Building Education for the Commons
Spinoza’s philosophy has rightly been recognized as expressing the capacity for radical political change. Specifically, his account of power – understood through terms such as substance, attributes, modes, and affects – has helped politics be conceived as a potentiality that exceeds the given frameworks. At the same time, many have observed that today’s capitalism, with its dependence on debt and communication, actually maintains itself by capturing, or even “encouraging,” this potentiality. Consequently, there is now a tendency to call for a politics not only of potentiality, but also of negativity. The idea is that only through a capacity to negate will we be able to break out of (and against) contemporary capitalism.
This course addresses the relation between the power of potentiality and the call for a politics that knows how to negate. Specifically, it seeks to understand whether Spinoza’s philosophy, which is already acknowledged for its power of potentiality, can also help articulate a negation of debt-oriented, communicative capitalism. In order to address this question, we will read selected sections of Spinoza’s Ethics alongside various theoretical texts that take up the question of negativity. Accordingly, the class offers the opportunity to learn from and think together with essential philosophers – not only Spinoza, but also Gilles Deleuze, Frank B. Wilderson, III, and François Laruelle.
The course will be structured according to a lecture format, but in a manner that enables and emphasizes discussion.
In this course, the student will investigate and independently evaluate the intersection between the political-theoretical critique of contemporary capitalism and the philosophical trajectories of potentiality and/or negativity. In doing so, the student will learn from and think together with the specific philosophies indicated Spinoza, Deleuze, Wilderson, and Laruelle.
There are no prerequisites for this course, although some background in philosophy is helpful. If you have any questions concerning this issue, please contact the course instructor.
Schedule: March 18 & 25 – April 15 & 22, 2015