•  83
    Not all Humans, Radical Criticism of the Anthropocene Narrative
    Environmental Philosophy 17 (1). 2020.
    Earth scientists have declared that we are living in “the Anthropocene,” but radical critics object to the implicit attribution of responsibility for climate disruption to all of humanity. They are right to object. Yet, in effort to implicate their preferred villains, their revised narratives often paint an overly narrow picture. Sharing the impulse of radical critics to tell a more precise and political story about how we arrived where we are today, this paper wagers that collective action is m…Read more
  • Generosity is not best understood as an alliance of forces, necessary for mortal beings with limited time and skills. Sociability as generosity exceeds the realm of need and follows directly from our strength of character [fortitudo] because it expresses a positive power to overcome anti-social passions, such as hatred, envy, and the desire for revenge. Spinoza asserts that generous souls resist and overwhelm hostile forces and debilitating affects with wisdom, foresight, and love. The sociabili…Read more
  • This paper develops the implications of Spinoza’s invocation in chapter 6 of the traditional analogy between the oikos and the polis. Careful attention to this analogy reveals a number of interesting features of Spinoza’s political theory. Spinoza challenges the perception that absolute monarchy offers greater respite from the intolerable anxiety of the state of nature than does democracy. He acknowledges that people associate monarchical rule with peace and stability, but asserts that it can to…Read more
  •  53
    Spinoza and the possibilities for radical climate ethics
    Dialogues in Human Geography 7 (2): 156-60. 2017.
    In this commentary, I respond to the core question of Ruddick’s paper: How does the theoretical dethroning of humanity force us to reinvent ethics? In so doing, I expand on Spinoza’s profound contribution to the radical rethinking of the subject at the level of ontology. Although Ruddick invokes Spinoza, first and foremost, as a potential resource for ethics in light of climate disruption, I conclude that those resources offer only a glimmer of how to live differently. The work of re-imagination…Read more
  •  3
    Feminism and Heterodoxy
    Philosophy Today 63 (3): 795-803. 2019.
    How could a philosopher who insists on the exclusion of women from citizenship and state office by virtue of their insuperable weakness be an inspiration for feminism? The puzzles over Spinoza’s egalitarian credentials pose a problem particularly if one understands feminism primarily or exclusively as a demand for equality with men. When feminism is seen as a subcategory of Enlightenment commitments, one may choose to see Spinoza’s misogyny as superficial and as a betrayal of the radical potenti…Read more
  •  11
    Spinoza’s Commonwealth and the Anthropomorphic Illusion
    Philosophy Today 61 (4): 833-846. 2017.
    Balibar presents Spinoza as a profound critic of “the anthropomorphic illusion.” Spinoza famously derides the tendency of humans to project their own imagined traits and tendencies onto the rest of nature. The anthropomorphic illusion yields a gross overestimation our own agency. I argue in this essay that the flip side of this illusion is our refusal to extend certain properties we reserve exclusively to ourselves. The result is that we disregard the power of social and political institutions b…Read more
  •  22
    Balibar presents Spinoza as a profound critic of " the anthropomorphic illusion. " Spinoza famously derides the tendency of humans to project their own imagined traits and tendencies onto the rest of nature. The anthropomorphic illusion yields a gross overestimation our own agency. I argue in this essay that the flip side of this illusion is our refusal to extend certain properties we reserve exclusively to ourselves. The result is that we disregard the power of social and political institutions…Read more
  •  88
    Spinoza's Political Treatise: A Critical Guide (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    Spinoza's Political Treatise constitutes the very last stage in the development of his thought, as he left the manuscript incomplete at the time of his death in 1677. On several crucial issues - for example, the new conception of the 'free multitude' - the work goes well beyond his Theological Political Treatise, and arguably presents ideas that were not fully developed even in his Ethics. This volume of newly commissioned essays on the Political Treatise is the first collection in English to be…Read more
  • Feminist Philosophies of Life
    with Chloë Taylor
    Mcgill-Queen's University Press. 2016.
    Much of the history of Western ethical thought has revolved around debates about what constitutes a good life, and claims that a good life is achievable only by certain human beings. In Feminist Philosophies of Life, feminist, new materialist, posthumanist, and ecofeminist philosophers challenge this tendency, approaching the question of life from alternative perspectives. Signalling the importance of distinctively feminist reflections on matters of shared concern, Feminist Philosophies of Life …Read more
  •  34
    Animal Affects: Spinoza and the Frontiers of the Human
    Journal for Critical Animal Studies 9 (1-2): 48-68. 2011.
