Reason's Rebellion, or Anarchism Out of the Sources of Spinozism
Rothman, Hayyim. “Reason's Rebellion, or Anarchism Out of the Sources of Spinozism”, Boston College, 2016. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107277.
In my dissertation, I aim (1) to render, from Spinoza’s philosophical system, a critique of the State form or, more broadly, of political coercion and (2) to supply, on the basis of the same, a positive account of the alternative. It is, in essence, my goal to derive anarchism out of the sources of Spinozism. My claim is that, in Spinoza’s work, there obtains a tension between force and freedom as models for political organization. While other interpreters have tended to synthesize these opposing tendencies in one manner or another, I endeavor to highlight their incompatibility and to show that, for Spinoza, they produce two distinct forms of political life. One, the passive foundation of political union, which grounds the State. Two, the active foundation of political union, which grounds the rational community. Having identified this theoretical breach, I proceed to examine the affective structure of each foundation as conceived by Spinoza. I find an inescapable contradiction in the first, which — contrary to the best intentions of the founders of State — tends not only to maintain citizens in a condition of perpetual minority, but progressively erodes their capacity for autonomy, thus inviting a parallel and equally progressive enhancement of coercive intervention. This result implies the moral necessity of revolution, the spinozian contours of which I examine in detail. In the second, which I consider in both affective and ontological terms, I discover the opposite movement. That is, a progressive escalation of reason together with its affective modalities that enhances the human capacity for political and social harmony, rendering political coercion obsolete.