Love, Hatred, and Self-Preservation in Descartes’s
Passions of the Soul and Spinoza’s Theory of the Affects
| RIVISTA DI FILOSOFIA NEO-SCOLASTICA - 2020 - 2. Ethica e Passions de l’âme
Spinoza con e contro Descartes
Descartes and Spinoza carry forward elements of a longstanding folk-psychology of love and hatred from the scholastics – that love and hatred are ‘natural’ passions, teleologically ordered, together, to self-preservation (or perseverance). Descartes recasts this psychology of love and hatred, in the Passions of the Soul, in functional terms that already ambiguate the role that hatred plays in self-preservation. Spinoza takes up Descartes reconfiguration of the relationship of love and hatred in the Passions of the Soul, and infers that hatred has no necessary role in securing self-preservation (or perseverance). Spinoza’s dissolution of the necessary coimplication of love and hatred, as it is figured in the longstanding folk-psychology, yields rival images of agency. In Spinoza’s view, hatred is a pathology of agency, a symptom of impotence of ‘animation’, in contrast to the view that hatred is ‘basic’ emotion that is constitutive of agency in that it can motivate resistance to threats to self-preservation and flourishing.