The role of joyful passions in Spinoza’s theory of relations

In Dimitris Vardoulakis (ed.), Spinoza Now. Minnesota University Press (2011)
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The theme of the conflict between the different interpretations of Spinoza’s philosophy in French scholarship, introduced by Christopher Norris in this volume and expanded on by Alain Badiou, is also central to the argument presented in this chapter. Indeed, this chapter will be preoccupied with distinguishing the interpretations of Spinoza by two of the figures introduced by Badiou. The interpretation of Spinoza offered by Gilles Deleuze in Expressionism in Philosophy provides an account of the dynamic changes or transformations of the characteristic relations of a Spinozist finite existing mode, or human being. This account has been criticized more or less explicitly by a number of commentators, including Charles Ramond. Rather than providing a defence of Deleuze on this specific point, which I have done elsewhere, what I propose to do in this chapter is provide an account of the role played by “joyful passive a affections” in these dynamic changes or transformations by distinguishing Deleuze’s account of this role from that offered by one of his more explicit critics on this issue, Pierre Macherey. An appreciation of the role played by “joyful passive affections” in this context is crucial to understanding how Deleuze’s interpretation of Spinoza is implicated in his broader philosophical project of constructing a philosophy of difference. The outcome is a position that, like Badiou in the previous chapter, rules out “intellect in potentiality” but maintains a role for the joyful passive affects in the development of adequate ideas.

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Simon B. Duffy
Monash University


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