The Affects By Which We Are Torn: Four Essays on Government and Affect

Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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Abstract

This dissertation strives to expand the current state of our understanding of governmentality by exploring and substantiating a distinct affective register of governmentality. To corroborate the relationship between government and af-fect, the present study takes its point of departure in Foucault’s history of governmentality and contends that Spinoza’s political philosophy of affect fur-nishes the focal point for a novel articulation of an art of conducting individuals through their desires and affects. Given the multiplicity of aspects disclosed by a consideration of the relationship between government and affect, each of the dissertation’s four essays reconstructs a particular governmental problematic in each of Spinoza’s mature works to generate new insights for social, political, and organizational theories of affect. The first essay inquires into the rationality that informs the government of affects; its so-called ratio gubernandi. It demon-strates that a series of thinkers in the 17th century rationalized the art of governing by applying the conceptual tools of geometry to an anatomico-metaphysical conception of human desire (conatus). It suggests that this govern-ment of affect should accordingly be understood in an anatomo-political register rather than a bio-political one. The second essay strives to refine and advance this anatomo-political conceptualization of affective governmentality by articulating it from the perspective of pastoral power, that is, in terms of a ‘government of souls’ or regimen animarum. Through an original interpretation of Spinoza’s study of the Hebrew Republic, it argues that ceremonies and rituals function as governmental technologies that cultivate desired affects by causing them to become intense and durable. The third essay turns its gaze to the ques-tion of affective self-government. It proposes that the generally overlooked affective constitution which Spinoza calls ‘vacillation of mind’ renders certain techniques possible by which sad affects can be countervailed or conquered by stronger affects that cause joy. Finally, the fourth essay contributes more specif-ically to current engagements with affect in organization theory by introducing the transindividual, analytical concept of ‘affective complexion’ or ‘ingenium’ to the study of affect in organizations and by advocating for the methodological purchase gained by considering affects in light of Spinoza’s psychophysical framework. In sum, the dissertation presents an original study of affective gov-ernmentality.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages268
ISBN (Print)9788775682119
ISBN (Electronic)9788775682126
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesPhD Series
Number34.2023
ISSN0906-6934

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