CFP: The Body in Spinoza’s Philosophy

Institute of Philosophy – Room N, KU Leuven

Leuven, Belgium

18 March 2016


“Spinoza’s Account of Agreement in Nature: From Physics to Politics”, Andrea Sangiacomo, University of Groningen

Organizers:  Sean Winkler, KU Leuven; Cody Staton, KU Leuven; Jo Van Cauter, Ghent University; Roland Breeur, KU Leuven; Karin de Boer, KU Leuven

According to one of his final letters to Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, Spinoza still had “not had the opportunity to arrange in due order anything” on the subject of physics by the time of his death in 1677. Although his physics is incomplete, the concept of the body as it appears in the so-called Physical Digression of Part 2 of the Ethics is one of Spinoza’s most radical, but also one of his most underdeveloped, concepts. However, Spinoza uses the term ‘body’ to refer to a variety of types of individuals, but it is not clear that he always uses the term in entirely the same way throughout his oeuvre. In the Ethics, he mentions the so-called simplest bodies and composite bodies and in his political writings, he refers to ‘the body of the state’. Additionally, the facies totius universi, which Spinoza mentions in a letter to Schuller, is often characterized as the infinitely expansive body of the universe. The aim of this workshop is to facilitate a dialogue between researchers working in different areas of Spinoza’s philosophy by examining, comparing and assessing Spinoza’s different accounts of the body in his metaphysical, physical, ethical and political writings.

We welcome proposals that deal with the concept of body in Spinoza’s philosophy in any respect. Topics may include:

  • Influences on Spinoza’s theory of body (from anatomy, physics, physiology, political theory, etc.)
  • Spinoza’s understanding of the relationship between physics, anatomy and/or physiology
  • A comparison of Spinoza’s various accounts of the body
  • Spinoza’s conception of the form of the body as a “union of bodies” or as a “proportion of motion and rest”
  • The distinction between living and non-living things in Spinoza’s philosophy
  • Spinoza’s theory of political bodies
  • Spinoza’s concept of the facies totius universi
  • The role of the body in Spinoza’s ethical philosophy

Please send a 300-word abstract in .doc or .docx format to by 30 November 2015. Abstracts should be prepared for double-blind review by removing any identification details. The author’s name, paper title, institutional position and affiliation should be included in the body of the e-mail. Presentations will be 25 minutes in length, and will be followed by 20 minutes of discussion. Submitters will be notified by 18 December 2015 of acceptance or rejection.

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