Spinoza’s Hobbesian Naturalism and Its Promise for a Feminist Theory of Power


Authors
Ericka Tucker
Marquette University
Abstract
This paper examines recent feminist work on Spinoza and identifies the elements of Spinoza’s philosophy that have been seen as promising for feminist naturalism. I argue that the elements of Spinoza’s work that feminist theorists have found so promising are precisely those concepts he derives from Hobbes. I argue that the misunderstanding of Hobbes as architect of the egoist model of human nature has effaced his contribution to Spinoza’s more praised conception of the human individual. Despite misconceptions, I argue that the model of human nature, the view on human emotions and the conception of individual power that Hobbes created and Spinoza developed is an uncommonly useful one for feminist political theory. Through reexamining Hobbes’ model of human nature and the emotions I will argue that Hobbes’ theory of the internal weighing of emotions provides an important mechanism for understanding how the individuals’ affects can be reformed. I will show how we can use this naturalistic model of the human individual to answer contemporary theoretical and practical questions of how to empower women and how to effectively identify, challenge and change social categories, norms and institutions which are disempowering. In particular, I will argue that feminist projects of empowerment need a way to measure empowerment and a way to understand how to understand the power of harmful norms and customs. Understanding the way certain norms and practices disempower women while forming their affects and self‐conceptions provides the first step to reform of these practices. Spinoza and Hobbes provide us with a further tool to reform, and that is their understanding of the role of emotions in human action and power, and the need to reform and reorganize the emotions of individuals in order to escape harmful patterns of behavior.
Keywords Spinoza  Hobbes  Feminism  Power  Philosophy of Mind  History of Psychology  17th Century Natural Philosophy  Feminist Political Theory  Feminist Metaphysics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
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

17th and 18th Century Theories of Emotions.Amy Morgan Schmitter - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2013-08-28

Total views
345 ( #17,650 of 2,285,994 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
34 ( #27,103 of 2,285,994 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature