The Ontology Wars

A Review of Pierre Macherey’s Hegel or Spinoza?

in Historical Materialism
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Pierre Macherey’s Hegel or Spinoza? suggests that Hegel was driven to his now legendary misinterpretations of Spinoza because he could not accept Spinozism without compromising his own philosophy. Macherey shows us a Spinoza that pre-emptively resists and challenges Hegel’s understanding of Spirit as Subject realising itself through self-negation and contradiction. This review draws out the central arguments in the book, and those arguments most salient for contemporary theories of capitalism and revolution, and points towards possible implications for Marxist theory.

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References

AlthusserLouis LockGrahame Essays in Self-Criticism 1976 London New Left Books

AlthusserLouis BrewsterBen For Marx 2005 London Verso

ArthurChristopher J. The New Dialectic and Marx’s Capital, Historical Materialism 2002 Leiden Brill Book Series

BadiouAlain BurchillLouise Deleuze: The Clamor of Being 1999 First Edition Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press

BalibarÉtienne Spinoza: From Individuality to Transindividuality 1997 Delft Eburon

BalibarÉtienne SnowdonPeter Spinoza and Politics 1998 London Verso

BalibarÉtienneMachereyPierreKavanaghJames H.LewisThomas E. ‘Interview: Balibar and Macherey’ Diacritics 1982 12 1 46 52

CurleyEdwin M.MoreauPierre-François Spinoza: Issues and Directions. The Proceedings of the Chicago Spinoza Conference, 1986 1990 Leiden Brill

DeleuzeGilles HurleyRobert Spinoza: Practical Philosophy 1988 San Francisco City Lights Books

DeleuzeGilles JoughinMartin Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza 1990 Cambridge, MA Zone Books

Endnotes ‘The Moving Contradiction: The Systematic Dialectic of Capital as a Dialectic of Class Struggle’ Endnotes 2010 2 available at: <http://endnotes.org.uk/en/endnotes-the-moving-contradiction>.

HarrisHenry Silton Hegel’s Development: Night Thoughts (Jena 1801–1806) 1984 Oxford Oxford University Press

HarveyDavid ‘History versus Theory: A Commentary on Marx’s Method in Capital’ Historical Materialism 2012 20 2 3 38

HollandEugene ‘Spinoza and Marx’ 1998 available at: <http://clogic.eserver.org/2-1/holland.html>, accessed 30 March 2013

KlineGeorge Louis CurleyMoreau ‘Pierre Macherey’s Hegel or Spinoza? 1990 1990

LyonBernard ‘The Suspended Step of Communisation’ Sic: International Journal for Communisation 2012 1 147 69 available at: <https://libcom.org/files/sic-1-08-the-suspended-step-of-communisation.pdf>

MachereyPierre MontagWarren In a Materialist Way: Selected Essays 1998 London Verso

MachereyPierre RuddickSusan M. Hegel or Spinoza? 2011 Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press

MachereyPierre ‘Figures of Interpellation in Althusser and Fanon’ Radical Philosophy 2012 173 9

MatheronAlexandre Individu et communauté chez Spinoza 1969 Paris Les Éditions de Minuit

MelamedYitzhak Y. ‘Acosmism or Weak Individuals?: Hegel, Spinoza, and the Reality of the Finite’ Journal of the History of Philosophy 2010 48 1 77 92

MontagWarren SharpSmith ‘Hegel, sive Spinoza: Hegel as His Own True Other’ 2012 2012

NegriAntonio FlemingJames Marx beyond Marx: Lessons on the Grundrisse 1991 New York/London Autonomedia and Pluto Press

NegriAntonio HardtMichael The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics 2000 Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press

NegriAntonio MurphyTimothy S. Subversive Spinoza: (Un)contemporary Variations 2004 Manchester Manchester University Press

PostoneMoishe Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory 1996 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

PoulantzasNicos MartinJames The Poulantzas Reader: Marxism, Law and the State 2008 London Verso

ReadJason ‘The Order and Connection of Ideas: Theoretical Practice in Macherey’s Turn to Spinoza’ Rethinking Marxism 2007 19 4 500 20

Sharp,Hasana Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization 2011 Chicago The University of Chicago Press

SharpHasanaSmithJason E. Between Hegel and Spinoza: A Volume of Critical Essays 2012 London Bloomsbury

Théorie Communiste ‘Response to the Americans on Gender’ 2011 accessed 1 March 2014 available at: <http://libcom.org/library/response-americans-gender-theorie-communiste>,

Théorie Communiste Gender – Class – Dynamic and Comrades, but Women 2011 New York Pétroleuse Press

ToscanoAlberto ‘The Politics of Spinozism: Composition and Communication’ 2005 accessed 7 June 2013 available at: <https://jupiter.gold.ac.uk/media/toscano_spinoza_teheran.pdf>,

3

See Balibar 1997.

6

Negri 2000, p. 57.

7

Negri 2004, pp. 37–41.

8

Negri 2004, p. 80.

10

For a summary of this, see Holland 1998, paragraphs 17–24.

11

Negri 2004, p. 115.

12

Althusser 2005, p. 94.

15

See Macherey 2012, p. 11.

16

Negri 2000, p. 239, n. 67.

17

See Althusser 2005.

18

Poulantzas 2008, pp. 139–64, connects Althusser’s commitment to contradiction to Mao, who in effect has theorised contradiction more explicitly and foundationally than most other communists over the last century.

20

Montag 2012.

21

Hegel, The Science of Logic, quoted in Macherey 2011, p. 36. At best, Hegel asserts that mathematical methodology of the kind Spinoza engages in is anachronistic and obsolete (Macherey 2011, p. 28).

23

Melamed 2010, p. 83.

24

Holland 1998, paragraph 8.

25

Hegel quoted in Macherey 2011, p. 120.

26

Sharp 2011, p. 120. In similar vein to Macherey’s critique of Negri, Sharp criticises Deleuze for re-instituting Hegelianism through his vulgarised dismissal of it.

27

Deleuze 1990, p. 60. Also: ‘[i]n the reproach Hegel will make to Spinoza, that he ignored the negative and its power, lies the glory and innocence of Spinoza, his own discovery. In a world consumed by the negative, he has enough confidence in life, in the power of life, to challenge death, the murderous appetite of men, the rules of good and evil, and the just and unjust. Enough confidence in life to denounce all the phantoms of the negative.’ (Deleuze 1988, p. 13.)

31

Holland 1998, paragraph 8.

32

Montag 2012.

33

See Arthur 2002; Postone 1996.

34

Harvey 2012.

35

Harvey 2012, p. 17.

36

Endnotes 2010.

37

See Théorie Communiste 2011a and 2011b, and Lyon 2012.

39

Montag in Macherey 1998, p. 7, quoting a letter from Macherey to Althusser from 1965.

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