Spinoza on Passions and Self-Knowledge: The Case of Pride

Lilli Alanen

in Emotion and Cognitive Life in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199579914
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745959 | DOI:
Spinoza on Passions and Self-Knowledge: The Case of Pride

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The questions of identity and self-knowledge are crucial to Spinoza's general project of emancipation through knowledge, but they have received little attention in the literature. Spinoza's ethical project is to free us — our individual selves — from bondage by passions that are fed by the imagination, the lowest level of cognition. Is the cognitive agent whose activity is supposed to free us from the passions the same individual self that suffers them? The latter, for Spinoza, is revealed to us through the passions, notably through the passions of pride and self-esteem whose object it is. This paper considers how the problem of the self and self-cognition comes up in Spinoza's account of the passions. Its main focus is on his account of pride [superbia] and how this passion, while making us aware of our individual self, at the same time obscures it from a proper cognitive grasp.

Keywords: Spinoza; passions; affects; self; self-knowledge; pride; self-esteem; freedom; bondage

Chapter.  12166 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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