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Title: Enacting knowledge : Spinoza's dynamic of politics
Author: Marston, Stephanie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 9131
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The central claims of my thesis are that Spinoza's philosophy of mind and affect entails that human knowledge is distinctively creative; and that understanding this makes it possible to understand Spinoza's political philosophy as grounded in the interplay between knowing and the effects of knowledge. I develop the arguments underpinning these claims to show that the tensions commonly perceived in Spinoza's political philosophy are a manifestation of its dynamism and creativity. The first part of my thesis proposes that, within Spinoza's metaphysics, individual modes should be understood as distinguished by their effects on other modes, rather than by essence. I proceed from this interpretive premise to an explication of Spinoza's theory of knowledge: situating it within the philosophy of mind adumbrated in Part 2 of the Ethics, I develop a reading of Spinoza's epistemology as a theory of 'affective knowing'. I argue that his account of knowledge formation implies a necessary interdependence among the three kinds of knowledge discussed in E2p40s2, with all knowledge shaped by both the knower's encounters with other modes and her own acting. A significant implication of this interpretation is that in Spinoza's philosophy the political is never static but is constantly created, reinterpreted and re-formed. I show that my interpretation of Spinoza's theory of knowledge may be used as a framework to resolve problems identified in secondary literature on Spinoza's political philosophy, by showing that the tensions within it are productive rather than problematic. I conclude that Spinoza's philosophy generates a situated normativity for politics without recourse to narratives of governmental legitimacy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available