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Spinoza and the Origins of Modern Critical Theory

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Spinoza and the Origins of Modern Critical Theory

Christopher Norris

ISBN: 978-0-631-17557-5 August 1991 Wiley-Blackwell 332 Pages

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Description

This book offers a detailed account of Spinoza's influence on various schools of present-day critical thought. That influence extends from Althusserian Marxism to hermeneutics, deconstruction, narrative poetics, new historicism, and the unclassifiable writings of a thinker like Giles Deleuze. The author combines a close exegesis of Spinoza's texts with a series of chapters that trace the evolution of literary theory from its period of high scientific rigour in the mid-1960s to its latest "postmodern", neopragmatist or anti-theoretical phase. He examines the thought of Althusser, Macherey and Deleuze as well as others (including the new historicists) who have registered the impact of his pioneering work without any overt acknowledgement.

On the one hand, theorists like Althusser and Macherey could celebrate Spinoza as the first philosopher before Marx to understand the need for a riorous distinction between science (or "theoretical practice") and ideology (or the realm of lived experience subject to various forms of imaginary error of misrecognition). On the other, Deleuze makes Spinoza the hero of his crusade against theories of whatever kind - Kantian, Marxist, Freudian, post structuralist - which always end up by imposing some abstract order of concepts and categories on the libidinal flux of "desiring production", or the "body-without-organs" of anarchic instinctual drives.

Preface vi

Introduction 1

Author's Preface 11

A Note on Texts 19

1 Spinoza versus Hegel: the Althusserian Moment 21

2 Of Truth and Error in a Spinozist Sense: Deleuze, Derrida, de Man 55

3 Language, Truth and Historical Understanding 103

4 The Claim of Reason: Spinoza as a Left-Cartesian 143

5 From Scriptural Hermeneutics to Secular Critique 177

6 Fiction, Philosophy and the Way of Ideas 217

7 Why Spinoza Now? The Critique of Revelation Revisited 251

Notes: Christopher Norris: A Selected Bibliography, 1974-1989 Compiled by Holly Henry and Brenda O'Boyle 303

Index 319