In Hegel ou Spinoza,1 Pierre Macherey challenges the influence of Hegel’s reading of Spinoza by stressing the degree to which Spinoza eludes the grasp of the Hegelian dialectical progression of the history of philosophy. He argues that Hegel provides a defensive misreading of Spinoza, and that he had to “misread him” in order to maintain his subjective idealism. The suggestion being that Spinoza’s philosophy represents, not a moment that can simply be sublated and subsumed within the dialectical progression of the history of philosophy, but rather an alternative point of view for the development of a philosophy that overcomes Hegelian idealism. Gilles Deleuze also considers Spinoza’s philosophy to resist the totalising effects of the dialectic. Indeed, Deleuze demonstrates, by means of Spinoza, that a more complex philosophy antedates Hegel’s, which cannot be supplanted by it. Spinoza therefore becomes a significant figure in Deleuze’s project of tracing an alternative lineage in the history of philosophy, which, by distancing itself from Hegelian idealism, culminates in the construction of a philosophy of difference.
It is Spinoza’s role in this project that will be demonstrated in this paper by differentiating Deleuze’s interpretation of the geometrical example of Spinoza’s Letter XII (on the problem of the infinite) in Expressionism in Philosophy, Spinoza,2 from that which Hegel presents in the Science of Logic.3