In Andre Santos Campos (ed.), Spinoza: Basic Concepts. Imprint Academic. pp. 142-154 (2015)

Authors
Sandra Leonie Field
Yale-NUS College
Abstract
The concept of imperium is central to Spinoza's political philosophy. Imperium denotes authority to rule, or sovereignty. By extension, it also denotes the political order structured by that sovereignty, or in other words, the state. Spinoza argues that reason recommends that we live in a state, and indeed, humans are hardly ever outside a state. But what is the source and scope of the sovereignty under which we live? In some sense, it is linked to popular power, but how precisely, and how is this popular grounding to be reconciled with the absolutist elements in Spinoza's texts? Against prominent liberal and radical democratic interpretations, I argue that Spinoza's insistence on linking imperium to the power of the people amounts to a normative attitude towards politics in which the formal features of a political system are less significant than the concrete everyday functioning of that system. Furthermore, I argue that its good functioning is importantly a product of an institutional order which does not simply defer to human individuality or to the primordial multitude, but instead, actively shapes them. While it may be worthwhile railing against monarchy and aristocracy and demanding liberal or radical democracy, the prior and more important challenge is to increase the robustness and resilience of the multitude within whatever form of state presents itself, through boring, meticulous, and incremental institutional design. For Spinoza, it is a robust and resilient political order that truly merits being called absolute.
Keywords Spinoza  imperium  radical democracy  absolutism  the state  multitude
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Spinoza’s Liberalism.Matthew J. Kisner - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (11):782-793.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Democracy and the Multitude: Spinoza Against Negri.Sandra Field - 2012 - Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 59 (131):21-40.
The Individuality of the State in Spinoza's Political Philosophy.Andre Santos Campos - 2010 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 92 (1):1-38.
Historicité, multitude et démocratie.Aris Stilianou - 2012 - Astérion. Philosophie, Histoire des Idées, Pensée Politique 10 (10).
Spinoza: Democracy and Revelation.Tomaž Mastnak - 2008 - Filozofski Vestnik 29 (2).
Spinoza on the Political Value of Freedom of Religion.Edward Halper - 2004 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 21 (2):167-182.
Spinoza's Conception of Sovereignty.Raia Prokhovnik - 2001 - History of European Ideas 27 (3):289-306.
Subversive Spinoza: (UN) Contemporary Variations: Antonio Negri.Antonio Negri - 2004 - Distributed Exclusively in the Usa by Palgrave.
Spinoza on Civil Liberation.Justin Steinberg - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (1):pp. 35-58.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-04-14

Total views
187 ( #63,640 of 2,519,499 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #116,789 of 2,519,499 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes