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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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Judgment in Common

Judgment in Common

(p.35) 2 Judgment in Common
Becoming Political

Christopher Skeaff

University of Chicago Press

This chapter elaborates on the idea that judgment for Spinoza remains inalienably common. Departing from a brief discussion of influential theorizations of “the commons” (Ostrom) and “the common” (Hardt and Negri), the chapter demonstrates how Spinoza understands judgment as belonging to an intrication of open systems or ecologies (psychic, social, biological) of affect. To grasp judgment in this radically relational way, Spinoza employs the concept of “complexion,” which denotes an individual’s characteristic sentiments and affective disposition. With specific attention to the psychosocial mechanism Spinoza calls the “imitation of the affects,” the chapter examines how individual “complexion” functions as a principle of judgment that acquires determinate application through divergent strategies of mimetic desire. These strategies range from imagined fusion, whereby individuals strive to assimilate others’ complexions to their own, to forms of mutuality, whereby individuals strive to develop and transform themselves in alliance with others. The chapter concludes that Spinoza’s account of mimetic desire presents an incommensurability between modes of prefiguring—more or less passionately and rationally—how a common world is at once shared and divided.

Keywords:   affect, common, complexion, conflict, judgment, Spinoza

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