Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"[A]ccording to the arguments advanced in the Ethics, the world of readers, like the world of philosophy itself, cannot be divided into opposing camps as Plato imagined in the Sophist, fixed and stable in their opposition: the camp of enlightenment versus the camp of superstition, or the camp of reason versus the camp of unreason. If it remains possible to speak of camps, it is necessary to observe that the same man may at one moment belong to the camp of reason and at another to the camp of superstition; the same man may even belong, to the extent that he is animated by conflicting desires and beliefs, to both camps simultaneously. For given the fact that, as Spinoza puts it elsewhere in the Ethics, 'all men are liable to superstition', the opposing tendencies in philosophy do not so much set one man against another, one group against another, as every man against himself. Superstition, moreover, can dominate the mind of a man, even the most rational, that is, even Spinoza himself (in the face of external causes of overwhelming power), without his knowledge or acquiescence. In short, to invert Hegel, superstition does not always take a superstitious form, while rationality is always temporary and reversible, its domination of a man's mind, dependent on an equilibrium of internal and external forces, all too easily upset, necessarily precarious." - Warren Montag, Bodies, Masses, Power

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