History of philosophy is debated in new book about Spinoza

The book is permeated not only by the subtleties of the knowledge it dissects and disseminates, but also by a sophistication of language essential to the achievement of its goals, setting out an original approach to Spinoza’s thought.
Institutional
02 September 2021
History of philosophy is debated in new book about Spinoza

First published in 1968 and republished in 1988 by Éditions de Minuit of Paris, the book “Individual and Community in Spinoza” by Alexandre Matheron now has a Portuguese version for the Brazilian market, published by FGV Press. It was translated by engineer Martha de Aratanha and professors Baptiste Grasset and Emanuel Rocha Fragoso. The book is permeated not only by the subtleties of the knowledge it dissects and disseminates, but also by a sophistication of language essential to the achievement of its goals, setting out an original approach to Spinoza’s thought.

The author explores a paradox, as he intends to follow the most demanding objectivist and rationalist parameters of the austere discipline to which he belongs: the history of philosophy. However, Matheron adds other parameters, involving objectivism and radical rationalism, beyond most of the precepts that usually prevail over the practices of simple interpretation of texts.

Like Guéroult and Deleuze, Matheron practices a genetic reading of Spinoza’s work. Unlike the excessively frequent essayistic tendency among interpreters (especially at the time), it is a question of starting from the text and deciphering its own resources in order to elucidate its meaning. Subjective intuitions, haphazard hypotheses and reading habits imposed by the authority of the commentary tradition are rejected.

According to Matheron, the philosophical system elaborated by Spinoza and the truth gradually discovered by his thought, as he intensifies his understanding of himself, are two different things. Matheron’s method aims to give voice and systematic priority to this Spinoza who becomes a Spinozist. Spinozist truth, that is, Spinoza’s thought genetically understood and perfectly developed from the point of view of organic unity, that is, of demonstrative density, has a value that, for Matheron, goes far beyond simple philological or historical interest: this truth is the key to deciphering reality.

By virtue of this general principle of analysis, the commentator reorganizes the factual structure of the text according to the genetic order of its reasons and guidelines, and does not hesitate to amend statements that, in his view, remained incomplete, or to fill in what, according to the logic of Spinozist thought as a perfect total organic unit, seems to be a punctual failure or an abnormal gap in the proofs actually produced in the text. Concretely, instead of explaining the text in line with its factual order and therefore departing from Spinoza’s metaphysics, Matheron, in the name of the truth of the philosopher’s finished and complete thought, starts from the conatus doctrine.

The book is available exclusively in digital format on FGV Press’ website and other e-book sales platforms.

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