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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy


published on July 21, 2015

James Luchte
DOI: 10.5840/epoche201571743

Of Freedom
Heidegger and Spinoza

In this essay, I will explore the much neglected relationship between Heidegger and Spinoza—and thus of Heidegger and the modern sense of freedom. The free man, for Spinoza, is one who has not only cultivated the stronger active emotion of acquiescence to the univocal chorus of necessity, but has also learned to disengage external factors which are coincident with such passive emotions—to organise an ‘order of encounters’ as Deleuze describes in his Expressionism. Heidegger, on the contrary, who undertakes a meditation upon ‘Spinozism’ in the context of his 1936 lecture course, Schelling’s Treatise on Freedom, would seem to take issue with Spinoza in his own contention that the one who faces his or her ownmost possibility of death without evasion, is the one who is most free—or, who will have found him or herself in a moment that discloses the necessity of one’s own singular freedom. It will be in the context of this divergence between substance and event that I will argue that Spinoza’s notion of freedom as it consists in the acquiescence to substance is a falsification of human existence for the sake of a hedonistic escapism.