Spinoza Contra Phenomenology: French Rationalism from Cavailles to Deleuze

Overview


Spinoza Contra Phenomenology fundamentally recasts the history of postwar French thought, typically presumed to have been driven by a critique of reason indebted to Nietzsche and Heidegger. Although the reception of phenomenology gave rise to many innovative developments in French philosophy, from existentialism to deconstruction, not everyone in France was pleased with this German import. This book recounts how a series of French philosophers used Spinoza to erect a bulwark against the nominally irrationalist ...
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Spinoza Contra Phenomenology: French Rationalism from Cavaillès to Deleuze

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Overview


Spinoza Contra Phenomenology fundamentally recasts the history of postwar French thought, typically presumed to have been driven by a critique of reason indebted to Nietzsche and Heidegger. Although the reception of phenomenology gave rise to many innovative developments in French philosophy, from existentialism to deconstruction, not everyone in France was pleased with this German import. This book recounts how a series of French philosophers used Spinoza to erect a bulwark against the nominally irrationalist tendencies of phenomenology. From its beginnings in the interwar years, this rationalism would prove foundational for Althusser's rethinking of Marxism and Deleuze's ambitious metaphysics. There has been a renewed enthusiasm for Spinozism of late by those who see his work as a kind of neo-vitalism or philosophy of life and affect. Peden counters this trend by tracking a decisive and neglected aspect of Spinoza's philosophy—his rationalism—in a body of thought too often presumed to have rejected reason. In the process, he demonstrates that the virtues of Spinoza's rationalism have yet to be exhausted.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Not only does [Spinoza Contra Phenomenlogy] contribute excellent biographical sketches of the less well known figures of Jean Cavaillès, Martial Gueroult, Ferdinand Alquié, and Jean-Toussaint Desanti; it effectively reveals the world that shaped them, and their effect on the conceptual universe of continental philosophy today . . . One cannot do justice here to Peden's rich discussion of Cavaillès' work on mathematics and set theory."—Harrison Fluss, Radical Philosophy Review

"Peden offers an important book that seeks to challenge the dominant narrative that 20th-century French philosophy was in large part a series of responses to developments in post-Kantian German philosophy . . . [P]hilosophers and intellectual historians will find that this carefully researched book offers much to learn. An important acquisition for academic libraries building collections in 20th-century European philosophy . . . Summing Up: Highly Recommended."—A. D. Schrift, CHOICE

"In this signal contribution to the study of European thought, Knox Peden shows that the importation of German phenomenology to France in the twentieth century was only part of the story. In appealing to Benedict Spinoza's version of rationalism, neglected figures whom this book restores to their centrality made conceptual moves of lasting importance, setting a context for the careers of Louis Althusser and Gilles Deleuze, with which Peden's absorbing reinterpretation culminates. Thanks to his sure grasp of the theoretical materials and ability to address them in lucid writing, Spinoza Contra Phenomenology redraws the map, not simply for the sake of having a better one, but because debates across the contemporary humanities need its orientation."—Samuel Moyn, Columbia University

"The conventional understanding of twentieth-century French thought is just beginning to fracture, and we are now coming to appreciate the complexity and significance of intellectual trends that once-dominant schools—such as phenomenology and existentialism, structuralism and post-structuralism—have too long obscured. In this brilliant new study, Knox Peden breaks free of received wisdom to cast a new light on the movement of French philosophical rationalism that borrowed both its energies and its name from the metaphysical writings of a seventeenth-century heretical Jew. Spinozism, as reimagined in France by heterodox intellectuals such as Althusser and Deleuze, was something more than a philosophy: it was a veritable ethos. With verve and sophistication, Peden maps this inheritance and guides us through the formidable debates that have not yet reached their end."—Peter Eli Gordon, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804791342
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/4/2014
  • Series: Cultural Memory in the Present Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,080,695
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Knox Peden is an Australian Research Council Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University.
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