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The Spinoza-Machiavelli Encounter

Time and Occasion

Vittorio Morfino
Translated by Dave Mesing
Preface by Etienne Balibar

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An exhaustive account of the Spinoza–Machiavelli relationship and its relevance for contemporary philosophy

Vittorio Morfino draws out the implications of the dynamic Spinoza–Machiavelli encounter by focusing on the concepts of causality, temporality and politics. This allows him to think through the relationship between ontology and politics, leading to an understanding of history as a complex and plural interweaving of different rhythms.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Introduction: Unscripted Space, Devoured Time

Translator's Note and Acknowledgements


  1. Machiavelli in Spinoza's Library and Texts
  2. Machiavelli's Implicit Presence in Spinoza's Texts
  3. Causality and Temporality Between Machiavelli and Spinoza
  4. Machiavelli and Spinoza: Theory of the Individual as Antiphilosophy of History


About the Author

Vittorio Morfino is an Associate Professor in the History of Philosophy at the University of Milan-Bicocca and Director of programme at the Collège International de Philosophie, Paris. He has published extensively on Spinoza, Machiavelli, Marx, German Idealism, Leibniz and Althusser. His most recent book is Plural Temporality: Transindividuality and the Aleatory Between Spinoza and Althusser (Brill, 2014).


The relationship with Machiavelli is not just an element of Spinoza’s ethico-political research, but a deep thread that spans the whole Spinozist metaphysics. Following this thread reveals unexpected inteterpretative opportunities. Morfino offers a highly original understanding of the interweaving of natural causality and historical time, finding in the relation between the two philosophers a new germination of political realism and an anti-humanist concept of eternity. This interweaving opens up a new space of possibilities for the history – and future – of individuals and institutions. Does Spinoza offer, then, a paradoxical philosophy of history? Potentially, but only if we read it as a reflection on the aleatory connection between freedom and necessity and a route toward an open horizon. Drawing on his profound understanding of Machiavelli and Spinoza, Morfino not only offers a new historiographic frame for these two fundamental thinkers, but a strong and effective critical approach that brings these new possibilities closer.

- Toni Negri, Euronomade

A first book, and a masterful strike! This rigorous investigation, based on careful textual readings and imaginative interpretations, beautifully demonstrates how the "encounter" reverberates on both sides. Politics, history, ontology of time form the multiple dimensions of a dialogic production of ideas which, for 500 years now, never ceased to question the dominant representations of modernity.

- Étienne Balibar, Author of Spinoza and Politics

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