Affective Disorders of the State: A Spinozan Diagnosis and Cure

Journal of East-West Thought 3 (2):97-120 (2013)
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The problems of contemporary states are in large part “affective disorders”; they are failures of states to properly understand and coordinate the emotions of the individuals within and in some instances outside the state. By excluding, imprisoning, and marginalizing members of their societies, states create internal enemies who ultimately enervate their own power and the possibility of peace and freedom within the state. Spinoza’s political theory, based on the notion that the best forms of state are those that coordinate the power and emotions of those within a state, offers us both a diagnosis of and a cure for these affective disorders. In this paper I will outline Spinoza’s notion of the power of the state as a function of the power and coordination of the emotions of its citizens, and show that when the state contracts an affective disorder, such as excessive crime, rebellion, terrorism, etc. the state has failed to properly empower, include and coordinate the passions of the multitude of its citizens and subjects.

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Ericka Tucker
Marquette University


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