Building Education for the Commons

Prof Daniel Barber’s GCAS Seminar: Spinoza & the Politics of Negativity

We are please to announce that Prof. Daniel Barber will be teaching his second GCAS seminar in March.
Prof. Daniel Barber

Prof. Daniel Barber

Title: Spinoza & the Politics of Negativity

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.

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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

Required books and Materials All texts will be electronically supplied as PDFs via the course page.
Credits 1

2 comments on “Prof Daniel Barber’s GCAS Seminar: Spinoza & the Politics of Negativity

  1. mattsstafford
    March 2, 2015

    Hi, My name is Matt Stafford. I would like to participate in Dan Barber’s class. I have no real interest in getting credit. I am just blown away by the teacher’s honest way of pursuing knowledge. I have a Masters in philosophy at the Katholiek Universiteit at Leuven. Currently I am a practicing Social Worker after getting an MSW at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. I am not really interested in pursuing a degree. I just want to study with Barber. I read Diaspora and am an avid reader of his contributions to AUFS. I am waiting for his new book to come in the mail. I am ready to pay for the course and I am sensitive to what it looks like not to have all the pre-reqs. If granted admission, you’ll get them soon. Letters will be a challenge because it has been so long since I have been a student. But, I will do my best and I have plenty of (mediocre) writing. So, I am asking for a chance here. It seems that this “project” is fit for people like me. I dont give a shit about the degree or stature. I just want to learn more to help what I think you guys are trying to achieve.


    • Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS)
      March 2, 2015

      Hi, Matt! Thanks for your note. You are more than welcomed to participate in Daniel’s class. You can register here: https://globalcenterforadvancedstudies.org/spring-2015-registration/

      Then once you’re registered, you can sign-up to Dan’s class.

      If you email me, I can assist you in signing up.

      Thank you for supporting GCAS.

      Creston (Founder & Director)


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This entry was posted on February 3, 2015 by .
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