Producing marks of distinction: hilaritas and devotion as singular virtues in Spinoza’s aesthetic festival

Textual Practice 34:1-18 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Spinoza’s concepts of wonder, the imitation of affects, cheerfulness, and devotion provide the basis for a Spinozist aesthetics. Those concepts from his Ethics, when combined with his account of rituals and festivals in the Theological-Political Treatise and his Political Treatise, reveal an aesthetics of social affects. The repetition of ritualised participatory aesthetic practices over time generates a unique ingenium or way of life for a social group, a singular style which distinguishes them from the general political body. Ritual and the imitation of affects explain why specific styles of art are associated with consistent styles of bodily modifications, clothing, and affects. This paper claims, not that already similar people flock to the same art, but rather, that immersion in the same art is what produces their similarity. Art (especially in the immersive, festival-like experience of live performance) can generate the affect of devotion, which intensifies in-group love, temporarily blocks affects of sadness, and focusses one intently on the aesthetic experience due to devotion’s connection to wonder. Cheerfulness shows that, through variation of aesthetic objects, art can cause pleasure without risking excess. In addition, while politics’ central affect is sad fear, aesthetically-united groups are bound by joyful affects.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

A Spinozist Aesthetics of Affect and Its Political Implications.Christopher Davidson - 2017 - In Gábor Boros, Judit Szalai & Oliver Istvan Toth (eds.), The Concept of Affectivity in Early Modern Philosophy. Budapest, Hungary: Eötvös Loránd University Press. pp. 185-206.
We Do Not Yet Know What the Law Can Do.Alexandre Lefebvre - 2006 - Contemporary Political Theory 5 (1):52-67.
Imitation, Representation, and Humanity in Spinoza’s Ethics.Justin Steinberg - 2013 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 51 (3):383-407.
The Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms: Miracles, Monotheism, and Reason in Spinoza.Michael LeBuffe - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (2):318-332.
Inleiding tot de affectleer van Spinoza.De H. Dijn - 1977 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 39:399-408.
The Power of the Affects.Alejandro E. de Acosta - 2002 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton
Love and Possession: Towards a Political Economy of Ethics 5.Hasana Sharp - 2009 - North American Spinoza Society Monograph 14:1-19.
The Enigma of Spinoza's Amor Dei Intellectualis.Yitzhak Melamed - 2019 - In Noa Naaman (ed.), Descartes and Spinoza on the Passions. Cambridge University Press. pp. 222-238.
Spinoza's relativistic aesthetics.Lee C. Rice - 1996 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 58 (3):476 - 489.


Added to PP

354 (#59,417)

6 months
84 (#60,753)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Christopher Davidson
Ball State University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references