    Like any broad narrative about the history of ideas, this one involves a number of simplifications. My hope is that by taking a closer look Spinoza's notorious remarks on animals, we can understand better why it becomes especially urgent in this period as well as our own for philosophers to emphasize a distinction between human and nonhuman animals. In diagnosing the concerns that give rise to the desire to dismiss the independent purposes of animals, we may come to focus on a new aspect of wha…Read more
  •  130
    Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise: A Critical Guide
    The Leibniz Review 21 175-183. 2011.
    Despite his importance in philosophical canon, as the editors of the volume under consideration observe, contemporary philosophers without a religious education are not in a great position to examine, for example, Spinoza's analysis of scripture, which comprises a substantial portion of his Theological-Political Treatise. Nevertheless,interest in Spinoza is growing and there is increased willingness to work through questions like "whether the apostles wrote their epistles as apostles and prophet…Read more
  •  50
    “Nemo non videt”: Intuitive Knowledge and the Question of Spinoza's Elitism
    In Smith Justin & Fraenkel Carlos (eds.), The Rationalists, Springer/synthese. pp. 101--122. 2011.
    Although Spinoza’s words about intuition, also called “the third kind of knowledge,” remain among the most difficult to grasp, I argue that he succeeds in providing an account of its distinctive character. Moreover, the special place that intuition holds in Spinoza’s philosophy is grounded not in its epistemological distinctiveness, but in its ethical promise. I will not go as far as one commentator to claim that the epistemological distinction is negligible (Malinowski-Charles 2003),but I do arg…Read more
  •  129
    Editors’ Introduction
    with Chloë Taylor
    Symposium 11 (2): 229-230. 2007.
    In her beautiful prose poem, Eros the bittersweet, Ann Carson describes the "trajectory of eros" as one that "moves from the lover toward the beloved, then ricochets back to the lover himself and the hole in him unnoticed before. Who is the real subject of love poems? Not the beloved. It is that hole." Carson continues, "Reaching for an object beyond himself, the lover is provoked to notice that self and its limits. For a new vantage point, which we might call self-consciousness, he looks back a…Read more
  •  59
    Violenta imperia nemo continuit diu: Spinoza and the Revolutionary Laws of Human Nature
    Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 34 (1): 133-148. 2013.
    In what follows, I will substantiate the argument that there are at least two senses in which Spinoza’s principles support revolutionary change. I will begin with a quick survey of his concerns with the problem of insurrection. I will proceed to show that if political programs can be called revolutionary, insofar as freedom is their motivation and justification, and insofar as freedom implies an expansion of the scope of the general interest to the whole political body, Spinoza ought to be calle…Read more
  •  11
    Louis Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism (review)
    Journal of Speculative Philosophy 20 (4): 328-330. 2006.
    Lewis's history of the party produces a conceptual thread that helps one to understand Althusser's philosophy as an intervention into long-standing debates about the nature of knowledge with respect to social relations. His presentation of this history comprises a highly readable and lucid account that aptly summarizes and condenses an intellectual tradition, especially with respect to what might broadly be called its politico-epistemological inquiries. Most generally, he identifies a thread of …Read more
  •  16
    Between Hegel and Spinoza: A Volume of Critical Essays (edited book)
    with Jason E. Smith
    Bloomsbury Studies in Philosophy. 2012.
    Recent work in political philosophy and the history of ideas presents Spinoza and Hegel as the most powerful living alternatives to mainstream Enlightenment thought. Yet, for many philosophers and political theorists today, one must choose between Hegel or Spinoza. As Deleuze's influential interpretation maintains, Hegel exemplifies and promotes the modern "cults of death," while Spinoza embodies an irrepressible "appetite for living." Hegel is the figure of negation, while Spinoza is the thinke…Read more
  •  8
    Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise: A Critical Guide (review)
    The Leibniz Review 21 175-183. 2011.
  •  20
    Oppositional Ideas, Not Dichotomous Thinking: Reply to Rorty
    Political Theory 38 (1): 142-147. 2010.
    Rorty finds that my own appropriation of Spinoza toward a reconception of ideology critique falls short, however, by (a) failing to “take Spinoza’s mind-body identity seriously” and by (b) advocating a “battle of ideas” rather than an enlargement of perspective. She presents an illuminating analysis of how, according to Spinoza, dichotomies serve as blunt provisional tools that become counterproductive once understanding is reached. She suggests that I preserve certain distinctions to the detrim…Read more
  •  25
    Eve's Perfection: Spinoza on Sexual (In)Equality
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (4): 559-580. 2012.
