Of Freedom: Heidegger on Spinoza

Ah the wind, the wind is blowing   spinoza

Through the graves, the wind is blowing

Freedom soon will come;

Then we’ll come from the shadows.

Leonard Cohen, ‘The Partisan’[i]

Spinoza is often quoted approvingly (for instance, by Deleuze in his Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza and Andre Garcia Düttman in his Address to the 3rd Annual Joint Conference of the Society for European Philosophy and the Forum for European Philosophy in 2007) to the effect that the free man is the one who thinks about, or fears, death the least.  Such fear he considers to be a passive emotion, or affection, a bondage to pain, symptomatic of impotence and servitude.  The free man, in this light, is one who has not only cultivated the stronger active emotion of acquiescence to the univocal chorus of necessity (Eternity), but has also learned to disengage external factors which bring about such passive emotions – to organise the ‘order of encounters’ as Deleuze describes in his Expressionism.  Heidegger, on the contrary, who criticises Spinoza, and the impersonal, mathematical character of his system, in his 1936 lecture course, Schelling’s Treatise on Freedom, would seem to take further issue with Spinoza in his own contention that the one who faces his or her ownmost possibility of death without evasion, is the one who is most free, or who, perhaps, will have found him or herself in a moment that discloses the necessity of one’s own singular, personal freedom.

Read the rest of this essay at Of Freedom: Heidegger on Spinoza


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