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

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226555478

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226555508.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 April 2020

Judgment beyond Jurisdiction

Judgment beyond Jurisdiction

(p.11) 1 Judgment beyond Jurisdiction
Becoming Political

Christopher Skeaff

University of Chicago Press

This chapter interprets Spinoza’s “freedom of philosophizing” (libertas philosophandi) as a term that poses the problem of the relationship between politics and judgment. Situating the idea of libertas philosophandi in the polemics of the period, the chapter shows how Spinoza’s treatment of the concept stages a conflict between two paradigmatic ways of envisioning and employing judgment politically. The state’s authority to determine matters of public utility represents a sovereign form of judgment that one might call “jurisdiction,” in contrast to the activity of “jurisprudence,” exemplified by citizens’ right to “philosophize” or judge publicly the utility of state law. With this bifocal vision, it is argued, Spinoza shifts the terms of engagement between politics and judgment away from an exclusive focus on sovereignty—who wields the supreme authority to decide controversies?—and toward an inclusive focus on sovereignty and empowerment—how might a people become free and equal judges of their common affairs? Moreover, and in dialogue with the work of Roberto Esposito, the chapter argues that Spinoza’s treatment of free judgment illustrates and clarifies the political dynamics at stake in the modern conceptualization of freedom as an immunity.

Keywords:   empowerment, Roberto Esposito, freedom, immunity, jurisdiction, jurisprudence, political judgment, sovereignty, Spinoza

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