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Julia Borcherding: A View from Nowhere?

The Place of Subjectivity in Spinoza’s Ethics

Lecture by Julia Borcherding (Yale University) organized by Dept History of Philosophy


Can one be both a modern rationalist and still have room for the subjective character of human experience? At least prima facie, rationalism and subjectivity seem to conflict: On the one hand, there is rationalism’s commitment to the complete intelligibility of being, clearly expressed in Spinoza’s adherence to the Principle of Sufficient Reason. On the other, there is our subjective experience of the world, which many view as unique and irreducible. But a rationalist metaphysical enquiry sub specie aeternitatis such as the one pursued by Spinoza seems to leave no room for such a seemingly arbitrary privileging of a particular finite perspective.

My aim in this paper is two-fold: first, to gain a better understanding of the place of subjective experience in the Ethics; second, to show that it is at least an open question whether we should ascribe to Spinoza the view that all of reality is fully intelligible from an objective standpoint. My hope is that this might let us see Spinoza’s rationalism in a different light, not simply as a rigid deductive system, but as a more dynamic endeavor where subjective experience supplements conceptual analysis, rather than being excluded by it.

Julia Borcherding

Julia Borcherding is a PhD candidate at Yale University, New Haven, and an associate member of the research group “Transformations of Mind. Philosophical Psychology from 1500 to 1750” at Humboldt University Berlin . She studied at Humboldt-University Berlin and the University of Toronto (MA in 2011 at HU Berlin). She has translated selections from the works of Antoine Arnauld and published an article on his theory of ideas (“Intentionalität, Repräsentation und Phänomenologie”, 2010; with S. Schmid).

When & where?

Wed 9 Jan '13, 14.00
Room Beta, Fac of Philosophy

All welcome!

Laatst gewijzigd:18 december 2012 12:18