“Hegel and Spinoza” symposium, Nov 24 – Goldsmiths University, London

13th Nov 2017

Hegel and Spinoza: A Symposium
24 November 2017
PSH 314

Spinoza’s philosophy, especially in its contemporary readings inspired by Deleuze and Althusser, is a radical choice for being without gaps or imperfections, for a substance that has no use for negativity, for a production of differences which are not simple logical contradictions. As such, it stands in opposition to all thought which follows Hegel’s equally radical choice for productive power of the negative, of nothingness itself, to any claim that non-being is creative. It seems that contemporary materialism should either choose one or the other, Spinoza or Hegel, Spinoza against Hegel. But is that really so? Perhaps one of the major tasks of materialism today is precisely the task of thinking their encounter in its historical, ontological, and political implications. This symposium will explore these issues through the prism of Gregor Moder’s new book, Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity (Northwestern University Press, 2017).
Gregor Moder (Ljubljana)
Benjamin Noys (Chichester), author of The Persistence of the Negative
Jamila Mascat (Utrecht), author of Hegel a Jena: La critica dell’astrazione
Caroline Williams (Queen Mary), author of Spinoza and Political Critique: Thinking the Political in the Wake of Althusser
Gregor Moder’s Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity is a lively entry into current debates concerning Hegel, Spinoza, and their relation. Hegel and Spinoza are two of the most influential philosophers of the modern era, and the traditions of thought they inaugurated have been in continuous dialogue and conflict ever since Hegel first criticized Spinoza. Notably, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German Idealists aimed to overcome the determinism of Spinoza’s system by securing a place for the freedom of the subject within it, and twentieth-century French materialists such as Althusser and Deleuze rallied behind Spinoza as the ultimate champion of anti-Hegelian materialism. This conflict, or mutual rejection, lives on today in recent discussions about materialism. Contemporary thinkers either make a Hegelian case for the productiveness of concepts of the negative, nothingness, and death, or in a way that is inspired by Spinoza they abolish the concepts of the subject and negation and argue for pure affirmation and the vitalistic production of differences. Hegel and Spinoza traces the historical roots of these alternatives and shows how contemporary discussions between Heideggerians and Althusserians, Lacanians and Deleuzians are a variation of the disagreement between Hegel and Spinoza. Throughout, Moder persuasively demonstrates that the best way to read Hegel and Spinoza is not in opposition or contrast but together: as Hegel and Spinoza.