Haven't had enough Spinoza? Watch a panel of Spinoza scholars weigh in via a two-hour Philoctetes Center roundtable.
The video is configured so that I can't embed it here; check it out on youtube here: http://youtu.be/v29FVZ0rry8
The discussion is rambling and badly needs editing. The panelists all monologuize (worse than we do on the podcast) and (particularly near the beginning of the discussion) barely respond to each other (or when they do, it's often 20 minutes later, so you've lost the thread). So use your progress bar on this one to jump ahead (skip the first 3.5 minutes, for one; there's nothing interesting there) and check out each of the speakers, who include:
-The moderator Akeel Bilgrami (from Columbia), who is cogent (well, they all are, of course), but talks so slowly and seems more concerned with historical trends than philosophical meat (e.g. which philosophers should be considered responsible for Englightenment secularism?), so you may want to just skip over his portions.
-Steven Nader, who (at minute 23 or so) elaborates some of his positions already introduced in this video, e.g. that Spinoza is not really a pantheist.
-Jonathan Israel (Princeton), i.e. the British, bald, sour-looking guy ("one of the greatest enemies of analytic philosophy around," he calls himself), who has some interesting back-and-forth with Nadler re. whether Spinoza should be considered a materialist or a dualist (about an hour in) and makes several points about Spinoza's reputation through the history of philosophical teaching.
-Catherine Wilson (CUNY), who (at 1:07, i.e. one hour 7 minutes) gives Spinoza's position in the tradition of materialists and (around 1:38) makes a brief, interesting argument against traditional views of Descartes as a dualist.
-Joel Whitebook (Columbia), Richard Kind impersonator, who's a last minute fill-in and talks almost exclusively about the connections between Spinoza and Freud.
Overall, following Bilgrami's initial focus on the history involved, there's some interesting information here about the place of "Spinozism" in history, as a common slur, unlike Locke, who (according to Israel) was often brought out to defend the status quo in ongoing political and cultural debates.
Around 1:20, the discussion tries to turn to the emotion and neuroscience, but Bilgrami pulls it right back to politics and history. Maimonides fans, jump to around 1:58, and the most focused discussion of Spinoza as an ethicist takes place in the last 10 minutes of the discussion. Plus, Leibniz cookies!
By: Mark Linsenmayer