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by Peter Snowdon,Etienne Balibar

Download Spinoza and Politics ePub
  • ISBN 185984801X
  • ISBN13 978-1859848012
  • Language English
  • Author Peter Snowdon,Etienne Balibar
  • Publisher Verso (July 17, 1998)
  • Pages 160
  • Formats doc lrf mobi rtf
  • Category Social Science
  • Subcategory Politics and Government
  • Size ePub 1347 kb
  • Size Fb2 1760 kb
  • Rating: 4.2
  • Votes: 100

With Hobbes and Locke, Spinoza is arguably one of the most important political philosophers of the modern era, a premier theoretician of democracy and mass politics. In this revised and augmented English translation of his 1985 classic, Spinoza et la Politique, Etienne Balibar presents a synoptic account of Spinoza’s major works in relation to the political and historical conjuncture in which they were written. Balibar admirably demonstrates, through fine readings of the principal treatises, Spinoza’s relevance to contemporary political life.In successive chapters Balibar he examines the political situation in the United Provinces during Spinoza’s lifetime, Spinoza’s own religious and ideological associations, the concept of democracy developed in the Theologico-Political Treatise, the theory of the state advanced in the Political Treatise and the anthropological basis for politics established in the Ethics.Written with supreme clarity and engaging liveliness, this book will appeal to specialists and general audiences alike. It is certain to become the standard introductory work on Spinoza, an indispensable guide to the intricacies of this most vital of the seventeenth-century rationalists.

Balibar carefully situates Spinoza's major treatises in the period in which they were written.

Balibar carefully situates Spinoza's major treatises in the period in which they were written. In successive chapters, he examines the political situation in the United Provinces during Spinoza's lifetime, Spinoza's own religious and ideological associations, the concept of democracy developed in the Treatise, the theory of the state advanced in the Political Treatise and the anthropological basis for politics established in the Ethics.

Etienne Balibar Translated by Peter Snowdon VERSO London New YorK First published by Verso 1998 This . For this reason, according to Balibar, it is impossible to separate Spinoza's metaphysics from his politics, as if the latter were an application of the former.

For this reason, according to Balibar, it is impossible to separate Spinoza's metaphysics from his politics, as if the latter were an application of the former.

Spinoza and Politics is a thought provoking book. Balibar sets himself the task of elucidating the intersection, or unity, between Spinoza's metaphysics and his political works. Balibar believes that Spinoza's political works are already a metaphysics (an ontology of powers and their relations) and his metaphysics are already a politics (again, an ontology of powers and their relations). Balibar also believes that a text can only be understood in conjunction with the external, historical forces that brought it about. Balibar begins his book, therefore, by giving a very brief outline.

Etienne Balibar’s Lecture Spinoza’s Three Gods and the Modes of Communication at the Conference of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities Thinking with Spinoza: Politics, Philosophy and Religion, 7 & 8 May 2009 (podcast).

2002: Politics and the Other Scene (London & New York: Verso). Christine Jones, James Swenson & Chris Turner. Etienne Balibar’s Lecture Spinoza’s Three Gods and the Modes of Communication at the Conference of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities Thinking with Spinoza: Politics, Philosophy and Religion, 7 & 8 May 2009 (podcast). For a phenomenology of cruelty;Interview with . alibar. with-balibar/ "Thinking with Balibar" Conference at Columbia University, fall 2014.

Etienne Balibar begins his study of Spinoza's philosophy with the argument that it cannot be understood as if it existed only on the. transhistorical, if not ahistorical, plane of pure theory and that, on. the contrary, each of his major texts must be understood as an intervention in a specific. the contrary, each of his major texts must be understood as an intervention in a specific political and philosophical conjuncture.

By Etienne Balibar and Warren Montag Translated by Peter Snowdon. With Hobbes and Locke, Spinoza is arguably one of the most important political philosophers of the modern era, a premier theoretician of democracy and mass politics. Part of Radical Thinkers. Balibar carefully situates Spinoza’s major treatises in the period in which they were written.

Spinoza and Politics by Etienne Balibar 9781844672059 (Paperback, 2007) Delivery UK delivery is within 3 to 5 working days. Read full description. Spinoza and Politics by Etienne Balibar (Paperback, 2007). Brand new: lowest price.

Warren Montag: Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and His Contemporaries. London and New York: Verso, 1999. Spinoza our Contemporary - BalibarEtienne: Spinoza and Politics, trans. Cite this publication. London and New York: Verso, 1998. MontagWarren: Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and His Contemporaries.

Spinoza and Politics book. In successive chapters Balibar he examines the political situation in the United Provinces during Spinoza’s lifetime, Spinoza’s own religious and ideological associations, the concept of democracy developed in the Treatise, the theory of the state advanced in the Political Treatise and the anthropological basis for politics established in the Ethics.

