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Another Enlightenment: Spinoza on Myth and Imagination.
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Lecture by Professor Chiara Bottici of The New School at the CUNY Graduate School

When: Thursday, Sept. 28
Where: CUNY GC, Room 5414
Contact: Joseph Bowling
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Please join us for a talk by Professor Chiara Bottici (The New School) on Friday, Sept. 28 at 2 pm at the CUNY GC in room 5414:

Another Enlightenment: Spinoza on Myth and Imagination.

In their Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer observe that the Enlightenment constitutes itself by rejecting myth as subjective. Yet, once the Enlightenment has dominated the entire world with its abstract categories, it cannot but turn into pure subjectivity, and thus into myth. How can we escape such a negative dialectic? The aim of this investigation is to show that Spinoza's theory of myth and imagination provides us with the tools for doing so. Despite being an Enlightenment thinker, Spinoza distances himself from all the presuppositions of the negative dialectic described by Adorno and Horkheimer. To show this, I will first say a few words on what it means to be "within" the dialectic of Enlightenment, by focusing on the ontological and epistemological assumptions that led Kant, together with other theorists of the Enlightenment, to fully endorse it (§. 1). I will then explore Spinoza's peculiar understanding of imagination, by first focusing on its ontological and epistemological aspects (§. 2), and, subsequently, on their ethical and political consequences (§. 3, 4). It is Spinoza's peculiar ontology that enables him to recognize that myth and imagination are already a form of Enlightenment, because they play a crucial cognitive, ethical and political role. This will also shed some light on why Spinoza can be considered as the initiator of "another Enlightenment" and thus fruitfully be used to rethink the role of critical theory today.

Sept 28
2 pm
The Graduate Center
Room 5414

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