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What can bodies do? Reading Spinoza for an affective ethics of organizational life
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies, Fashion Studies.
2015 (English)In: Organization, ISSN 1350-5084, E-ISSN 1461-7323, Vol. 22, no 2, 235-250 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent attempts to develop an embodied understanding of ethics in organizations have tended to mobilize a Levinasian and “im/possible” ethics of recognition, which separates ethics and embodiment from politics and organization. We argue that this separation is unrealistic, unsustainable, and an unhelpful starting point for an embodied ethics of organizations. Instead of rescuing and modifying the ethics of recognition, we propose an embodied ethics of organizational life through Spinoza’s affective ethics. Neither a moral rule system nor an infinite duty to recognize the other, Spinoza offers a theory of the good, powerful and joyful life by asking what bodies can do. Rather than an unrestrained, irresponsible and individualistic quest for power and freedom, this suggests that we enhance our capacities to affect and be affected by relating to a variety of different bodies. We first scrutinize recent attempts to develop an ethics of recognition and embodiment in organization studies. We then explore key concepts and central arguments of Spinozian ethics. Finally, we discuss what a Spinozian ethics means for the theory and practice of embodied ethics in organizational life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Sage Publications, 2015. Vol. 22, no 2, 235-250 p.
Keyword [en]
affect, diversity in organization, embodied ethics, freedom, power, recognition, Spinoza
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Ethics; Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107265DOI: 10.1177/1350508414558725ISI: 000350489000006OAI: diva2:770914
Available from: 2014-12-11 Created: 2014-09-08 Last updated: 2015-04-07Bibliographically approved

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Thanem, TorkildWallenberg, Louise
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