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Frédéric Lordon: The Affect of Politics (Thinking our Times with Spinoza)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Orozco Room, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall 66 West 12th Street, Room A712, New York, NY 10011

Please join Liberal Studies at The New School for Social Research in welcoming Frédéric Lordon, as he presents his talk "The Affect of Politics (Thinking our Times with Spinoza)." 

The idea that emotions matter in politics is a common place. Nonetheless, it could be immediately objected that despite the prevalence of emotions, we should not discard the fact that politics is above all, if not "essentially", a matter of ideas, values, principles or rational argumentation. The concept of "affect" in Spinoza's philosophy overcomes this tedious antinomy insofar as it gives the most general characterization of the effect produced by one thing on another. If affects are the real engine of politics, they can nowhere be better seen than in crisis times. Institutions are supported by affects, and they prevail and impose their norms only as long as they succeed in properly affecting people. Conversely, they are in danger whenever the formation of a common opposite affect causes people to break with the institution rules. Political crises, uprisings and what we will generally call, following Spinoza, "seditions", appear then as a bifurcation in the dynamics of the collective affects.

Frédéric Lordon is an economist and Director of Research at the CNRS, Paris. He is the author of many works including Willing Slaves of Capital: Marx and Spinoza on Desire, published by Verso Books in 2014.

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