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Title: The place of art in Spinoza's naturalist philosophy
Author: Thomas, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2017
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The lack of discussion on art in Spinoza's works has led to the belief that a) the principles of his philosophy are actively hostile to art, and b) that his philosophy has nothing to offer regarding art's theorisation. This thesis examines the few places that Spinoza refers to art in order to discern three things: I) what Spinoza's thoughts on art are; II) how his views on art fit into the wider themes of his philosophy; and III) how his general philosophical position as well as his specific ideas on art might contribute to new models of theorising art. In Chapter One I develop Spinoza's relational and naturalistic concept of individuation, therein providing the theoretical ground for the subsequent chapters which, following Spinoza, treat the work of art as a complex body that conforms to the rules of individuation as they are developed across the Ethics. Chapter Two locates Spinoza's views on the creative act from what he notes of architecture, painting, and other 'things of this kind' in IIIP2Schol. Here I argue that Spinoza radically naturalises the creative act, deriving it from the complex causal activity of extended substance itself. To this extent art is given in IIIP2Schol as an expression of the complexity of Nature. Chapter Three turns to Spinoza's brief words on art and culture in IVP45Schol to ascertain his position on artistic experience. Here I argue that according to IVP45Schol art's necessity for the wise man lies in its ability to foster affective complexity. Chapter Four turns to that other peculiarly human artefact, Holy Scripture, to identify how 'nonnatural' objects come to be differentiated from merely 'natural' objects in Spinoza's strong naturalism. Finally I end with an appendix that brings Spinozistic principles to bear on a consideration of a poem by Futurist poet Mina Loy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Arts ; Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.)