Imitation, Representation, and Humanity in Spinoza’s Ethics

Journal of the History of Philosophy 51 (3):383-407 (2013)
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Abstract

In IVP50S, Spinoza claims that “one who is moved to aid others neither by reason nor by pity is rightly called inhuman. For (by IIIP27) he seems to be unlike a man” (IVP50S). At first blush, the claim seems implausible, as it relies on the dubious assumption that beings will necessarily imitate the affects of conspecifics. In the first two sections of this paper, I explain why Spinoza accepts this thesis and show how this claim can be made compatible with his account of representation. In the third and final section I offer an auxiliary defense of the thesis, showing that, according to Spinoza, to be human is to sociable, and sociability depends on the imitation of the affects.

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Justin Steinberg
Brooklyn College (CUNY)

Citations of this work

Two Puzzles Concerning Spinoza's Conception of Belief.Justin Steinberg - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):261-282.
Affect, Desire, and Judgement in Spinoza's Account of Motivation.Justin Steinberg - 2016 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (1):67-87.
Descartes on Will and Suspension of Judgment: Affectivity of the Reasons for Doubt.Jan Forsman - 2017 - In Gábor Boros, Judit Szalai & Oliver Istvan Toth (eds.), The Concept of Affectivity in Early Modern Philosophy. Budapest, Hungary: pp. 38-58.
A Spinozist Aesthetics of Affect and Its Political Implications.Christopher Davidson - 2017 - In Gábor Boros, Judit Szalai & Oliver Istvan Toth (eds.), The Concept of Affectivity in Early Modern Philosophy. Budapest, Hungary: Eötvös Loránd University Press. pp. 185-206.

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Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 2004 - In Tim Crane & Katalin Farkas (eds.), Metaphysics: a guide and anthology. Oxford University Press UK.
Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases.Stephanie D. Preston & Frans B. M. de Waal - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (1):1-20.

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