Tuesday, May 8, 2007

How Hegel misreads Spinoza

Nick Says: May 7th, 2007 at 2:48 pm Joseph, In response to your question about determination, I just recently started reading Simon Duffy’s “The Logic of Expression” where he argues, in the 1st chapter, against determination by negation. While Duffy focuses on Spinoza in this chapter, he uses it to counter precisely what you are talking about - the idea that all determination requires negation - and in doing so opens up the stage for a concept of determination by affirmation. He sets up a reading of Spinoza and Hegel and shows how Hegel misreads Spinoza on the nature of the infinite and determination. It’s a rather dense section, and I’m a little too tired to work through the material myself right now, but I’d highly recommend checking it out if you are interested.
The critique that Duffy borrows from Pierre Macherey though, might help to offer a sample. After making a distinction between the ‘understanding’ which grasps the finite thing as an expression of the actual infinite substance, and the ‘imagination’ which grasps the thing as it exists in opposition to other things, Duffy says “The rational point of view of the understanding is essentially affirmative: such that all negativity is imputed to the point of view of the imagination, which is incapable of comprehending the positive expression of substance itself. Macherey argues that contrary to the Hegelian dialectical logic, to determine a thing positively is to perceive it in its physical, singular, reality, after the immanent necessity which engenders it in substance.” (35) The rest of the book appears to be an explication of the ‘logic of expression’ as opposed to the ‘logic of the dialectic’, but I haven’t yet made it that far. Hope that helps!

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