The few passages in Spinoza’s work in which he focuses on the concept of human law have not received as much scholarly attention as passages focused on other themes, but they have still been very well examined. It is true that most of these studies do not directly aim to determine whether Spinoza adopts a normative conception of human law in the political-legal field or, if he does adopt such a conception, what the conditions under which he could do so (...) could be, given the logical-causal necessitarianism and naturalism of his metaphysics, explicitly reaffirmed in paragraph 3 of Chapter IV of the TTP. However, this problem is unavoidable, and it is precisely to this matter that I would like to contribute, in a rather modest way, by examining the answer that Spinoza himself offers in the passage just cited. My purpose is to demonstrate that these four paragraphs clarify how and why Spinoza can introduce a source of regulation of our actions (which is referred to by the expression “ab placito humanum”) that is different from the principles that necessarily follow from our nature without violating the basic tenets of his metaphysics. (shrink)
Si chacun a le pouvoir de vivre selon la raison, comment se fait-il que si peu la suivent, alors même qu'un grand nombre s'en réclament? Certains voient le meilleur, mais font le pire. D'autres font le pire en croyant qu'il est le meilleur. Tous font tout ce qu'ils peuvent, et se réjouissent finalement de ce qu'ils sont. La philosophie de Spinoza rend compte de ces paradoxes : toute puissance est en acte. Qui peut le plus s'efforce nécessairement de faire le (...) plus et ne peut faire moins. Qui peut le moins fait le moins volontiers, sans pouvoir faire plus. Chacun est aussi parfait qu'il peut l'être, et agit de la façon dont il y est disposé, malgré lui mais de gré, si ce n'est de bon gré. Le concept de disposition, tel qu'il s'élabore dans l'Éthique, permet de saisir la pratique commune des hommes dans un cadre nécessitariste et actualiste, de l'inconstance affective à la régularité des coutumes, des obsessions passionnelles à l'éducation et à l'affranchissement de la servitude. L'existence humaine n'est pas une comédie, encore moins une tragédie. Avec Spinoza, il s'agit d'en produire l'intelligence. (shrink)
Spinoza’s celebrated doctrine of the conatus asserts that “each thing, as far as it can by its own power, strives to persevere in its being” (E3p6). Shortly thereafter Spinoza makes the further claim that the (human) mind strives to increase its power of acting (E3p12). This latter claim is commonly interpreted as asserting that human beings (and their associations) not only strive to persevere in their existence, but also always strive to increase their power. Spinoza’s justification for E3p12 relies (among (...) others) on E3p6. For this reason, it seems reasonable that we strive to increase our power because having more power is likely to help us persevere in our being. The more power we have, the less likely we are to be out-powered by external causes that may conflict with our striving for persevering in our existence. The logic here is quite sound. Insofar as human beings are mere finite modes, i.e., entities whose existence is not guaranteed by their mere essence, and are distinct from other finite modes with whom we interact in various manners, it would seem that our striving for power should be insatiable. No finite degree of power can ever guarantee the continuation of our existence. On one occasion, Spinoza even defines good and evil as “what increases or diminishes, aids or restrains, our power of acting” (E4p8d). Having this sound logic in mind, we should be taken aback by a brief claim Spinoza makes in passing in the seventh chapter of Political Treatise. In this passage, Spinoza seems to assert that the stability of a state – which is one of the chief political virtues for Spinoza – is a function of having just the right degree of power, not less, but also, not more. The passage seems to imply that having too much power might be detrimental to the state. But how can such a view be consistent with Spinoza’s assertion and approval of our constant “will to power” in the Ethics? In the current paper, I will explain the tension between these two strands in Spinoza’s thought, and attempt to reconcile them. I will begin with a close examination of the passage from the seventh chapter of the TP, and its apparent contrast with Spinoza’s claim in the Ethics about our striving to increase our power of acting. I will then turn, in the second part, to consider whether Spinoza’s claims in TP Ch. 7 – a chapter dedicated to the exploration of the nature of non-tyrannical monarchy – are valid only with regard to a monarchic state, or whether we may generalize the claim that having too much power might be harmful to other forms of the state or even other kinds of individuals. In the third and final part I will attempt to solve the tension between Spinoza’s apparently conflicting claims by looking more closely at Spinoza’s understanding of human power, and its political dimensions. (shrink)
Is it correct to accept an anthopological dimension in Baruch Spinoza’s doctrine? Regardless of the answer we may suggest for this point, how could be this connected to the prevailing Humanism of the immediately previous period in which our author lived? Our proposal points to a positive stance in relation to the presence of an anthropological perspective in Spinoza’s thought; perspective that may be seen as a reaction to that kind of Renaissance humanism that sees the human being in Nature (...) a privileged kind. Therefore, in this paper we are going to analyse the way the concept of man evolves from this to the Spinozian formulation as a foundation in which it can be possible to accept the study of a certain Anthropology in his work. (shrink)
O artigo aborda o ponto de vista do pensar como uma ‘virtude’ em vez de habilidade cognitiva. A noção do pensamento e da alegria em Espinosa é o fulcro de uma concepção não-instrumental da filosofia. A comunidade de investigaçâo da Filosofia com as Crianças é uma prática na que pode-se ver refletida esta inspiração espinosana.Partindo da noção do pensamento como uma expressão da potência essencial de cada indivíduo, são exploradas aqui as noções de diversão e tédio para argumentar que, embora (...) sem garantias, a experiência da filosofia é uma forma de virtude e auto-afirmação do que chamamos espinosamente de alegria do pensar na escola. (shrink)
There can be little doubt that without Spinoza, German Idealism would have been just as impossible as it would have been without Kant. Yet the precise nature of Spinoza's influence on the German Idealists has hardly been studied in detail. This volume of essays by leading scholars sheds light on how the appropriation of Spinoza by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel grew out of the reception of his philosophy by, among others, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Jacobi, Herder, Goethe, Schleiermacher, Maimon and, of course, (...) Kant. The volume thus not only illuminates the history of Spinoza's thought, but also initiates a genuine philosophical dialogue between the ideas of Spinoza and those of the German Idealists. The issues at stake - the value of humanity; the possibility and importance of self-negation; the nature and value of reason and imagination; human freedom; teleology; intuitive knowledge; the nature of God - remain of the highest philosophical importance today. (shrink)
The Preface to Part 4 of Spinoza’s Ethics claims that we all desire to formulate a model of human nature. I show how that model serves the same function in ethics as the creed or articles of faith do in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, the function of allowing the imagination to provide a simularcrrum of rationality for finite, practical human beings.
This article critiques Elizabeth Grosz's understanding that queer theory is unproductive insofar as it disrupts the specific identities of gay and lesbian. Reconsidering ideas about desire, the body, and identity that Grosz takes from Gilles Deleuze's work on Friedrich Nietzsche and Baruch Spinoza, this essay argues that, despite her productive reworking of homophobia in terms of “active” and “reactive” forces, Grosz's application of Spinoza is only partial. Focusing on Spinoza's evaluation of bodies, the essay both critiques Grosz's approach to experimental (...) desire and observes Spinozist preoccupations in order to talk about the experimental body. It concludes that if Grosz were to attend more seriously to the Spinozist imperative to analyze a body in terms of its capabilities—that is, its power to be affected—the epistemological basis of her argument would change. It would be difficult to dismiss the plurality and sensibility of a queer body or its challenge to lesbian and gay as the source of a primary identity. (shrink)