books

New book: Spinoza: the Ethics of an Outlaw

A blurb from the publisher follows.

Spinoza: The Ethics of an Outlaw

By Ivan Segré

Translated by David Broder

Spinoza is among the most controversial and asymmetrical thinkers in the tradition and history of modern European philosophy. Since the 17th century, his work has aroused some of the fiercest and most intense polemics in the discipline. From his expulsion from the synagogue and onwards, Spinoza has never ceased to embody the secular, heretical and self-loathing Jew. Ivan Segré, a philosopher and celebrated scholar of the Talmud, discloses the conservative underpinnings that have animated Spinoza’s numerable critics and antagonists.

Through a close reading of Leo Strauss and several contemporary Jewish thinkers, such as Jean-Claude Milner and Benny Levy (Sartre’s last secretary), Spinoza: the Ethics of an Outlaw aptly delineates the common cause of Spinoza’s contemporary censors: an explicit hatred of reason and its emancipatory potential. Spinoza’s radical heresy lies in his rejection of any and all blind adherence to Biblical Law, and in his plea for the freedom and autonomy of thought. Segré reclaims Spinoza as a faithful interpreter of the revolutionary potential contained within the Old Testament.

For further information please click here.

 

New book on Spinoza and Education

Spinoza and Education: Freedom, understanding and empowerment

by Dr. Johan Dahlbeck

Spinoza and Education offers a comprehensive investigation into the educational implications of Spinoza’s moral theory. Taking Spinoza’s naturalism as its point of departure, it constructs a considered account of education, taking special care to investigate the educational implications of Spinoza’s psychological egoism. What emerges is a counterintuitive form of education grounded in the egoistic striving of the teacher to persevere and to flourish in existence while still catering to the ethical demands of the students and the greater community.

In providing an educational reading of Spinoza’s moral theory, this book sets up a critical dialogue between educational theory and recent studies which highlight the centrality of ethics in Spinoza’s overall philosophy. By placing his work in a contemporary educational context, chapters explore a counterintuitive conception of education as an ethical project, aimed at overcoming the desire to seek short-term satisfaction and troubling the influential concept of the student as consumer. This book also considers how education, from a Spinozistic point of view, may be approached in terms of a kind of cognitive therapy serving to further a more scientifically adequate understanding of the world and aimed at combating prejudices and superstition.

Spinoza and Education demonstrates that Spinoza’s moral theory can further an educational ideal, where notions of freedom and self-preservation provide the conceptual core of a coherent philosophy of education. As such, it will appeal to researchers, academics and postgraduate students in the fields of philosophy of education, theory of education, critical thinking, philosophy, ethics, and Spinoza studies.

 

More information from:

https://www.routledge.com/Spinoza-and-Education-Freedom-understanding-and-empowerment/Dahlbeck/p/book/9781138931817

New book on Spinoza and Levinas

Richard Cohen, Out of Control: Confrontations between Spinoza and Levinas (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2016); 370pp.

After the end of superstitious religion, what is the meaning of the world? Baruch Spinoza s answer is truth, Emmanuel Levinas s is goodness: science versus ethics. In “Out of Control,” Richard A. Cohen brings this debate to life, providing a nuanced exposition of Spinoza and Levinas and the confrontations between them in ethics, politics, science, and religion.

Spinoza is the control, the inexorable defensive logic of administrative rationality, where freedom is equated to necessity a seventeenth-century glimpse of Orwellian doublespeak and Big Brother. Levinas is the way out: transcendence not of God, being, and logic but of the other person experienced as moral obligation. To alleviate the suffering of others nothing is more important! Spinoza wagers everything on mathematical truth, discarding the rest as ignorance and illusion; for Levinas, nothing surpasses the priorities of morality and justice, to create a world in which humans can be human and not numbers or consumers, drudges or robots.

Situating these two thinkers in today s context, “Out of Control” responds to the fear of dehumanization in a world flattened by the alliance of positivism and plutocracy. It offers a nonideological ethical alternative, a way out and up, in the nobility of one human being helping another, and the solidarity that moves from morality to justice.”

More information from
http://www.sunypress.edu/p-6243-out-of-control.aspx

New book: Affectivity and Philosophy after Spinoza and Nietzsche

Affectivity and Philosophy After Spinoza and Nietzsche, by Stuart Pethick, investigates a much neglected philosophical connection between two of the most controversial figures in the history of philosophy, Benedict Spinoza and Friedrich Nietzsche. It is claimed that these thinkers break with the classical image of philosophy as looking beyond affectivity for a knowledge of the world that can allow us to attain surety of judgement, virtue and happiness, and instead insist that the task of philosophy is not to judge what is right or wrong, but understand how it is that we come to make such judgements. As Spinoza famously remarks, we do not desire something because it is good; we rather call something good because we desire it. Philosophy for Spinoza and Nietzsche thus traces the affective genesis of our desires to help us compose our relations in the world in the most joyful manner possible.  The crucial orientating role of affective experience thus joins these two disparate thinkers in a single and rare task: to make knowledge the most powerful affect.

More information on the publishers website: http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781137486059

New book engaging with Spinoza’s Hebrew Grammar

A new book has been published (in French) that engages substantially with Spinoza’s Compendium of Hebrew Grammar. A short English description follows. Further information from http://www.cnrseditions.fr/philosophie-et-histoire-des-idees/7252-hebreu-du-sacre-au-maternel.html

Hebrew – From Sacred to Mother Tongue

by Keren Mock

Prefaces by Julia Kristeva and Pierre-Marc de Biasi

How is a new mother tongue formed? What are the materials and the circumstances that permit the appearance of a “new” mother tongue? According to what process does an ancient language appear and “modernize” in order to be adopted and practiced by its speakers? An everyday language whose basis is spiritual, cultural and religious, Hebrew allows one to assess the genesis of a contemporary mother tongue. Proceeding with an archeological search which leads us from the present to the most ancient strata, the author dialogs with two of the greatest Israeli writers, Aharon Appelfeld and Sami Michael, enters into the lexicographic “factory” of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, and returns to the philosophical foundations of secular Hebrew by means of a new reading of Baruch Spinoza’s Compendium of Hebrew Grammar.

“Rarely has a work been produced with such skill and originality over such vast fields, and, by means of an interdisciplinary approach, responded to political and ethical challenges which are as current as they are essential.” Julia Kristeva

“From psychoanalysis to semiotics, from intertextuality to the history of ideas, from genetic criticism to philosophy texts, this text prompts us to a happy and generous effective transdisciplinarity as to a veritable intellectual feast.” Pierre-Marc de Biasi