De Italiaanse filosoof Diego Fusaro over Spinoza's "politieke ontologie"


De Italiaanse filosoof Diego Fusaro [cf.] is zeer actief in de media en vooral online, zoals blijkt uit deze afbeeldingen die nog maar een deel tonen van een veel groter aantal. [cf. zijn website]

Enige dagen terug, op 27 mei 2016, bracht hij een video op Youtube over “Spinoza. Democratic Community and Political Ontology.” Hij spreekt Italiaans, maar zijn tekst werd getranscribeerd en vertaald in duidelijke ondertitels meegegeven. Daar ik er iets interessants in beluisterde, althans las, haal ik zijn video hier naar binnen en nam ik die tekst over, daar die sneller nog eens te raadplegen en te overdenken is.

Het zou me niet verbazen als dit korte college een samenvatting is van de enige tekst [cf.] die hij over Spinoza schreef en bijdroeg aan een boek dat mede door Andrea Sangiacomo geredigeerd werd: “Come un solo corpo. Spinoza e l'ontologia dell'essere sociale,” in: La Ragione della Parola. Religione, Ermeneutica e Linguaggio in Baruch Spinoza (a cura di Francesco Camera e Andrea Sangiacomo). I Cento Talleri, 2013, p. 259-294 [cf. blog]

Hierna video en interessante samenvattende tekst. Ik zet een klein vraagtekentje bij de mereologie die hij Spinoza toedicht, n.l. “the communitarian totality (the community's substance) is essentially a totality taking precedence over the individual parts,” terwijl bij Spinoza ook het tegendeel, n.l. dat delen eerder zijn dan het geheel, te vinden is. Ook in zijn interessante vergelijking tussen Spinoza’s ontologie in de Ethica en de politieke ontologie in de politieke traktaten, lijkt hij de attributen als delen van de substantie te lezen, hetgeen zeer aanvechtbaar is. Overigens vind ik het een interessante beschouwing.

Spinoza. Democratic Community and Political Ontology 

Spinoza is, in my opinion, a seventeenth century anomaly. Toni Negri defined him as a “The Wild Anomaly” in his well-received book by the same title. I would rather call him a “fruitful” anomaly, because, as a thinker, he is completely unconventional in the context of his times, which were characterized by the "mos geometricus” and Cartesian grammar. Admittedly, Spinoza makes use of Cartesian grammar too in his texts, prior to the "Ethics”;.yet his philosophical works fully exceed the essence of Cartesian discourse, and, more generally, the sense of the times he was thinking and living in. Spinoza is therefore a non-aligned thinker, very unusual forhis epoch, inconsistent with the spirit of his time. This can be clearly-seen from a few events that deserve consideration. For instance, the fact that in 1656 Spinoza was expelled from the Synagogue due to his unorthodox theological views. There was even a famous spiritual judgment against Spinoza, calling for his eternal damnation. Another hint Spinoza was totally unsynchronised with his epoch is his idea of libertas philosophandi, the freedom to say and think anything one wants, as the score of one's own freedom. We know that this concept is at the philosophical core of the “Theologico-Political Treatise”, but it is also central in a letter written by Spinoza to reject a prestigious teaching post at Heidelberg, where he had been Invited. He rejected it because, had he been appointed as a teacher at Heidelberg, he could not have continued his philosophical quest, based precisely on the libertas philosophandi. In this letter, written on 30 March 1673, Spinoza note how accepting the post in Heidelberg would have meant losing his libertas philosophandi, and setting a limit to his freedom of thought. These important events show that Spinoza an eccentric for his times. I would like to highlight here that his ethics (which he explained according to geometrical order and therefore based on his ethical ontological discourse) is also outlined in the "Theological-Political Theatise" and the “Political Treatise”, two texts that should be read-together. Through them Spinoza focuses his attention on what I would call a "poItIcal ontology” centred on the idea of democracy, as a community where parts do not disappear, but rather coexist in the inter-subjective social spice, and where individuals realise their capacity to act, their rights, their potential and their full expression in the democratic form, where each individual is sustained and validated within the democratic community. We-know that, in the "Theological-Political Treatis”, Spinoza states that "democracy is the most natural form of government, and the most consonant wit individual liberty”, keeping together the two dimensions of ontology and politics. What does that mean? We need to begin with Spinoza’s ethics. Spinoza’s definition of substance is well-known: "By substance I intend what is existing in itself and is concelved through itself", that is to say, in Aristotelian terms, something that, in order to exist and think about itself, needs nothing else outside of itself. Now, substance (as ethics, on the ontological plane) is essentially the totality of the determinations of being,

Just as on the political plane (in his Treatises) the communitarian totality (the community's substance) is essentially a totality taking precedence over the individual parts, and where individuals do not disappear, but are rather fully realised. Therefore horizontal, non-hierarchical relationships among attributes (compared to the unique substance they are continuously manifesting in) are the same horizontal relationships that in the political sphere we find among men vis à vis the unique community they equally part of.

The negation of transcendence, one of the cornerstones of Spinoza's thought, demands to be read, in the political context, as the negation of vertical hierarchies in human relationships. The "communitas democratica" of individuals as part of a community exists democratic vision, or, if we prefer, a democratic community, where the ontological unity of substance is reflected the socio-political dimension. So writes Spinoza in his Ethics: We are a part of nature that cannot be conceived in itself alone", consequently, on the ontological and political plane "the whole of nature is a single individual, whose parts vary in infinite ways without causing any change in the whole individual.” Therefore the ontological unity, manifesting in the infinite plurality of attributes, is then reflected on the political plane in the community, coexisting with the kaleidoscopic plurality of the single individuals' ways of thinking and of being, each a harbinger of his “libertas philosophandi” in its uncompromising essence. We learn from the Ethics that Spinoza’s anthropology is communitarian by vocation. So writes Spinoza in Ethics 4 proposition 73: "A man guided by reason is freer within the State, where he lives according to common decree, than in solitude, where he only obeys himself.” Again, in a well-known passage of the Ethics: "Nothing is more useful to man than man himself. Nothing is more necessary, in order to preserve the way of life that men can desire, than tot agree on everything, so that the minds and bodies of each form almost a single mind and a single body, and all together endeavour, as-best as they can, to preserve their way of being, and all together search, each for himself, the common good for everyone. Therefore men are driven by reason, that is, those men who are led by reason when looking for their gain, do not covet anything different for themselves  than they would wish for other men, and are therefore fair and honest.” I have here briefly outlined Spinoza's political ontology from a philosophical standpoint, where the Ethics and the two Treatises complement each other in the consensus that unity is in the plurality of forms (and attributes), which-in reality are still parts of a single substance, or a single communitarian pluralism. Spinoza can thus be considered the great modern founder of democracy, as a community of free and equal individuals, acting and relating in the inter-subjective space. Spinoza's philosophical revolution is no less important than that of other great modern thinkers like Hegel and Marx.