Warren Montag: Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and His Contemporaries. Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 August 2009.

Talk about Spinoza and Politics


Zetadda
Spinoza and Politics is a thought provoking book. Balibar sets himself the task of elucidating the intersection, or unity, between Spinoza's metaphysics and his political works. Balibar believes that Spinoza's political works are already a metaphysics (an ontology of powers and their relations) and his metaphysics are already a politics (again, an ontology of powers and their relations).

Balibar also believes that a text can only be understood in conjunction with the external, historical forces that brought it about. Balibar begins his book, therefore, by giving a very brief outline of the political debates and power struggles of the Dutch Republic at the time Spinoza was writing. Balibar then goes on to devote a chapter each to three Spinoza works: Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Tractatus Politicus, and the Ethics. Balibar concludes his book with an essay on politics and communication.

The book was certainly thought provoking but I felt it suffered to some degree from a lack of coherence and focus although I am more than willing to admit the possibility that this was due to a fault in the reader rather than the author. There were a number of places in the book where Balibar would introduce what I thought was a genuinely interesting idea, and that I thought was going to become the center of his continued exposition, only to see it abandoned as Balibar quickly moved onto something else. I am still not entirely sure that I have understood the main thesis or point that Balibar is trying to make in this work so I will limit myself to summarizing a few of the thoughts I thought were the most interesting from this work and leave a more detailed, in depth summary to a more informed reader.

I.

Spinoza was highly critical of theology; at least any theology which separated the power of nature and the power of God. The notion of the power of God as a power separate from that of nature is a result of the imagination which is defined as an inadequate knowledge of natural relationships and is the natural result of our desire for salvation and the impossibility of immediate knowledge of real causality (pg. 14-15). If we had perfect knowledge of real causality there would be no inherent tendency within us to posit a power of God, or, to pray to such a power for help in our struggle to affirm our own existence against the forces of nature that tend towards our destruction.

Since the powers of nature as a whole are far more powerful than our own limited powers we feel that we need an ally on our side if we are to survive and continue to affirm our own being, an ally who is separate from the powers of nature and can dominate them. We, therefore, create an imaginary ally for ourselves by imagining God as a power separate from the power of nature. God, for Spinoza, is precisely the power of nature as a whole and cannot, therefore, be our ally in our efforts to affirm our own being against the whole. The imagination provides only an imaginary salvation. We remain at the mercy of nature though we comfort ourselves with the illusion that we possess a powerful ally in God. Real power only comes through an increase in our own understanding of real causality. According to Balibar, "Real causality is that which is immanent to the process through which all things are continuously being transformed" (pg. 15). Salvation does not, therefore, come about through belief in a creed or an imaginary being but through knowledge.

Balibar poses an interesting question in relation to all of this. Balibar first admits, "Every sacred figure of power is an expression of men's inability to see themselves as fully responsible for their own collective salvation." But he then goes on to ask, "might not this `theological need', in its given historical forms, be less the result of a general weakness in human nature than of a specific kind of social order? Might it not stem from the inability of human individuals to organize their relationships with each other in a fully conscious way?" (pg. 15-16). The Marxian overtones should be evident to anyone at all familiar with Balibar's political allegiances. The question is: is theology the necessary product of an inherent human weakness? Or: is it rather the result of human weakness which belongs within a specific social form and which can, therefore, be alleviated? Is religion merely the opiate of the people made necessary by their subjection and impotence within a given social reality? And what would be the conditions for a real liberation (as opposed to merely imaginary) from this condition?

This has relevance for politcs in a couple of ways. First, theology often serves the purposes of domination by instilling illusory fears in the general populace (this was probably the case to a greater extent in Spinoza's own time, where allegiances to various political parties was often based on religious/ideological allegiances, than it is in ours. Though it is perhaps only the outward form that has changed). Theology also causes conflicts which are inherently irresolvable which also tends to enforce the necessity within people's minds for a strong government capable of containing these conflicts . Opposed to this Spinoza would promote an increase of knowledge, freedom of speech and thought being one of the primary conditions which would promote this increase of knowledge, which will provide human beings with more real power over their own destiny. The struggle for knowledge becomes a political praxis and, "Thus political society contains an immanent power through which it can be transformed so as to become the context of a life that is properly `human', a life that is lived with joy" (pg. 98).

II.

Balibar is definitely in the Deleuze inspired tradition of Spinoza interpreters, a group for whom Spinoza is the philosopher of immanence par excellence. Balibar uses Spinoza to provide an "immanent" account of the genesis of the state or society. One of the cornerstones of liberal political theory seems to be a notion of society as a transcendent or formal framework which is able to grant an equal freedom to all citizens due to its purely formal character. Society is supposed to stand above special interests as a kind of universal and indifferent moral arbiter. In liberal theory the state is also conceived as a conventional imposition placed upon the state of nature. Society is also supposed to require of the individual some degree of sacrifice in regard to individual interest in the interests of the `common good'. Spinoza's thought, as interpreted by Balibar, challenges nearly all of these ideas. I will take them in reverse order.

