Human Power and Ecological Flourishing: Refiguring Right and Advantage with Spinoza

Substance 48 (2):81-101 (2019)
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This paper argues that Baruch Spinoza, a 17th-century philosopher committed to the pure immanence of the natural world and the location of human striving firmly within that natural order, provides unlikely resources for addressing our current ecological crisis. My central claim is that Spinoza's views on power grasp the amoral striving characteristic of all natural beings, while simultaneously offering an immanent basis for normative critique. This, I will argue, is especially potent for the work of addressing ecological harm and fashioning ways of human life consistent with planetary survival. Spinoza's central insight—that the conatus, or characteristic striving to persevere in one's being, actually powers...



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