Anticipating next weeks interview with Prof. Andrea Sangiacomo, the third instalment of the Spinoza Sessions in our Thuistezien program, we propose a stirring and courageous exploration of how Spinoza’s thinking can help us encounter the profound challenges of our time. Presenting at our symposium Passionate Reason last year, one of the foremost Spinoza scholars alive today, Dr. Moira Gatens grapples with the questions of why people so often act against their best interest. Why, in the light of science and all good reason, it is so difficult for us to effectively, change bad habits, address racism and structural injustice and imminent dangers such as climate change?
Moira Gatens explains through Spinoza, the important of acknowledging the dissonance between our personal feelings, though perhaps mistaken, still relevant and far more intimate than any new information we may receive from outside. It is not through discounting our fallibility but by integrating it in our pursuit of emancipated activity, what Spinoza called ‘joy’, that we can better care for ourselves, for each other and for our world.
Moira Gatens is Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney and Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her work examines the feminist, emancipatory interpretations and potentials of Spinoza’s philosophy and their implications for personal and collective political agency, corporality and diversity today. Gatens previously held the Spinoza Chair at the University of Amsterdam.