In this epigraph there is little to disagree with for any of the luminaries assembled in Marjorie Levinson’s intensely argued new collection of essays: from Spinoza, painstakingly evoked as precedent for what is most interesting in Romanticism, on through to Deleuze and the leading figures in “postclassical” science and mathematics. To grasp the urgency of Levinson’s wish for this way of thinking to prevail as a model for today’s critical endeavors, one need only add, as a supplement to all Pater’s active “elements,” a sense of cooperative agency, a materially embedded version of Rousseau’s general will or Kant’s intersubjectivity that governs, for example (an example frequently cited), the life of a termite mound. To this disindividuated agency, continuous in kind with its nonhuman forms, one need only attribute in turn a progressive communitarian instinct for political betterment consistent with Marx’s argument that...

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