special care to investigate the educational implications of Spinoza’s psychological egoism. What emerges is a counterintuitive form of education grounded in the egoistic striving of the teacher to persevere and to flourish in existence while still catering to the ethical demands of the students and the greater community. -/- In (...) providing an educational reading of Spinoza’s moral theory, this book sets up a critical dialogue between educational theory and recent studies which highlight the centrality of ethics in Spinoza’s overall philosophy. By placing his work in a contemporary educational context, chapters explore a counterintuitive conception of education as an ethical project, aimed at overcoming the desire to seek short-term satisfaction and troubling the influential concept of the student as consumer. This book also considers how education, from a Spinozistic point of view, may be approached in terms of a kind of cognitive therapy serving to further a more scientifically adequate understanding of the world and aimed at combating prejudices and superstition. -/- Spinoza and Education demonstrates that Spinoza’s moral theory can further an educational ideal, where notions of freedom and self-preservation provide the conceptual core of a coherent philosophy of education. As such, it will appeal to researchers, academics and postgraduate students in the fields of philosophy of education, theory of education, critical thinking, philosophy, ethics, and Spinoza studies. (shrink)
Comment Spinoza peut-il être encore aujourd'hui notre "contemporain"? Les études ici rassemblées proposent plusieurs types de réponses à cette question au coeur des relations entre la philosophie et son histoire. C'est d'abord la persistance d'un dialogue entre les philosophes contemporains (Deleuze, Derrida, Milner, Negri...) et Spinoza. C'est la mise en évidence du soubassement classique de questions éthiques contemporaines (la nature du scepticisme, le bonheur, l'immortalité prothétique dans l'indéfinie différance de la mort). C'est surtout (telle est la thèse générale de l'ouvrage) (...) une vision de la politique selon l'extériorité, l'immanence et la loi quantitative du "compte". Quand les "valeurs" (derniers restes de la transcendance) sont source de violence, les comptes démocratiques sont source de paix. La démocratie comme "régime absolu", pour reprendre les derniers mots de Spinoza, est encore devant nous. (shrink)
This paper demonstrates that an ethical justification for political resistance can be found in Spinoza’s writings. It establishes that important elements of his ethical analysis of politics entail an ethical imperative to actively resist any attempt on the part of the sovereign to abolish or unduly curtail freedom of thought and expression. It shows that, under such circumstances, active resistance will be in accord with reason: (1) the less it is motivated by any species of hatred; and (2) the more (...) it serves to empower people. Since freedom of thought and expression necessarily involves the freedom to engage in the philosophical critique of prejudices, and the latter can itself function as a form of political resistance, the ethical imperative to preserve libertas philosophandi amounts to an enjoinder to preserve a form of perpetual resistance within the normal functioning of the rationally-ordered state. (shrink)
Spinoza: Moral Philosophy Like many European philosophers in the early modern period, Benedict de Spinoza developed a moral philosophy that fused the insights of ancient theories of virtue with a modern conception of humans, their place in nature, and their relationship to God. Unlike many other authors in this period, however, Spinoza was strongly … Continue reading Spinoza: Moral Philosophy →.
The ambition of the "ethical anthropology" established by the author is to think about ethics as a process of becoming by way of a new and precise reading of Spinoza and to give a significant place to affects, desire, imagination, personal history, and encounters.
In this essay, I claim that certain passages in Book IV of Benedict de Spinoza’s Ethics suggest a novel version of what is known as metaethical constructivism. The constructivist interpretation emerges in the course of attempting to resolve a tension between Spinoza’s apparent ethical egoism and some remarks he makes about the efficacy of collaborating with the right partners when attempting to promote our individual self-interest. Though Spinoza maintains that individuals necessarily aim to promote their self-interest, I argue that Spinoza (...) has an atypical conception of self that allows the interests of other people to be partially constitutive of one's own self-interest. In this way, Spinoza can account for the rationality of concern for the interests of others. This interpretation attributes to Spinoza a form of constructivism that differs in important ways from contemporary Humean and Kantian constructivisms and which can in principle be detached from Spinoza’s particular metaphysical commitments in order to yield a third general category of constructivist view. Though my treatment is necessarily brief, it is my hope that it can serve both to motivate a constructivist reading of Spinoza and, perhaps even more crucially, to suggest a Spinozistic variety of constructivism as a live theoretical option in metaethics. (shrink)
This work examines Michel Foucault’s critique of the present, through his analysis of our hidden but still active historical legacies. His works from the Eighties are the beginning of what he called a “genealogy of the desiring subject,” in which he shows that practices such as confession—in its juridical, psychological, and religious forms—have largely dictated how we think about our ethical selves. This constrains our notions of ethics to legalistic forbidden/required dichotomies, and requires that we engage in a hermeneutics of (...) the self which consistently fails to discover its imagined authentic self, or to find the happiness and freedom promised by contemporary ethics. In order to think the modern self in different terms, Foucault’s later works analyzed Classical and Hellenistic ethical sources, emphasizing their distance from today. He hoped doing so would allow us to rethink our current assumptions about ethical matters, the truth of oneself, and the relation to others. While Foucault’s genealogical descriptions critically diagnosed contemporary ills such as these, he did not prescribe a cure, preferring to let his readers experiment with new practices of their own design. This work attempts such an experiment, supplying concrete solutions to our ethical ills, in order to help us improve, as well as understand, our ethical selves. To that end, this work demonstrates that a form of subjectivity based on Benedict Spinoza’s ethical and political works avoids the pitfalls of modern ethics as diagnosed by Foucault. Additionally, the practices of the self found in Spinoza can be used to directly counter and displace each central element of “desiring subjectivity,” and thus supplies the kind of effective positive move which should follow after genealogical critique. (shrink)
Thirteen original essays by leading scholars explore aspects of Spinoza's ethical theory and, in doing so, deepen our understanding of it as the richly rewarding core of his system. They resolve interpretive difficulties, advance longstanding debates, and point the direction for future research.
