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Spinoza's critique of religion and its heirs - Idit Dobbs-Weinstein

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Spinoza's critique of religion and its heirs - Marx, Benjamin, Adorno
Idit Dobbs-Weinstein
Cambridge University Press
UK Publication Date

Spinoza's heritage has been occluded by his incorporation into the single, western, philosophical canon formed and enforced by theologico-political condemnation, and his heritage is further occluded by controversies whose secular garb shields their religious origins. By situating Spinoza's thought in a materialist Aristotelian tradition, this book sheds new light on those who inherit Spinoza's thought and its consequences materially and historically rather than metaphysically. By focusing on Marx, Benjamin, and Adorno, Idit Dobbs-Weinstein explores the manner in which Spinoza's radical critique of religion shapes materialist critiques of the philosophy of history. Dobbs-Weinstein argues that two radically opposed notions of temporality and history are at stake for these thinkers, an onto-theological future-oriented one and a political one oriented to the past for the sake of the present or, more precisely, for the sake of actively resisting the persistent barbarism at the heart of culture.

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Idit Dobbs-Weinstein is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee. She is the author of Maimonides and St Thomas on the Limits of Reason and coeditor of Maimonides and his Heritage (with Lenn E. Goodman and James A. Grady). Her work has appeared in such journals as Epoch and Idealistic Studies.

'For Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Spinoza is neither the secular liberal he is for Jonathan Israel and Steven Nadler, nor the anatomist of power he is for Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. He is, rather, the first critical theorist. In support of this interpretation, she places Spinoza in a materialist tradition that privileges praxis over theoria. This tradition includes Aristotle, Averroes and Maimonides on the one hand, and Marx, Benjamin and Adorno on the other. At its centre is Spinoza's critique of religion, the political significance of which lies, for Dobbs-Weinstein, in the resistance to all forms of teleology rather than in the establishment of a public sphere.' Andrew Cutrofello, Loyola University, Chicago

'This signal intervention demonstrates Spinoza's profound significance for Marx, Benjamin and Adorno. In a striking tour-de-force, Dobbs-Weinstein shows how many of the critical motives in Marx, Benjamin and Adorno gain their full thrust when seen in the context of the seminal role Spinoza plays in Marx and how the engaged and intense discussions between Benjamin and Adorno bear out the critical force of this legacy. Dobbs-Weinstein's book is an engagingly argued study that highlights the deep and hidden but decisive presence of Spinoza's thought in critical theory.' Willi Goetschel, University of Toronto

Keyword Index
Religion - Philosophy.|History - Philosophy.
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages
xiii, 275

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