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kvond

The Cocoon of Spinoza

Eric in our discussion of Spinoza under the post of Is Spinoza a Cyberneticist, or a Chaocomplexicist? ends with something that made my mind turn a bit…

…I think something that has been confusing about my reading of the Ethics is that I came to it without having ever really thought of eliminating representationalism and binarisms so completely. His thought is so much different from that of Bergson, Hegel, Heidegger, Kant, Levinas, Hobbes etc. who are often used to critique it. Spinoza is so much more interesting than they are.

It seems to me that Spinoza has been cocooned in history in ways we cannot fully appreciate the force of. The accusation and stain of a purported atheism in effect hermetically sealed his philosophy for more than a century from common investigation. Apart from any otherwise atheistic tracks, people suspected the very clean piousness of Spinoza’s vision as importing the most dangerous of things, the subtle atheism of a Jew. Further, what Nietzsche called Spinoza’s armor, the great interwoven more geometico chainmail of propositions, rather than warrior’s defense served as more a historical chrysalis, in their very form locking in something of a revelatory core, the causal result of their reading. If you search for the truth Spinoza is presenting at the level of the proposition, you cannot find it really there. What happened, I suspect, is that once Scientific materialism came into social power, both the chrysalis form of logical truths and the purported atheism fit quite nicely in which the new doctrines of what was true, and to a certain degree Spinoza was reborn…but outside of the purview of his own meanings. The failure of the literalism of stated truths (Analytic philosophy) and a re-enchantment of the Natural (Nature is not a bunch of dead stuff moved around by abstract Laws), has release Spinoza from his resuscitators to a great degree, placing him back within the milieu from which he came, a kind of proto-soup of modernist elements within which we are struggling anew.

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