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School of Politics and International Relations

International Seminar Series – Identity, Alterity, Monstrosity 2

26 March 2014

Time: 5:00 - 7:00pm
Venue: ArtsTwo Building, Room 3.16

This series of seminars will focus on the radical alterity represented since the 17th century by the theoretical figure of the multitude. Hobbes, for example, develops the idea of the Leviathan’s sovereign body through the homogeneous unity of the people. By definition, the people is opposed to the conflictual multiplicity of the multitude in the state of nature. In contrast, Spinoza grounds the idea of a free State on the multitude’s conatus—its drive to actualize its own nature—and its right of resistance against the sovereign. This right is irreducible and monstrous, thus introducing the natural dimension into the State rather than excluding it from society.

While Hobbes confined the multitude to the edges of the political map, with Spinoza it takes the centre of the stage, becoming the beating and conflictual heart of political life. Starting with the indirect dialogue between these two authors, we will focus this year on radical and monstrous alterity—the sense of otherness and how that is defined—in early modern and contemporary thought.

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