Franny Deleuze

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    Whether or not to treat Spinoza like a dead dog was actually a serious question for European philosophers, and in some cases, as with Hegel, who feared being mistaken for Spinoza, a genuine source of anxiety. After all, the worst thing that can happen to a philosopher in love with absolute being is to end up in the same gutter as a Jew. The fear of formlessness, of ending up with nothing more than a gaping mouth or hole, a dark abyss into which all differences sink, is always linked to the confused fear of soiling oneself and the public denunciation that would necessarily follow. Accused by his own peers of having dissolved the world into the undifferentiated, the philosopher feels as abject as the man who walks through the city with his face covered in filth, offered up unreservedly to the heinous scorn of the bourgeois. This is why he is so concerned about his reputation. He measures the value of his work by the respect he receives in the street. Anyone who aspires to a career in this field, although they may not be scabby and filthy to start with, will always face the possibility of a sudden fall into the muck of the gutter. For philosophers are no more prepared to give way to those who would take the same path as them than Christians are wont to share their pavement with a Jew.…