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Lines, Planes, and Bodies: Redefining Human Action

Lines, Planes, and Bodies: Redefining Human Action

(p.21) 1 Lines, Planes, and Bodies: Redefining Human Action
Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization
Hasana Sharp
University of Chicago Press

This chapter outlines Spinoza’s understanding of action as affect and its place in his system. It discusses how the perspective of affect displaces methodological individualism. To think in terms of affect is necessarily to think in terms of “transindividuality,” such that forms of individuality are necessarily incomplete and variable in response to other beings. Later sections also examine one major consequence of Spinoza’s revision of human action. It is ascertained here what becomes of verbal expression and mental decision in Spinoza’s thought when action becomes affect. For Aristotle and his followers, including Hobbes, what makes us human is a power to deliberate and use language. Spinoza, on the contrary, treats both decision and speech as completely natural phenomena which do not make humans exceptional.

Keywords:   affect, methodological individualism, transindividuality, verbal expression, mental decision

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