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. Category: Philosophy. Add to Cart. Also available from:. Paperback —.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. 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.
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. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published July 17th by Verso first published More Details Original Title.
Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Spinoza and Politics , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Spinoza and Politics. Apr 11, Spoust1 rated it really liked it. I had only read bits of Spinoza's Ethics when I read this book, and the bits I had read did little for me - I ended up putting it down.
But I knew that Spinoza was important for Althusser and Deleuze, both of whom use Spinoza as a sort of alternative to Hegel; I turned to this book to see what the big deal was. I had been suspicious of Spinoza: he is hailed as "one of the great thinkers of democracy," which I took to mean that he was a silly ol' liberal; and as one of the first pantheist thinke I had only read bits of Spinoza's Ethics when I read this book, and the bits I had read did little for me - I ended up putting it down.
I had been suspicious of Spinoza: he is hailed as "one of the great thinkers of democracy," which I took to mean that he was a silly ol' liberal; and as one of the first pantheist thinkers, at least in the Western tradition.
I thought that, as a liberal and as someone who mentions "God" ten times a page in his Ethics, he would not fit within my theoretical paradigm, which is more or less Marxist and therefore has a materialistic i. Balibar argues that all of Spinoza's texts - from the Theologico-Political Treatise to The Ethics - must be read as interventions into political debates from his time.
Spinoza is a liberal, therefore, only inasmuch as liberal democracy seemed the best answer to the religious demagogy and abuse of power by the elites that Spinoza witnessed all around him.
Spinoza's arguments, however, are very interesting: it is almost as if he were applying the ideas of thinkers that succeed him - Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Lacan, Foucault, Habermas - to his particular situation. It is worth taking a look at - a brief, exciting introduction to a classic thinker, and some new approaches to arguments we sadly still encounter today. Also, Balibar quotes extensively from Spinoza's texts, and his choice of passages is always superb.
Some choice quotes: "The fundamental dogma of true religion is Every sacred figure of power is an expression of men's inability to see themselves as fully responsible for their own collective salvation. In this sense, his formula can be glossed as meaning that the individual's right includes all that he is effectively able to do and to think in a given set of conditions.
There is therefore no reason Every idea is always already accompanied by an affect Conversely, every affect is tied to a representation. Oct 31, Gary Bruff rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-anthropology-history-pol-econ , reviews-culture. Like a good pagan or pantheist, Spinoza posited that God is known to us as Nature, and so the laws of God are identical to the laws of Nature. A first principle of the Laws of Nature is that they yield of no exceptions.
Theologically, this means that there are no miracles. The natural world as given to us is perfect; the human world, less so. History, in turn, provides the basis for human laws in all their particularity and complexity. In his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Spinoza gives the example of the Jews of the Exodus who had emancipated themselves from the laws of Egypt but had not yet settled under their new law in the promised land of Israel.
But what is taken by many to be a miracle the story of the burning bush appears to reason to be but a function of historical necessity. For Spinoza, the most complex aspect of Nature is human nature. Hobbes saw human nature as evil and saw societies as needing stiff laws to restrain people from destroying each other. Rousseau saw human nature as good, being the state of natural sociability before our Fall.
Spinoza understood that there are both evil and good aspects to humans. We need both to obey the sovereign as Hobbes advises and also to strive to recapture our lost drives toward social cooperation and solidarity, in line with Rousseau's General Will.
Since in practical life, all this good and evil must be sorted out somehow, people make use of language to communicate. Language allows people to get along effectively, possibly through negotiation and debate, or in accord with the letter of the law. They are not crimes to be punished. This presumably follows from miscomprending words as being ultimately harmless.
However, 20th century work in philosophy and linguistics has shown that the line between speech and action is never easily identified. We can command, inquire, suggest and not just assert what we take to be fact when we use language to communicate with others or to reason alone. For Spinoza, free speech is therefore essential to any healthy political system. Consider how each person is unique, being made up of his or her own experiences and desires.
