Being affected: spinoza and the psychology of emotion

Steven D. Brown, Paul Stenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes the relevance of Spinoza's Ethics for contemporary thought on the psychology of emotion. Spinoza's account of the passions completely inverts the Cartesian primacy given to mind. For Spinoza the critical task is to formulate an ethics of knowing, which begins with an understanding that body and mind are two attributes of the same substance. Increasing the capacity of the body to both be affected and affect others is the means by which the knowing subject progresses. The article sketches out the key concepts involved in this system and shows how they sensitize us to a post-cognitive understanding of emotion in Proust's Swann's Way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-105
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Group Tensions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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