Chapter

Spinoza on the Relativity of Good and Evil

Charles Jarrett

in Spinoza: Metaphysical Themes

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780195128154
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786008 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019512815X.003.0009
 Spinoza on the Relativity of Good and Evil

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This essay argues that Spinoza sees good and evil as relative in at least three ways. It distinguishes between speaker-relativity, correlativity, and model-relativity. It considers the conceptual and interpretative problems arising in two arguments of the Ethics: one argument attempts to show that rationality is a maximizing principle, that is, that a rational individual will choose the best option available, even among distasteful or bad ones; the other attempts to show that anyone who always had adequate ideas would be incapable of conceiving of goodness. It is shown that both arguments appear to have a confusion of one type of relativity with another.

Keywords: Spinoza; relativity; good; evil; rationality

Chapter.  13575 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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