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Hegel and Spinoza – Towards an integral jurisprudence of political protest (Tim Wihl)

In jurisprudential theories of public assembly, one can, very roughly, distinguish between two opposing strands of thought. One is idealist and puts its emphasis on the enrichment of the collective mind and the free expression of collective imagination. The other is materialist and stresses the collective power of the crowd and its collective bodily presence. Is this a concrete example for what Pierre Macherey calls the distinction between Hegelian and Spinozist approaches to political ontology? How can, in the sense of Macherey´s inclusive “or” in his book “Hegel or Spinoza”, both be integrated or even “sublated”? In the background, the unanswered fundamental question of the role of societal collectives in democratic constitutions looms large. By Hegel and Spinoza´s providing some clues in the debates on the nature of rights in collective political action as well as on the widely diverging views of the political subject, constitutional theorists and legal practitioners might have something to learn from both.

Freie Universität Berlin
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Universität der Künste Berlin