According to Balibar's interpretation of Spinoza, "the principle of natural Reason itself (its `dictates') implies a double necessity for each individual: he must both constantly strive to preserve his own being, and he must seek to constitute, together with other individuals of the same nature as himself, a more powerful individual so as to counterbalance those `external causes which are contrary to his nature'...Both derive from man's essence, which is his desire to persevere in his being. From this Spinoza concludes that those doctrines which seek to oppose individualism and sociability, as immoral and moral respectively, are simply absurd" (pg. 83-84). There is a lot in this passage that I find interesting so I will try to unpack some of it.

First, Spinoza seems to offer the possibility of overcoming the dichotomy between man's inherent individualism and sociability (is man a selfish animal, or a social animal?). Man is driven by his own nature and his own desire to persevere in his own being (individualism) towards sociability. The conflict between individual interest and the common good is at least partly illusory. We could say, I think, that it is based on inadequate knowledge of real causality. This reminds me very much of Deleuze when he writes, "Contrary to the theories of law that put the positive outside of the social (natural rights) and the social in the negative (contractual limitation), the theory of the institution puts the negative outside of the social (needs) in order to present society as essentially positive and inventive (original means of satisfaction)" (quoted in Gilles Deleuze, Michael Hardt, pg. xvii).

Sociability, for Spinoza, is a means of increasing the individuals power which is always in the interest of the individual. Society is not a limitation of an imagined absolute right. For Spinoza right is always coextensive with power. The individual who joins in society has more power and therefore more right than an individual choosing to remain in Hobbes's state of nature. Hobbes's mistake is to view the individual in the state of nature as possessing nearly infinite right because there are no formal limitations on his right. But if right is coextensive with power than the man in the state of nature is in fact deficient and relatively impotent compared to the man in society.

This makes a great deal of difference in terms of political theory because in Hobbes's view the state will always be a limitation on man's inherent absolute rights while for Spinoza society can actually increase an individuals power and hence right (think of the positive effects of the division of labor for instance). For a Hobbesian man can only exit the state of nature by giving up certain freedoms while for Spinoza man can actually increase his real freedoms by entering into society and man is driven by his own nature to do so.

This also means that the state is not a mere conventional form imposed on the natural order but is a result of man's essence and is, therefore, a part of nature. Balibar writes, "if there is a difference between the hypothetical condition of the isolated individual and the process of political construction...this difference does not correspond to an `exit' from the natural world into some other order...The same elements are to be found in both situations. They have simply been redistributed according to the logic of an immanent causality" (pg. 36). The same forces and powers exist in society that existed in nature they have simply been redistributed. In some cases these powers join together and multiply, in other cases they conflict and tend to destroy each other (Spinoza does not deny that there is conflict within society).

Society ultimately becomes a means of balancing actual, concrete powers. Society is no longer viewed as transcendent to the power relations within society (Marx's influence should be evident here as well). In any concrete situation every individual is both independent and dependent to various degrees. An individuals power, and right, depends on the relations of force within the present situation. It would be wrong, however, to view dependence as a purely negative thing.

As Balibar writes, "To be in the power of others, to depend upon their power, can also constitute a positive condition through which one can, up to a point, preserve and affirm one's own individuality. The question then arises as to how one may know on what level a balance can be achieved: to what extent will the rights of the different individuals involved add up, or, even better, multiply, and to what extent will they neutralize each other, or even lead to a cycle of mutual destruction? It is precisely on this basis that we can analyse the interrelationship of the different `rights' in the construction of a judicial system - as a system of power" (pg. 61-62).

The goal of a legal system on this view would not be the guarantee of equal formal rights to everyone when real differentials of power still exist which would limit individuals actual, concrete freedoms. It becomes a matter of devising systems in which the compatibility of rights, and the multiplication of powers, is emphasized, and the conflicting and mutually destructive rights are de-emphasized. The science of politics becomes the science of balancing concrete forces in an effort to create a society which would provide, "the context of a life that is properly `human', a life that is lived with joy" (pg. 98).

III.

In conclusion I would simply say that Balibar's book is definitely worth reading. There are many thought provoking ideas presented in this book and it is written in a clear and accessible style. Despite its outward accessibility I still have the sense that there is a depth that I am at least partially missing. But that makes it an ideal book for re-reading once I have read more of the relevant material. So although I do not know this for sure as of yet I will take a risk here and say that it is a book that is not only worth reading once but is also worth reading a second and perhaps even third time (I know, now I am just being crazy).
Cenneel
Too boring