Oppositional Ideas, Not Dichotomous Thinking: Reply to Rorty

Political Theory 38 (1):142-147 (2010)
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Abstract
Rorty finds that my own appropriation of Spinoza toward a re-conception of ideology critique falls short, however, by (a) failing to “take Spinoza’s mind-body identity seriously” and by (b) advocating a “battle of ideas” rather than an enlargement of perspective. She presents an illuminating analysis of how, according to Spinoza, dichotomies serve as blunt provisional tools that become counterproductive once understanding is reached. She suggests that I preserve certain distinctions to the detriment of my own liberation project, such as the distinction between the truth of an idea and its persuasive force. As part of criticism (a), she admonishes me for neglecting the importance of material conditions, and with criticism (b) she suggests that the imagery of battle misconstrues the project of becoming rational and the power of truth. Below I will try to show that we do not disagree about either the importance of material conditions for a project of political transformation or the identity of mind and body in substance. We do disagree, however, about the character of ideology critique. I will offer an example, in an attempt to demonstrate why it is neither a distortion of Spinoza nor strategically counterproductive to understand the project of thinking as an effort of what I call “resistant reconstruction” within the attribute of thought.
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