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Desire for Recognition? Butler, Hegel, and Spinoza

Desire for Recognition? Butler, Hegel, and Spinoza

(p.117) 4 Desire for Recognition? Butler, Hegel, and Spinoza
Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization
Hasana Sharp
University of Chicago Press

This chapter restages the contrast between Hegel and Spinoza to clarify the difference between a humanist program of recognition and the politics of renaturalization. Judith Butler is correct to treat Spinoza and Hegel as vibrant alternatives to mainstream liberalism, which remains guided by Hobbesian understandings of desire and methodological individualism. Although Butler’s juxtaposition of Spinoza and Hegel is fruitful for her own theory, her ultimate reduction of politics to a problematic of recognition and representation detracts from the resilience of Spinoza’s conception of conatus. Her emphasis on vulnerability to death overstates the power of the social, to the detriment of natural determination. The politics of renaturalization begins with the denial of human exceptionalism; as such, the idea that we live only insofar as we are recognized as human is anathema to the politics of renaturalization.

Keywords:   recognition, Hegel, Spinoza, renaturalization, Judith Butler, mainstream liberalism, representation

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