Spinoza

A distinctive way of understanding equality can be found in the texts of seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Equalities of Wellbeing aims to show how Spinoza grounds the concept of equality in proportion. This gives Spinoza’s concept of equality its connection to architectural thought. Better understanding of this concept can help us to think about its significance for increasing equalities of wellbeing through affordable housing design.

Spinoza’s philosophy is distinctive in linking human flourishing to a concept of equality that can enable these kinds of wellbeing to come about. The dominant philosophical concept of equality is based on the assumption of autonomous rational subjects as moral equals. This has been foundational in arguments for political equality and universal rights, but while liberal democracies have increased political equalities between citizens, they have become less equal in terms of income distribution and show no rise in levels of wellbeing over the last fifty years (see, e.g., Wilkinson and Pickett, The Spirit Level, 2009).

Spinoza’s philosophy presents an alternative to ‘moral equality’ and suggests that we look to the idea of proportion to ground greater equality of wellbeing. Proportion is interesting because it allows for difference and diversity within equality. Our research explores the links between proportion, equality, difference, and wellbeing in Spinoza’s metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political thought.

  • Beth Lord is researching the concept of equality in Spinoza’s political works, in the context of historical and contemporary arguments about interest, debt, and income inequality.
  • Later in the project Lord plans to research Spinoza’s interrelated concepts of ratio, similitude, analogy, and proportion in the Ethics.
  • What counts as an individual for Spinoza, and can we differentiate this from a notion of selfhood? Using Spinoza’s Ethics Tiff Thomas will be questioning the possibility of creating a Spinozist subject through an understanding of the aesthetic life – an area of philosophy that is curiously missing from Spinoza’s own thinking.