    Through an examination of his remarks on Genesis, chapters 2–3, I will demonstrate that Spinoza’s argument for sexual inequality is not only an aberration,but a symmetrical inversion of a view he propounds, albeit implicitly, in his Ethics. In particular, “the black page” of his Political Treatise ignores, along with the intellectual capacities of women, the immeasurable benefits of affectionate partnership between a man and a woman that he extols in his retelling of the Genesis narrative. If th…Read more
  •  15
    Why Spinoza Today? Or, ‘A Strategy of Anti-Fear’
    Rethinking Marxism 17 (4): 591-608. 2005.
    This essay contends that Spinoza provides a valuable analysis of the ‘‘affective’’damage to a social body caused by fear, anxiety, and ‘‘superstition.’’ Far from being primarily an external threat, this essay argues that terrorism and the promulgationof fear by the current administration in the United States pose a threat to internalsocial cohesion. The capacity to respond in constructive and ameliorative ways tocurrent global conflicts is radically undermined by amplifying corrosive relationshi…Read more
  •  85
    Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization
    University of Chicago Press. 2011.
    Reconfiguring the human -- Lines, planes, and bodies: redefining human action -- Action as affect -- The transindividuality of affect -- The tongue -- Renaturalizing ideology: Spinoza's ecosystem of ideas -- The matrix -- Ideology critique today? -- The fly in the coach -- "I am in ideology," or the attribute of thought -- What is to be done? -- Man's utility to man: reason and its place in nature -- The politics of human nature -- Reason and the human essence -- Man's utility to man -- Nonhuman…Read more
  •  23
    Love and Possession: Towards a Political Economy of Ethics 5
    North American Spinoza Society Monograph 14 1-19. 2009.
    Against the common understanding that the Ethics promotes a "radical anti-emotion program," I claim that Spinoza describes an immanent transformation of love from a form of madness to an expression of wisdom. Love as madness produces the affects that another tradition unites in the seven deadly sins, such as lust, gluttony, envy, greed, and pride. Spinoza, however, never condemns these affects as such. Within each affect one can find its "correct use" (E5p10schol), which enables us to love and t…Read more
  •  12
    Beth Lord , Spinoza's Ethics . Reviewed by
    Philosophy in Review 31 (4): 290-291. 2011.
    The guidebook is meant to be read alongside the Ethics. It thus follows the order of Spinoza’s text and discusses sets of propositions as the development of various strands of argument. It instructs readers to pause and, for example, read Propositions 1-5 of Part 1 together, before moving on to a different component of his argument for the simplicity of substance. Lord dedicates more elaborate discussion to crucial but problematic propositions, like Proposition 11 of Part 1, Proposition 7 of Par…Read more
  •  58
    The Force of Ideas in Spinoza
    Political Theory 35 (6): 732-755. 2007.
    This paper offers an interpretation of Spinoza's theory of ideas as a theory of power. The consideration of ideas in terms of force and vitality figures ideology critique as a struggle within the power of thought to give life support to some ideas, while starving others. Because ideas, considered absolutely on Spinoza's terms, are indifferent to human flourishing, they survive, thrive, or atrophy on the basis of their relationship to ambient ideas. Thus, the effort to think and live well require…Read more
  •  63
    With five rich commentaries, it will be impossible for me to address all of the questions raised. So, I have selected out some questions that spoke immediately to me, and some questions that express concerns common to multiple commentators.
  •  42
    Feeling Justice: The Reorientation of Possessive Desire in Spinoza
    International Studies in Philosophy 37 (2): 113-130. 2005.
    In asserting that the desire to possess what we cannot exclusively and permanently have lies at the root of human misery, Spinoza's Ethics discloses a problem that requires a political response. Although the final part of the Ethics appears to be the least practical of Spinoza's writings, it nonetheless foregrounds the tangible problem of our desire for possession, our desire to have what gives us joy. Moreover, it proposes a remedial practice by means of which this problematic desire might gene…Read more
  •  49
    Michael Mack, Spinoza and the Specters of Modernity: The Hidden Enlightenment of Diversity From Spinoza to Freud (review)
    Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy/Revue canadienne de philosophie continentale 15 (2): 231-233. 2011.
    Michael Mack joins a number of thinkers - including Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri, and Jonathan Israel - in the effort to locate Spinoza within an alternative current of modernity. Akin especially to Israel's portrait, Mack presents Spinoza as an enlightenment thinker who deepens and radicalises the major concepts associated with the modern age: equality, fraternity, and liberty. Distinguishing Mack's study from either Israel's sweeping history of ideas or the Marxist effort to …Read more