Spinoza, Lacan

By A. Kiarina Kordela

Subjects: Critical Theory
Series: SUNY series, Insinuations: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Literature
Paperback : 9780791470206, 205 pages, January 2008
Hardcover : 9780791470190, 205 pages, February 2007

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Introduction: The Context
Postmodern "Neo-Spinozism"
Scientific "Neo-Spinozism" and Hegel
Consensual, Evolutionist "Modern Spinozism"
After the Contex
Part I. Secular Causality and Its Enjoyment
From the First Cause to Transference Causes or Reasons?
Science of Differential Substance
Secular Ontology: Differential (Non-)Substance and the End of (Anti-)Platonism
Wherein Consists the Break of Secular Modernity?
History of Differential (Non-)Substance
Ethics of Differential (Non-)Substance
From Libido to Enjoyment
A History of God in Secular Reason (From Philosophy to Non-Anti-Philosophy)
God in (or out of?) Cultural Studies
The Break of Extimacy
(Burning with) Enjoyment
God, Nobody, or Mr. Nobody?
Part II. Kant with Marx: Surplus, Or, Gaze
Commodity Fetishism: Toward an Epistemo-/Ontology of Surplus
The Rule of Representation and Sex (From Kant's Rule of Reason to Marx's Rule of Exchange-Value)
Set Theory and Being (Marx's Materialist Metaphysics)
From Absolute Knowledge to the Gaze
Is It Possible Not to Hate Representation? (Another Look at Empire)
In Lieu of an Epilogue
Another Look at Ethics, Or, Commodity and the Gaze
Cited Works

Maintains that Lacanian psychoanalysis is the proper continuation of the line of thought from Spinoza to Marx.


Opposing both popular "neo-Spinozisms" (Deleuze, Negri, Hardt, Israel) and their Lacanian critiques (Zðizûek and Badiou), Surplus maintains that Lacanian psychoanalysis is the proper continuation of the Spinozian-Marxian line of thought. Author A. Kiarina Kordela argues that both sides ignore the inherent contradictions in Spinoza's work, and that Lacan's reading of Spinoza—as well as of Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, and Wittgenstein—offers a much subtler balance of knowing when to take the philosopher at face value and when to read him against himself. Moving between abstract theory and tangible political, ethical, and literary examples, Kordela traces the emergence of "enjoyment" and "the gaze" out of Spinoza's theories of God, truth, and causality, Kant's critique of pure reason, and Marx's pathbreaking application of set theory to economy. Kordela's thought unfolds an epistemology and an ontology proper to secular capitalist modernity that call for a revision of the Spinoza-Marx-Lacan line as the sole alternative to the (anti-)Platonist tradition.

A. Kiarina Kordela is Associate Professor of German Studies at Macalester College.


"Kordela masterfully shows how Spinoza's thought jibes with the insights of psychoanalysis, especially concerning the original cause and the final cause. This book has actually forced me to reevaluate my own thinking about Spinoza and to realize that I have wrongly been associating Spinoza with the misguided neo-Spinozist reading of him." — Todd McGowan, author of The Real Gaze: Film Theory after Lacan

"From the very beginning, this book is of such intellectual power that it is capable of severe criticism of some of the most potent thinkers in the field—Zðizûek and Badiou, for example—while at the same time showing what is productive in them. Kordela has learned from them; they too have much to learn from her." — Thomas Pepper, author of Singularities: Extremes of Theory in the Twentieth Century