Affect, Desire, and Judgement in Spinoza's Account of Motivation

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (1):67-87 (2016)
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Two priority problems frustrate our understanding of Spinoza on desire [cupiditas]. The first problem concerns the relationship between desire and the other two primary affects, joy [laetitia] and sadness [tristitia]. Desire seems to be the oddball of this troika, not only because, contrary to the very definition of an affect, desires do not themselves consist in changes in one's power of acting, but also because desire seems at once more and less basic than joy and sadness. The second problem concerns the priority of desires and evaluative judgements. While 3p9s and 3p39s suggest that evaluative judgements are posterior to desires, Andrew Youpa has recently argued that passages in Ethics 4 indicate that rational evaluative judgements can give rise to, rather than arise out of, desires. I aim to offer solutions to these problems that reveal the elegance and coherence of Spinoza's account of motivation. Ultimately, I argue that whereas emotions and d..

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Justin Steinberg
Brooklyn College (CUNY)


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