Hegel After Spinoza: A Volume of Critical Essays
Edited by Hasana Sharp and Jason Smith
Call for Papers
The names Hegel and Spinoza have come to represent two irreconcilable paths in contemporary philosophy. This opposition has taken different forms, but has its roots in mid- to late-20th century French philosophy. Althusser announced that he required a “detour” away from Hegel and through Spinoza in order to arrive at a genuinely materialist Marxism. Pierre Macherey staged a careful deconstruction of Hegel’s claim to have superseded Spinoza’s system in Hegel ou Spinoza, which concomitantly served as a defence of Spinozism against the Hegelianism dominant in France in the 1960s and ‘70s. Among the most influential articulations of this antagonism are the polemics of Deleuze celebrating the immanent and vitalist thinking of a materialist tradition beginning with Lucretius and passing through Spinoza to the present, to which he opposes the logic of totality, negativity, and contradiction found in Hegel. Spinoza, for Deleuze and others, stands for a rejection of negativity and lack as the foundation of philosophical and political thought, and as a salutary alternative to the negativity (in both the logical and existential senses) associated not only with Hegel, but with Hobbes, Freud, Sartre, Heidegger, and Lévinas as well. Feminists have likewise celebrated Spinoza as providing a joyful alternative to a tradition that emphasizes anxiety, mortality, and combat. This opposition, in its various expressions, underscores that reading Hegel has always been and remains a political act.
We are seeking essays to contribute to an anthology on the relationship between Spinoza and Hegel that move beyond the stalemate of current debates in continental philosophy. The title we have proposed for this collection points toward a horizon that no longer opposes a “bad” Hegel to a “good” Spinoza; we seek essays that indicate how contemporary readings of Spinoza—no longer the thinker of absolute substance, but of immanent causality, singular connections, transindividuality, and the multitude—might illuminate otherwise less visible threads in Hegel’s thought, and open the way to a re-reading of Hegel, beyond the institutionalized figure we take for granted. How might a productive and mutually enlightening encounter be produced between these two great systematic thinkers? What political possibilities are opened up by reading Hegel and Spinoza as useful contrasts rather than moral alternatives? The anthology will be published in a series that treats historical topics in light of contemporary continental thought. We are open to a broad range of topics within this rubric, but are especially interested in new readings that avoid simply recapitulating either the pantheism controversy in 19th century Germany or the French polemics of the 20th century.
Please send papers of 7,500-10,000 words to
Hasana Sharp (hasana.sharp_at_mcgill.ca) or Jason Smith (Jason.Smith_at_Artcenter.edu) by 15 June, 2010.