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Ending the exile of desire in Spinoza and Hegel

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2007
Cengiz, Övünç
The main objective of this master’s thesis is to analyze the place assigned to the phenomenon of desire by Hegel and Spinoza, and to show that the main difference between two philosophers in terms of their understanding of desire and human phenomenon consists in their understanding of the relation between the substance and particulars. In order to fulfill the requirements of this objective, what is focused on is, as different from a certain philosophical thought excluding desire from a true account of human phenomenon due to two aspects of desire, namely being an immediate drive and being purely self-referential, which are not regarded as being capable of explaining the specific distinctness of human being, how Spinoza and Hegel give an account of desire, and how they conceive mentioned aspects of desire. Throughout the thesis, first Spinoza’s ontology, as it is elaborated in the Ethics, and the place of the phenomenon of desire in this ontology are explained. Then through an analysis of the fourth chapter of the Phenomenology of Spirit, it is argued that Hegel’s conception of desire enables one to conceive the distinctive human institutions such as sociality, morality, and etc., as derivatives of desire. Finally it is argued that, since Hegel conceives the relation between the substance and particulars as a total detachment, he is able to give the spiritual dimension of human phenomenon in terms of desire. In this way moreover the specific distinctness of the human phenomenon is preserved in the philosophy of Hegel.