Spinoza on the Joys of Finitude
This chapter examines Spinoza’s declaration that “humility is not a virtue.” Contrary to the claims of the seventeenth-century anti-Spinoza polemic, this declaration does not rehabilitate pride. Indeed, Spinoza is a fierce critic of pride, as demonstrated by his analysis of the affect opposed to humility, acquiescentia in se ipso. As a critic of humility, Spinoza recasts finitude’s emotional valence, making finitude a source of strength, rather than an occasion for self-reproach. As Spinoza demonstrates, reservations about humility need not express delusions of omnipotence. Spinoza is not persuasively cast as a modernist revolutionary, or as a partisan of robust self-esteem.
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