Chapter 5 addresses the provisional morality of the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect (TIE). The young Spinoza proposes that even as one works at emending the intellect, one should live by certain rules, which one must assume to be good. One should accommodate ordinary ways of speaking and living to the extent that one can without compromising one’s project. One should enjoy pleasures in moderation. Finally, one should seek instrumental goods only insofar as they are necessary for health (...) and social acceptability. In order to explain shifts in Spinoza’s views about the way that individuals should live while pursuing the good, the chapter traces developments in his accounts of ideas and of the relationship between the philosopher and society. (shrink)
Wichtige Aspekte der Spinoza-Rezeption sind lange Zeit im Hintergrund geblieben. Spinoza galt seit dem öffentlich gemachten Bekenntnis des Aufklärers Lessing zum Hen kai Pan als Vertreter einer Substanzenontologie für Atheisten. Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi war es, der 1785 und 1789 eine breite Debatte um Pantheismus, Atheismus, letztbegründende Prinzipien der Metaphysik, ferner um Freiheit und Notwendigkeit auslöste. Spinozas Trieb- und Affektenlehre blieb in der Forschung weitgehend unbeachtet. Weniger lautstark als im ausgehenden 18. Jahrhundert, aber durchaus wirksam, ist Spinoza im 20. und 21. (...) Jahrhundert durch Denker wie Gilles Deleuze oder den Neurologen Antonio Damasio erneut in den Fokus der Aufmerksamkeit geraten. Diesmal ist es Spinozas vormals wenig beachtete Affektenlehre, die für Theorien vom ganzen, nicht bloß vom einseitig rationalen Menschen Interesse weckte. Galt das Interesse der Aufklärung der Rationalität des Denkens, die gegen Aberglauben und Irreführungen der Vernunft ins Recht zu setzen war, so wenden sich das 20. und das 21. Jahrhundert der Entdeckung der Intelligenz und Rationalität der Gefühle zu – zuerst in der Psychologie, bald auch in der Philosophie. Der Band nimmt das neue Interesse an Spinoza zum Anlass zu untersuchen, ob und inwieweit im Deutschen Idealismus, in der Romantik und im 19. Jahrhundert bis heute der andere Spinoza, der Spinoza einer bemerkenswerten Trieb- und Affektenlehre sowie des amor Dei intellectualis, wahrgenommen wurde. Die Beiträge zu Spinoza selbst, zu Jacobi, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Hardenberg/Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel, Schleiermacher, schließlich zu Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, Lacan, Deleuze zeigen, dass dieser andere Spinoza durchaus in der einen oder anderen Weise gesehen wurde. Mit Beiträgen von Karl Ameriks, Andreas Arndt, Ulrich Barth, Wolfgang Bartuschat, Arno Böhler, Konrad Cramer, Bärbel Frischmann, Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch, Ulrike Kadi, Thomas Kisser, Jane Kneller, Konrad P. Liessmann, Elizabeth Millán, Ursula Renz, Helma Riefenthaler, Violetta L. Waibel, Reiner Wiehl und Jure Zovko. (shrink)
The theme of the conflict between the different interpretations of Spinoza’s philosophy in French scholarship, introduced by Christopher Norris in this volume and expanded on by Alain Badiou, is also central to the argument presented in this chapter. Indeed, this chapter will be preoccupied with distinguishing the interpretations of Spinoza by two of the figures introduced by Badiou. The interpretation of Spinoza offered by Gilles Deleuze in Expressionism in Philosophy provides an account of the dynamic changes or transformations of the (...) characteristic relations of a Spinozist finite existing mode, or human being. This account has been criticized more or less explicitly by a number of commentators, including Charles Ramond. Rather than providing a defence of Deleuze on this specific point, which I have done elsewhere, what I propose to do in this chapter is provide an account of the role played by “joyful passive a affections” in these dynamic changes or transformations by distinguishing Deleuze’s account of this role from that offered by one of his more explicit critics on this issue, Pierre Macherey. An appreciation of the role played by “joyful passive affections” in this context is crucial to understanding how Deleuze’s interpretation of Spinoza is implicated in his broader philosophical project of constructing a philosophy of difference. The outcome is a position that, like Badiou in the previous chapter, rules out “intellect in potentiality” but maintains a role for the joyful passive affects in the development of adequate ideas. (shrink)
A filosofia de Benedictus de Spinoza tem oferecido a estudiososcontemporâneos da ética ambiental uma valiosa fonte de inspiração.Pesquisadores como Arne Naess, por exemplo, têm usado a firme críticade Spinoza ao antropocentrismo como uma base teórica para a formulaçãode uma ética eco-cêntrica. Neste artigo, argumentarei que a apropriaçãoque Naess faz da filosofia de Spinoza para justificar que o não-humano édepositário de ‘valor intrínseco’ contém problemas. Meu objetivo principalé o de elucidar o sentido no qual a crítica de Spinoza ao antropocentrismonão contradiz (...) uma visão da ética que seja fortemente centrada no humano.The philosophy of Benedictus de Spinoza has providedcontemporary environmental ethicists with invaluable inspiration. Scholarssuch as Arne Naess, for instance, have used Spinoza’s resolute critique ofanthropocentrism as a theoretical basis for the formulation of an eco-centricethics. In this paper I argue that Naess’ appropriation of Spinoza’s philosophyin order to justify that the non-human are depository of ‘intrinsic value’contains problems. My main objective is to elucidate the sense in whichSpinoza’s critique of anthropocentrism does not contradict a strongly humancentredethicalview. (shrink)