Monday, May 14, 2012

Peter Gratton Reviews "Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization"

Peter Gratton reviews Hasana Sharp's Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization (University of Chicago Press, 2011) for Society and Space (here). If I've understood Peter correctly, this review will be of interest if: 1) you've dabbled in post-Althusserian or Deleuzian interpretations of Spinoza; 2) you think that politics is mischaracterized when it is conceptualized around the transcendence of the Other; and/or 3) you have an interest in contemporary debates over materialism/realism and discussions of immanence. It's more than likely that a large majority of visitors to The Notes Taken fall into one or more of these categories.

I've been meaning to read Sharp's book for my not-so-urgent research into a paper I'd like to write, echoing a title of Pierre Macherey's, entitled "Schelling or Spinoza."

In Peter's words:
I have my own quibbles about the states of immanentism today, but nevertheless Sharp is convincing that one must first traverse Spinoza’s immanentist and naturalistic philosophy in a way that to my mind has never been done widely, whether we think ourselves post-Nietzschean or not. The element of the transcendent, if not the transcendental, conceived in terms of rights, the Other, the duties of practical reason, etc., still marks how we think the space of the political, and Sharp’s task is to have us think wholly otherwise, if not of the wholly Other.
What Sharp argues for is a “politics of renaturalization”. This surely is her most controversial claim, given the ways in which, throughout the era of the regimes of the biopolitical, nature has been used as the nom de guerre of the pernicious splits in society along racial, nationalistic, and patriarchal lines. But in true Spinozistic fashion, Sharp makes her points in ways that do less to anger her discursive partners than to build alliances by showing how the “denaturalizing” claims of feminists and critical race theorists are anything but anathema to her own project, though they need to be attenuated in terms of their “social constructivism.”

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