We cannot form and shape a single world view or ideology that provides sufficient room to maneuver for these different people with diverse perspectives and talents. For Spinoza, free speech and free opinion are basic in the sense that they precede the state. In contributing to the web of sociality, the expression of our free political will publicly circulates information through a wider orbit of ideology and opinion, allowing more people to take advantage of their natural powers of reason to resolve conflicts and to find common ground.
If public discourse is a kind of free-for-all that promotes the common good by making issues publicly debatable and open to collective reasoning, the law is another matter.
Laws, once enacted by the sovereign, must be followed categorically. We might speak out against an unfair or bad law, but we must follow it if the social contract between state and citizens is to be maintained. Since God is nature, and nature follows laws which we might not understand, the laws of man are also binding, even for those who see a law as incongruous and bad.
One way to circumvent a bad law is through revolution. For Spinoza, revolutions, being lawless, are illegitimate On the one hand, the worst case scenario for a revolution would be the overthrow of one social order with no just and popular institutions filling the void. The overthrowing of the sovereign can lead to a worse situation, as took place during the Cromwell regime and during the French Terror.
Rulers become terrified of the masses who are themselves terrified of what they perceive as a tyrannical regime. On the other hand, the best case scenario for a revolution would be the establishment of a reasonable state, one which rules over the hearts of the people.
In a peaceful and reasonable state, as opposed to a violent and arbitrary state, the people feel an inner loyalty to the public order. If the sovereign government should monopolize violence but use it with restraint, then popular loyalty and public order will follow.
Therefore, coming to terms with violence is the true object of politics, since even an unreasonable despotism might provide the benefits of peace, while a revolution, howsoever just it's foundation may be, might lead blindly into chaos and fear. I would need to read Spinoza myself before I can judge whether Balibar is projecting a fully modern sensibility on these late renaissance texts.
There are many ideas here which could generate an interesting conversation for a rebirth of democratic republicanism. It makes you believe that our own noble republic still has a chance to fulfill its promise, provided we strive to speak freely and individually, and do not subsume our voice as part of a violent and lawless mob. The choice ultimately is ours. Mar 28, Arno Noack rated it really liked it. Balibar brings up many interesting questions and arguments about Spinoza's thought contesting a lot of popular interpretations but comes up short in his ability to connect it to a modern materialist analysis which could place it in a context of usefulness in modern political discourse.
Still, this is a great rea a good introduction to Spinoza and an interesting interpretation of his transition of thought between the writing of the TTP and TP, but lacking a strong critical evaluation of his work. Still, this is a great read as a summary of the evolution of Spinoza's politics and the conditions behind that evolution, and well worth reading for anyone interested in Spinoza, but not a stand alone text when considering Spinoza and his legacy for modern political discourse.
All things considered it is a pretty impressive summary of Spinoza considering it is only pages. Gary rated it really liked it Oct 07, Marc rated it liked it Dec 15, Andrew rated it it was amazing Sep 03, Micah rated it really liked it Jan 14, Brooker rated it liked it Jul 15,
The Politics of Spinozism – Composition and Communication (Part 2 of 2)
Spinoza and Politics. 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 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.
Spinoza and Politics
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 classic, Spinoza et la Politique , Etienne Balibar presents a synoptic account of Spinoza's major works, admirably demonstrating relevance to his contemporary political life. 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 Theologico-Political Treatise , the theory of the state advanced in the Political Treatise and the anthropological basis for politics established in the Ethics. Since then he has established himself as one of France's foremost philosophers on the Left. If you forget this fact, you can easily fall into dogmatism and formalism: Leninism can be represented as a finished theory, a closed system — which it has been, for too long, by Communist parties. But if on the other hand you remain content with a superficial view of these contradictions and of their historical causes, if you remain content with the simplistic and false idea according to which you have to "choose" between the standpoint of theory and that of history, real life and practice, if you interpret Lenin's arguments simply as a reflection of ever changing circumstances, less applicable the further away they are in history, then the real causes of these historical contradictions become unintelligible, and our own relation to them becomes invisible.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.