Rethinking Ideology from Spinoza to Hegel
The aim of this dissertation is to define and defend a viable concept of ideology. I seek to do this by situating myself within the nexus of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics and G.W. F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. I argue that ideology is best understood in terms of self-contradictory fields of individuation or what I am calling ideological fields. Specifically, I argue that fields of individuation aim at practical unity, which I suggest is always already transgressive. Ideological fields are self-contradictory with respect to this aim, i.e., they preclude their own possibility of attaining practical unity. Importantly I go on to suggested that ideological fields are self-contradictory not only with respect to one’s ability to find practical unity but also insofar as the concept one seeks to realize and come to be one with is itself self-contradictory. The criterion for judging fields of individuation as self-contradictory, i.e., ideological is the presence or lack of institutions of mutual recognition. Thus a practice of individuation that precludes the possibility of mutual recognition is, on my account, self-defeating. I further suggested that ideological fields are moved by pathological desire, which I argued is the movement of other negation or abstract independence. Ultimately, I suggest that ideological fields of individuation are the necessary but not sufficient condition of social domination and oppression.