Becoming PoliticalSpinoza's Vital Republicanism and the Democratic Power of Judgment

Becoming PoliticalSpinoza's Vital Republicanism and the Democratic Power of Judgment

Christopher Skeaff

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226555478

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Becoming Political argues that a profoundly democratic conception of judgment is at the heart of Spinoza’s thought. By recuperating in Spinoza’s writings a “vital republicanism,” the book illuminates a line of political thinking that decouples democracy from the majoritarian aspiration to rule and aligns it instead with the project of becoming free and equal judges of common affairs. On this view, judgment furnishes the communal element by which people generate power to resist domination and reconfigure the terms of their political association. Each chapter of the book offers a different perspective on the political meaning of judgment as the concept operates and evolves in Spinoza’s texts. The resulting interpretations of Spinoza’s vital republicanism analyze judgment in relation to an array of other key concepts, including freedom, affect, community, constitution, law, state, religion, and, above all, democracy. In addition to providing an interpretive key for understanding Spinoza, the book’s organizing idea of “vital republicanism” puts Spinoza’s thought in critical dialogue with various strains of contemporary political theory, from neorepublicanism to Italian biopolitics.