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Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

Susan James

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698127
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740558 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698127.001.0001
Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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Susan James offers an interpretation of a work that is itself about interpretation Spinoza's Theologico‐Political Treatise. By setting the Treatise in its seventeenth‐century Dutch context, and identifying the wide range of philosophical, theological, hermeneutic, historical, and political debates to which Spinoza was responding, she elucidates the character of his argument and the ends it was designed to achieve. Although the Treatise engages with many opponents, the most central because most powerful were the conservative theologians of the Dutch Reformed Church and their political allies, who continued to oppose Cartesian philosophy throughout Spinoza's lifetime, and resisted what was known as the freedom to philosophize. Appealing both to philosophical arguments that he develops in more detail in the Ethics, and to a theory of biblical interpretation, Spinoza aims to comprehensively discredit the Church's theological doctrines. At the same time, he sets out to undercut its political commitment to a mixed constitution where power is divided between secular and religious authorities. In the United Provinces, Spinoza claims, the best way to secure freedom is to uphold a republican form of government in which the people are sovereign, and where, within certain limits, individuals are free to worship and philosophize as they wish. At first glance, the sinuous argument of the Treatise appears to lack unity, and many commentators focus on one part of it at the expense of others. Once its context is taken into account, however, it emerges as an integrated defence of philosophical, religious, and political freedom, firmly situated within the framework of Spinoza's philosophical system.

Keywords: Spinoza; philosophy; religion; politics; hermeneutics; Theologico‐Political Treatise; Ethics; freedom

Book.  360 pages. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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Spinoza's Project in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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The Meaning of Prophecy in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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What Divine Law Is Not in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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What Divine Law Is in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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Worship in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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The Meaning of Scripture in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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Putting the Interpretative Method to Work in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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True Religion in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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Theology and Philosophy in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

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