The Strange Hybridity of Spinoza's <i>Ethics</i>

Catherine Wilson

in Early Modern Philosophy

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195177602
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835553 | DOI:
 The Strange Hybridity of Spinoza's Ethics

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This chapter shows how Spinoza's severe ontology is at odds with his commitment to the general ethical program. It then tries to explain why, as a recent commentator expresses it, “Spinoza's ethical theory has been historically less influential than the ethical theories of such early modern philosophers as Hume and Kant”. However, the same commentator suggests that “in its naturalism, its practical rationalism, its asymmetrical conception of moral freedom and responsibility, its nonretributivism, its emphasis on virtue as well as consequences, and its close relations to social and political theory, it is a forerunner of and of special relevance to contemporary trends in ethical theorizing”. It is argued that the vector of contemporary moral theory is irreversibly pointed away from Spinozism and shares few assumptions with it.

Keywords: ethical theory; moral freedom; responsibility; contemporary moral theory; Spinoza

Chapter.  9283 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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