‘Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity’ by Gregor Moder

Published by Northwestern University Press in 2017.


A reading of Hegel and Spinoza not in opposition or contrast, but together: as Hegel AND Spinoza. Gregor Moder’s Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity is a lively entry into current debates surrounding the issues raised by Hegel’s readings of Spinoza, from the Lacanians and Deleuzeans to the Althusserians and Heideggerians.

Hegel and Spinoza have inspired generations of scholars and sparked two of the most influential philosophical traditions that persist to this day. Just as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German Idealism legitimated itself through its attempt to transcend Spinozist determinacy by reserving a place for the freedom of the subject, so, too, did the twentieth-century French materialism of Althusser, Deleuze, and others by deploying Spinoza as the champion of anti-Hegelian materialism. This set of alternatives, or, rather, mutual theoretical rejection, is perhaps nowhere quite as evident as in the controversies between contemporary Deleuzeans and Lacanians.

Contemporary materialist philosophy is either Spinozist or Hegelian—it either abolishes the concepts of the subject and negation, arguing for pure affirmation, that is, the vitalistic production of differences, or it makes a case for the productiveness of concepts of the negative, nothingness, and death. Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity both traces the historical elements of these alternatives and explains contemporary discussions as its variation, persuasively demonstrating throughout that the best way to read Hegel and Spinoza is not in opposition or contrast, but together: as Hegel and Spinoza.

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