Jul 22, 2024  
College Catalog 2023-2024 
College Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ENVI 274 - Spinoza’s Eco-Society: Contractless Society and Its Ecology

Cross-Listed as GERM 274  and POLI 274  
All readings and class taught in English; no pre-knowledge required. Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) has been called the “savage anomaly” of the Enlightenment because his philosophy enables an alternative or ‘hidden’ modernity based on the interdependence of beings rather than their hierarchy. Ever more political theorists, environmentalists, and ecologists are turning to Spinoza’s vision of a nonhierarchical union of nature and society that rejects anthropocentrism as the promise for a more equitable and sustainable life. In this course we shall focus on the foundation of Spinoza’s unconventional thesis: his intertwined conceptions of the human being as part of nature-as opposed to the prevailing notion of the human as an autonomous “imperium” in, yet above, nature-and of society as a continuation of nature-as opposed to the dominant theories of the “social contract” that ground society on its break with, or repression of, nature (Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant). We shall examine Spinoza’s entailed radical revision in understanding both the “political” and the “environment.” Beyond Spinoza’s Ethics and his Theologico-Political and Political treatises, we shall read major commentators on Spinoza’s ethical and political theory and on his role in environmental ethics and Deep Ecology. Offered occasionally. (4 Credits)