Chapter

Leibniz on Spinoza’s Political Philosophy

Mogens Lerke

in Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy Volume VI

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659593
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745218 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199659593.003.0004

Series: Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy

Leibniz on Spinoza’s Political Philosophy

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This chapter argues that Spinoza’s political philosophy played an important role in the fact that the mature Leibniz was a strict anti-Spinozist. Leibniz’s reading of Spinoza’s political texts developed from an initial mixed reaction of both interest and scandal towards a curious exclusion of the Spinozist possibility. Indeed, there is not a single text by the mature Leibniz addressing Spinoza’s political philosophy. In order to overcome this textual problem, and establish the parameters for a confrontation between the two philosophers on the issue of political philosophy, the chapter considers how Leibniz and Spinoza respectively approached Hobbes’ theory of natural right and contract theory. This interpretive triangulation allows determining with some plausibility what stance Leibniz took with regard to Spinoza’s political philosophy in spite of the fact that he never actually stated it explicitly.

Keywords: Benedictus Spinoza; G.W. Leibniz; Thomas Hobbes; natural law; natural right; contract theory; political theory

Chapter.  13832 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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