Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization

Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization

Hasana Sharp

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226750743

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

There have been many Spinozas over the centuries: atheist, romantic pantheist, great thinker of the multitude, advocate of the liberated individual, and rigorous rationalist. The common thread connecting all of these clashing perspectives is Spinoza’s naturalism, the idea that humanity is part of nature, not above it. This interpretation of Spinoza’s iconoclastic philosophy draws on his uncompromising naturalism to rethink human agency, ethics, and political practice. It uses Spinoza to outline a practical wisdom of “renaturalization,” showing how ideas, actions, and institutions are never merely products of human intention or design but outcomes of the complex relationships among natural forces beyond our control. This lack of a metaphysical or moral division between humanity and the rest of nature, the author contends, can provide the basis for an ethical and political practice free from the tendency to view ourselves as either gods or beasts. The book’s argument critically engages with important contemporary thinkers—including deep ecologists, feminists, and race and critical theorists.