Hobbes and Spinoza

Term: Fall 2010

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6113


The aim of these lectures is to introduce students to Hobbes and Spinoza by focusing on their theory of imagination.  Many interpreters have underlined the similarities between Hobbes and Spinoza, particularly between their political philosophies. During this course, we will set up a more general comparison, by underlining both the similarities and the differences of their approaches to imagination, which particularly emerge when situating their views within their more general philosophical systems and their respective historical contexts.

What is imagination? What role does it play in our lives? How does it relate to passions and reason respectively? Is imagination a source of oppression or a means for emancipation? These lectures address such questions by focusing mainly on Hobbes' Leviathan and Spinoza's Ethics (but including passages from other works where appropriate). In doing so, we will explore the epistemological, the moral and the political aspects of their theories of imagination.

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