Spinoza's relational ontology and ethics of desire

Juliana Mercon (2011). Spinoza's relational ontology and ethics of desire PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Juliana Mercon
Thesis Title Spinoza's relational ontology and ethics of desire
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-12
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Aurelia Armstrong
Total pages 183
Total black and white pages 183
Language eng
Subjects 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies
Abstract/Summary The interpretation of the individual as atomic or self-contained constitutes a dominant trend in Spinoza scholarship. One of the implications of that trend is the focus on reason as the primary expression of individual power and as the key to ethical progress. In this thesis I argue, against this reading, that Spinoza’s philosophy is illuminated by a perspective that focuses on relationality as the locus of individuation. Following that line of inquiry, I demonstrate how imaginary and rational transindividual systems of knowledge engender different forms of individuality and sociability, and how the transition from passion to action can be described as a process in which corporeal and intellectual interactions play a decisive role. With a special focus on desire as a relational process, I also argue that desire (and not reason) is at the heart of Spinoza’s ethics. The ethical experience is thus fulfilled when a virtuous circle is created between the understanding of desire, the desire to understand, and the desire to share our understanding with others. An exploration of the concept of ambition as a form of desire allows me to suggest different connections between individuality and collectivity. In an active sense, the ontological interdependence between self and others corresponds to the reciprocal relationship between ethics and politics. I argue that it is through that mutual connection between the exercise of virtue and the active generation of empowering political conditions that relationality reaches its liveliest expression. In conclusion, an examination of Spinoza’s concept of intellectual love of God or Nature leads me to suggest that the association between active self-love, love of others, and love of Nature corresponds to the necessary link between one’s ethical life and the desire to form an empowering community.
Keyword Spinoza

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Created: Tue, 06 Mar 2012, 09:53:22 EST by Juliana Mercon on behalf of Library - Information Access Service