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Download The New Spinoza (Theory Out Of Bounds) epub

by Warren Montag,Ted Stolze

To see the presence of Spinoza, Louis Althusser once quipped, "one must at least have heard of him". The essays collected in this volume suggest that what applies to Althusser applies to his whole generation -- that Spinoza is an unsuspected but very real presence in the work of contemporary philosophers from Deleuze and Lacan to Foucault and Derrida.

These essays, most of them appearing in English for the first time, establish Spinoza's rightful role in the development and direction of contemporary continental philosophy. The volume should interest not only the growing group of scholars attracted to Spinoza's thought on ethics, politics, and subjectivity, but also theorists in a variety of fields who have not yet understood how their work can productively engage Spinoza.

Download The New Spinoza (Theory Out Of Bounds) epub
ISBN: 0816625417
ISBN13: 978-0816625413
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Warren Montag,Ted Stolze
Language: English
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; First edition edition (February 1, 2008)
Pages: 280 pages
ePUB size: 1303 kb
FB2 size: 1903 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 121
Other Formats: lit docx doc azw

I am a Graduate student in philosophy and have had serious interest in the philosophy of Spinoza for many years. This book contains some of the very best articles I've read on Spinoza (e.g., Pierre Macherey's article on the problem of the Attributes is one of the very best articles I've read on the issue).

I would recommend this book as fundamental reading to any person who desires a serious grasp of the universe that is Spinoza's thoughts and ideas.
To start with I should say that usually, almost invariably, I am disappointed by collections. This was not the case here. In any book on Spinoza one is usually in danger of encountering either the mystical Spinoza (that God-intoxicated man) or the philosopher that fills in the Triptych of Continental Rationalism (with Descartes and Leibniz) that one finds in those horrid `History of Philosophy' textbooks. Not here.

This is the materialist and `political' Spinoza; and among the interpreters are Louis Althusser, Etienne Balibar, Gilles Deleuze and Antonio Negri. All men - with Deleuze one can perhaps make some small equivocation/qualification - of the left. But was Spinoza himself a man of the Left? The essays of Pierre-Francois Moreau, Gabriel Albiac, and Andre Tosel, who, I think, are fairly unknown in the English-speaking world, seem to leave us some room for doubt. (Due to the limitations of (Amazon's) space and (my) time I will give only partial reviews of each of these last three authors.)

The essay by Moreau - Fortune and the Theory of History - begins where the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus begins "If human beings could govern all their affairs according to a fixed plan, or if fortune were always favorable to them, they would be bound by no superstition." We begin in the variable, but repetitive and real (effective) world of Machiavelli. The enemy is superstition; but is this enemy external to Man or our permanent companion? If it were a permanent companion, or fact, of human history, then the philosophers would be forced to write rhetorically, or esoterically, given the inherent limitations of non-philosophers. But are all non-philosophers limited? Moreau cites Spinoza's discussion of Alexander, his reversion to superstition in the face of battlefield reversals, and allows us to draw our own conclusions. And lest we forget, Machiavelli himself, in his Prince, has some mockery reserved for Alexander the Great. ...But do these philosophers write esoterically and/or rhetorically due to the permanence of superstition? I think yes but Moreau draws a different conclusion. Moreau doesn't believe the effects of fortune are immutable. "But what will happen if, through a succession of circumstances initially due to chance, an entire society comes to enjoy security?" ...Would a Spinoza or Machiavelli believe in this miracle?

The much longer essay by Albiac - The Empty Synagogue - begins with a very intelligent discussion of Schelling's `Philosophical Inquiries into the Nature of Human Freedom' and the discussion therein of Spinoza by Schelling. This pairing is especially interesting because it puts the esoteric Spinoza in the ring with the dialectical Schelling. The esoteric versus the dialectical; this is the great onto/methodological controversy of modern philosophy. ...And so little written on it! But Albiac is here more concerned with opposition of transcendental materialism/idealism. For Schelling freedom is an ontological category, not a matter of will or anthropology. ...So, exactly how does this differ from Spinoza? Albiac reminds us that Schelling says Spinozism, "is not fatalism because it lets things be conceived in God; for ...pantheism does not make formal freedom, at least, impossible. ...The error ...[is] due to the fact that that they are things." (By this Schelling means they are not conceived of as moving Spirit.) But Schelling is forced to make the irrational the ground of God Himself! Pointing at the silence of Schelling after this remarkable essay on Freedom Albiac says that the price Schelling pays for this maneuver is silence. Now, this is merely the beginning of the essay and Albiac goes on to make several intelligent points for Spinoza; see especially the discussion of Spinoza's conception of Power. Highly recommended!

The slightly shorter essay by Tosel - Superstition and Reading - is also highly recommended. This is an essay on esotericism! As such Tosel quotes, with approval, the groundbreaking study of Spinoza by Leo Strauss. (Strauss also receives a backhanded compliment from Negri in the notes of his essay.) Tosel - and this is quite hilarious, given the numerological fantasies (the most important thing is written in the middle of the piece) of some esoteric readers `influenced' by Strauss - at almost the exact center of the essay writes "Can or must the indications given in the TTP [Tractatus Theologico-Politicus] on the method of interpretation of Scripture be applied to the TTP itself? Leo Strauss also new how to pose the decisive question." Well, when you stop laughing you realize that what Tosel is (perhaps) indicating is that there can be no `un-superstitious' (or simply intelligible) texts in a superstitious world. "Everywhere that the mastery of circumstances of life is difficult, the unintelligible is reproduced." Tosel (naturally) ends his essay, in good dialectical/progressive fashion, "One must thus make possible for the future the reading of the TTP as a partially intelligible text that contains within it the means to reduce this unintelligibility, since it states what rules of reading should be followed for unintelligible texts."

After reading these essays and the others one should tackle the books by both Deleuze and Strauss on Spinoza. Also included in this collection, btw, are essays by Luce Irigaray, Emilia Giancotti, Pierre Macherey, and Alexander Matheron.
This is an excellent collection of essays, particularly for introducing existentialist and radically democratic readings of Spinoza. Of course, it won't make much of any sense if you aren't familiar with Spinoza, but you don't have to be an expert either - if you are getting you feet wet with either Spinoza's Ethics or political writings, this is a great set of essays to read alongside.... This book is particularly to be recommended for those interested in contental political philosphy. This book provides a key to the continental interpretation of Spinoza which has flourished since the late 1960s, which is indispensable for understanding the writings of Gils Deleuze and Antonio Negri... Anyone who has ever waded through "A Thousand Plateaus" or "Empire" fascinated but wondering where it was all coming from would find it well worth their while to sit down with some Spinoza and set of essays like this...

(Those not as interested in contintental thought per se may still be interested in the last three essays which focus on Spinoza's political writings because they demonstrate quite methodically what an alternative Spinoza provides Hobbesian understandings of sovereignty.)