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Samuel Beckett's How It IsPhilosophy in Translation$
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Anthony Cordingley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440608

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440608.001.0001

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Spinoza, Leibniz or a World ‘less exquisitely organized’

Spinoza, Leibniz or a World ‘less exquisitely organized’

(p.220) 7 Spinoza, Leibniz or a World ‘less exquisitely organized’
Samuel Beckett's How It Is

Anthony Cordingley

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter concludes the investigation by detailing the way that Beckett’s narrator/narrator weighs up a philosophy of imminence (Spinoza) against a philosophy of transcendence (Leibniz). A new reading of Beckett’s relationship to these preeminent Rationalists is sustained through an examination of the Comment c’est notebooks and Beckett’s “Philosophy Notes”, and other works, such as, Endgame. A deep affinity is discovered between Beckett’s work and Spinoza’s uncompromising attack on the Judeo-Christian transcendentalism and anthropomorphism, which complicates the interpretation of Beckett’s most Leibnizian passages in the third and final Part of How It Is, when Beckett’s “I” attempts unsuccessfully to give a Rationalist account of his own cosmology. The dialectic Beckett fashions between Spinoza Leibniz amplifies the wide range of philosophical concerns detailed over the preceding chapters of this book. His novel use of Leibniz’s mathematics, in particular the calculus of infinitesimals, is revealed as source of a number of philosophical images that interact with other philosophical tropes to interrogate the nature of reality and the divine, and the claim to represent with reason the relationships between each. Mathematics emerges, in Beckett’s text, as a symbolic language transformed into an original, poetic order that expresses the complex and often paradoxical aesthetic questions of authorship, character and textuality.

Keywords:   Samuel Beckett, Metaphysics, Endgame, Leibniz, Monadology, Spinoza, Ethics, Mathematics, Infinitesimals, Calculus

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