Common Capacities, Differing Vulnerabilities – a Study of Vulnerability in the Light of Spinoza’s Philosophical Anthropology
In my research I study vulnerability as an ontological-political concept. I take vulnerability to be a necessary feature of human condition, although it is politically produced and socially unequally distributed. Furthermore, vulnerability is deployed for political ends: involving normative claims it is used to make demands against privileges but also in order to conserve them. Yet, I argue that the different articulations of vulnerability, for instance, as a productive state, as an expression of disempowerment or lack and as an identity-political denominator express differing ontological conceptions of human nature, identity and politics. Drawing from Baruch Spinoza’s philosophical anthropology and its contemporary developments I analyse vulnerability through the notion of capacity: in what ways vulnerability structures and strengthens human capacities and how it damages them; what implications vulnerability has on agency; what kind of affects, both empowering and disempowering, are related to vulnerable states; how does vulnerability generate knowledge and communal ties of care and cooperation.
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