Life in a Republic: The Lessons of Philosophy

Susan James

in Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion, and Politics

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698127
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740558 | DOI:
 							Life in a Republic: The Lessons of Philosophy

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Living a religious life of the kind Spinoza has described is a theologico‐political enterprise, and depends on the existence of some sort of political community. Focusing on republics, the Treatise asks how this kind of state can best create secure and peaceful conditions in which individuals can live religiously and philosophise freely. Spinoza's discussion begins with an idealized, philosophical account of the process by which rational individuals can freely submit to a sovereign, this forming a state. While he draws heavily on the views of Hobbes, this chapter explores his distinctive treatment of the right of nature, the social contract and sovereign power. Political power or right, as Spinoza envisages it, consists in a balance of the powers held by the sovereign and its subjects, each of which is dependent on the other, and each of which is sustained by fictional narratives such as the story of a social contract.

Keywords: theologico‐politics; republic; right of nature; state of nature; state; contract; slavery; political power; Hobbes

Chapter.  13765 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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