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Title: Freedom, power and collective desire in Spinoza
Author: Taylor, Daniel
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis attempts to identify a consistent argument for freedom across Spinoza's ethical and political works, premised on the reasonable empowerment of individuals, collectively. Such a freedom is inclusive, relative and common, a 'becoming freer'. Agency is identified through desire, neither morally normative nor intrinsically liberating, but the individual's means for becoming as self-determining as she/he can. It accounts for individuation in Spinoza's thought in terms of empowerment, and proposes a new conceptual model of collective individuation through commonality, collectivity, unanimity and interdependence – the imaginative, affective and conative structures within which individuals join together and multiply their powers. It brings together a diverse set of hermeneutic traditions to this problem of freedom, including continental readings of Spinoza's ontology (Deleuze, Matheron, Negri) and politics (Balibar, Montag, Lordon), with Anglophone, analytical studies of Spinoza's epistemology (Bennett, Curley, Della Rocca, Garrett, Melamed), alongside studies sensitive to the role of the imagination and affects (Gatens, James, Kisner, Rosenthal, LeBuffe, and Saar). Its overarching claim is that freedom in Spinoza is a necessarily political endeavour, realised by individuals acting cooperatively, requiring the development of socio-political institutions that can administer the common good, in accordance with reason. Chapter 1 analyses the problem of servitude in Spinoza – the conditions preventing individuals from becoming free. Chapter 2 distinguishes conatus from desire, and outlines an ethics of the latter through a model of human power as capability, leading to an intrinsically social, collectivising political project. Chapter 3 presents the unanimity hypothesis, and assesses the roles of imagination, prophecy and religion for producing liberating, i.e. reasonable, collective imaginaries. Chapter 4 gives a new reading of Spinoza's TP in terms of the intrinsic rationale of the state. Chapter 5 debates the conceptual difficulties of political change via indignation and emulation, before outlining a new theory of collective desire.
Supervisor: MacDonald, Neil ; Power, Nina ; Bunker, Jennifer Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Spinoza ; politics ; philosophy ; collectivity ; power ; freedom ; servitude ; democracy