Friends and fellow travelers!
This spring, I should be posting to this page weekly or bi-weekly. I have two drafts in progress that should be out in the next two weeks.
The first is a response to Pierre Macherey’s Hegel or Spinoza, which is too anti-Hegelian even to be Spinozan. Aside from a few notes that I hope will point towards a better way of thinking about the relation between Spinoza and Hegel than we find in Macherey, much of the piece is dedicated to (i) the argument that accepting Macherey’s Spinoza makes the Ethics unintelligible as an ethics and (ii) a brief presentation of the Spinoza I find missing from much 20th century continental or Marxist Spinozism—specifically, through Spinoza’s concepts of education, human nature, true politics, true morality, and true religion. In short, I find that much popular Spinozism focuses on Spinoza’s critique of finite thought in the Appendix to Ethics I to the exclusion of the rest of the Ethics—especially the Preface to Book IV, I’ll argue—where Spinoza patiently guides his readers through the process of articulating the absolute through the relative, the truth of the understanding through the images of the body, and arriving at eternity through activity in time. It is this Spinoza that thinks speculatively in Hegel’s sense, but which is really just a designation for an ancient dialectical exercise of thought which neither Spinoza nor Hegel can claim as their own (and neither of whom tried to).
The second is the result of a month-long study of the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika school of Classical Indian philosophy. In it, I try to take N-V thought seriously as a tradition of systematic philosophy given its own concept of system-construction and theory of categories. It is a reading I developed through teaching N-V texts, and I owe everything I’ve learned about it to my students.
Beyond these, I hope to be writing shorter weekly or bi-weekly pieces on whatever material I am working with for class or dissertation work or personal research. This semester, I’ve been wrestling with the thought of Laozi, Avicenna, Ibn Tufayl, Zera Yacob, and more for the first time, and if time permits I’ll polish up my notes on these texts in short reflections for you.
Thank you for your patience so far! I’m hoping you’ll bear with me a little longer, since I believe the cardinal sin of most philosophy is its self-indulgent resistance to editing, revision, and concision. Everything I’ll be publishing here will be much shorter than my work in the past, even if it will occasionally be denser. Much of the posts will be consigned to footnotes, where I’ll take up details and threads less relevant to the core of the post.
And thanks for reading!