Negri, Spinoza

J Laari jlaari at
Fri Feb 16 15:09:16 MST 1996


thanks for clarifications. Few remarks:

You wrote:

"Yes, it is true that there is a difference between duality and dualism.
But there is also a difference between dialectical approaches and MONISM."

That is very true. And yet I don't think it's totally wrong to think
for example of Spinoza both monist and dialectician. Depends on both our
conception of dialectics and whether we are speaking of ontology or
epistemology or both? Or am I missing something?

"I think that often, debates about what constitutes the ultimate "stuff"
of the universe are unnecessarily cosmological. Quite honestly, science
simply doesn't know yet, what the ultimate "stuff" is, and for that
reason, it is a scientific question primarily, rather than a
methodological one."

I didn't understood that, so I had to look what I've written earlier...
Obviously I wasn't after 'the basic stuff' of reality? Nor do I believe
that was Spinoza's concern.

In the case of Spinoza there seems to be quite clear cultural
differences in respect to Sp.-interpretation in 20th century: in English
speaking world dominated by logical empiricism and analytical phil.
interest in Sp. has changed from earlier more or less idealist
interpretations (for example H.A. Wolfson's impressive but at some
places out-dated "Spinoza. Unfolding the latent processes of his
reasoning," 1934?) to issues more related to questions of natural
sciences. In continental Europe things have been slightly different.

Perhaps because of that sort of reasons in English speaking world Spinoza
as The Rationalist has been seen as worst of those who tried to think
world out of his head, as creator of terrible a prioristic system trying
to figure out basic stuff and structure of reality? On the other hand,
in Central Europe influence of Kant's and Hegel's idealism have been
obviously quite strong.

However, now - after the non-metaphysical and categorial interpretations
of Hegel - it's time, I think, to expand that view to 17th century
'rationalists' and look at Spinoza a bit differently. French and Italian
Spinoza-renaissance might be the right catapult. I think it's more
reasonable to read Sp's metaphysics as same kind of categorial system as
Hegelians have 'found' in Hegel: it's a long way from ontological basic
categories (as basic structures and principles of thinking) to concepts
with empirical concent, and it's good to keep these 'levels' distinct.

Spinoza was quite clear that he wasn't referring directly to empirical
reality. Few times he noticed that 'even child knows this-and-that [for
example, that dog barks] but it's not the point' (something like that),
if I don't remember awfully wrong. I mean, he didn't neglected empirical
reality but was more interested in categories we use when thinking of it.

But I better stop this thread short or Justin gets angry that I'm
'sociologizing pure philosophy'...

"This is true... it is not an opposition.  But thought of in dialectical
terms, it is an organic unity, an internal relationship. Simply put, the
ideal-material opposition is a by-product of the Cartesian (and earlier,
the Platonic) opposition of mind and body. Such a dualism is not within
the realm of possibility for those in the dialectical (and earlier,
Aristotelian) traditions -- who argue that there is an inseparability
between the mind and corporeality. And just as the mind itself functions
through the senses, so too, the body is deeply influenced by the mind.
There is an internality here, such that one cannot be fully understood
apart from the other."

Yes. In a sense, I agree. And yet I find that a bit odd. I mean that
when we take 'mind' into discussion we are moving into epistemology? But
what about ontology? Is it still mind/body problem? For example,
Ilyenkov wrote, I think [gee, i should have that photocopy at hand now],
slightly from different point of view. In a sense: mind/body isn't the
basic duality. Rather it's one historical expression to developing
'duality' of material/ideal. Ideality is in a sense prior to mind -
logically, or should I say categorially.

And finally, what about that: Both Hegel and Marx were dialecticians, but
one was idealist, other materialist.

Yours, Jukka L

PS. Sorry that clumsy end, but it's midnight now and I had to be at home
few hours ago.

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