In this review, I outline Lærke's interpretation of Spinoza's freedom of philosophizing as a rich, positive freedom, encompassing but extending far beyond mere legal permission for free expression. Lærke's book takes on the challenge to explain how such freedom is to be brought about. I suggest that Lærke's reconstruction overlooks a central plank of Spinoza's approach: the role of good institutional design in supporting freedom. The longer version is the original author submission; the shorter version was trimmed on the journal's (...) request. (shrink)
_The Autobiography of Malcolm X_ highlights the eponymous subject’s conversion from aimless rage and criminality to a form of militant study while in prison, a conversion dedicated to understanding the societal foundations of power and racial inequality. Central to this understanding is the idea that new philosophical perspectives and ‘thought-patterns’ are necessary to reprogramme dominant or ‘brainwashed’ mindsets towards organising political resistance. In this article, I explore Malcolm X’s concepts of ‘conversion’ and ‘prison’, identifying them, not only as mere spatiotemporal (...) locations, but also as larger frames in which Malcolm conceives of domination and freedom. I identify Malcolm’s three-aspect account of domination through which radical education and mental liberation drive his project of Black nationalism. I then consider the significance of an unexpected ally invoked by Malcolm: the 17th century philosopher Benedict de Spinoza, described as a ‘Black Spanish Jew’ and presented as an oppositional figure to the western philosophical canon. While this alliance is partly rhetorical, if overlooked, both work through problems of ‘epistemic agency’ and ‘democratic civic agency’ as vital for ameliorating domination and enhancing freedom. Malcolm and Spinoza offer distinct but significant contributions to ideas of domination and freedom in terms of both an individual and a collective capacity to think and act. (shrink)
Over the last years, some of Spinoza studies have shifted to a consideration of the relational character of his ethics by focusing on the notion of autonomy. This concept is foreign to Spinoza's vocabulary. Therefore, I will attempt to explain what Spinozan relational autonomy is and its connection with the most important ethical concept in his philosophy: freedom. Following considerations about Spinozan freedom, I claim that it entails a relational character and that, for this reason, it is equal to relational (...) autonomy. We are free when our joint action is based on adequate ideas of what we have in common with others. (shrink)
This study considers freedom of speech and the rules of engagement in the public sphere; good government, civic responsibility, and public education; and the foundations of religion and society, as seen through the eyes of seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher, Spinoza.
Contemporary political theory has increasingly attended to the inevitability, and even advantage, of hypocrisy in liberal democratic politics, but less consideration has been given to the social and psychological repercussions of this ubiquitous phenomenon. This article recovers Baruch Spinoza and Pierre Bayle’s critiques of hypocritical conformity to demonstrate that their influential theories of toleration and freedom were shaped considerably by concerns with enforced conformity. Reframing Spinoza and Bayle as theorists of hypocrisy, moreover, suggests that recent redemptive accounts of hypocrisy in (...) political theory overlook deeper and arguably more discerning anxieties about a politics characterized by hypocrisy, specifically the deleterious effects of social mistrust and psychological distress. (shrink)
It is often put forward that the entire political project of epicureanism consists in the overcoming of fear, whereby its scope is deemed to be very narrow. I argue that the overcoming of the fear of death should actually be linked to a conception of freedom in epicureanism. This idea is further developed by Spinoza, who defines the free man as one who thinks of death least of all in the Ethics, and who develops this idea more in the Theological (...) Political Treatise. (shrink)
