Desire is Man’s Very Essence: Spinoza and Hegel as Philosophers of Transindividuality
Chapter from Hegel after Spinoza: Critical Essays, edited by Hasana Sharp and Jason E. Smith.
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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 rrepressible "appetite for living." Hegel is the figure of negation, while Spinoza is the thinker of "pure affirmation". Yet, between Hegel and Spinoza there is not only opposition. This collection of essays seeks to find the suppressed kinship between Hegel and Spinoza. Both philosophers offer vigorous and profound alternatives to the methodological individualism of classical liberalism. Likewise, they sketch portraits of reason that are context-responsive and emotionally contoured, offering an especially rich appreciation of our embodied and historical existence. The authors of this collection carefully lay the groundwork for a complex and delicate alliance between these two great iconoclasts, both within and against the Enlightenment tradition.
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Read, Jason. "Desire is Man’s Very Essence: Spinoza and Hegel as Philosophers of Transindividuality." Between Hegel and Spinoza: a Volume of Critical Essays, edited by Hasana Sharp and Jason E. Smith, Bloomsbury, 2012, pp. 122-34.