La grande difficulté du spinozisme est à rechercher dans le langage. Il y a au moins partout deux langages, l'un philosophique que l'on emploie rarement, et l'autre propre à la langue vulgaire. Nous pourrissons le spéculatif par le vulgaire et nous rendons impie la langue commune par l'intrusion du spéculatif. Comment gouverner le démon du langage? Ce qu'il faut en tout premier lieu discerner, c'est la qualité intime qui confère au langage la possibilité de tromper. Si l'on songe, de plus, (...) que le langage est le lien indéfectible de la communauté humaine, on verra son étude se relier aux synthèses principielles de la politique saisie à l'intérieur de l'encyclopédie spinoziste. À cela s'ajoute la liaison à l'erreur. Un blasphème n'est pas seulement une faute, c'est aussi une erreur, et la théorie de l'erreur est la refondation du système spinoziste capable de chasser l'erreur de partout, et donc de l'Éthique tout entière. Spinoza, pas plus que Fichte, n'acceptera la disjonction du faire (Tun) et du dire (Sagen) –?la morale est enracinée dans la linguistique, et naturellement la théorie de la vérité conforte ces alliances. La bonne lecture doit passer de la langue à la parole comme a priori signifiant, à Dieu comme réflexion absolue, et aussi bien de la conscience d'obstacle comme immédiateté à la conscience de soi. J'obtiens donc une synthèse quintuple. La. Conscience de soi (1) détermine la conscience d'objet (2) et le silence humain (3) est déterminé pas le silence divin (4). La conscience philosophique et son discours occupe le centre (5), et d'étage en étage, on s'élève à la science comme éducation. (shrink)
Against jurisprudential reductions of Spinoza's thinking to a kind of eccentric version of Hobbes, this book argues that Spinoza's theory of natural right contains an important idea of absolute freedom, which would be inconceivable within Hobbes' own schema. Spinoza famously thought that the universe and all of the beings and events within it are fully determined by their causes. This has led jurisprudential commentators to believe that Spinoza has no room for natural right – in the sense that whatever happens (...) by definition has a 'right' to happen. But, although this book demonstrates how Spinoza constructs a system in which right is understood as the work of machines, by fixing right as determinate and invariable, Stephen Connolly argues that Spinoza is not limiting his theory. The universe as a whole is capable of acting only in determinate ways but, he argues, for Spinoza these exist within a field of infinite possibilities. In an analysis that offers much to ongoing attempts to conceive of justice post-foundationally, the argument of this book is that Spinoza opens up right to a future of determinate interventions –as when an engineer, working with already-existing materials, improves a machine. As such, an idea of freedom emerges in Spinoza: as the artful rearrangement of the given into new possibilities. An exciting and original contribution, this book is an invaluable addition, both to the new wave of interest in Spinoza's philosophy, and to contemporary legal and political theory. (shrink)
Baruch Spinoza is one of the most influential and controversial political philosophers of the early modern period. Though best-known for his contributions to metaphysics, Spinoza’s _Theological-Political Treatise_ and his unfinished _Political Treatise_ were widely debated and helped to shape the political writings of philosophers as diverse as Rousseau, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, and even Locke. In addition to its enormous historical importance, Spinoza’s political philosophy is also strikingly contemporary in its advocacy of toleration of unpopular religious and political views and his (...) concern with stabilizing religiously diverse democratic societies. The first Guidebook to Spinoza’s political writings, _The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Spinoza on Politics_ covers the following key points: Spinoza’s life and the background to his philosophy the key themes and arguments of the _Theological-Political-Treatis_e and _Political Treatise _ the continuing importance of Spinoza’s work to philosophy. This book is an ideal starting point for anyone new to Spinoza and essential reading for students of political philosophy and seventeenth-century philosophy. (shrink)
Many authors have already observed that the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of Baruch Spinoza was, in its time, the most discussed and most vehemently refuted book. Indeed, at the dawn of the Enlightenment, and almost until the end of the nineteenth century, Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise was an assertive and powerful appeal to freedom of expression and thought, a bold claim of religious tolerance and freedom of conscience in a Europe that was unaccustomed to the exercise of free thought. But, what is after (...) all the subject of the Theological-Political Treatise, a book maligned for so long and by so many as ultra pestilential and immoral? The present volume, collecting essays by notable European scholars, attempts to address some of the problems created by the broad spectrum of topics included in Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. (shrink)
This paper argues that Spinoza's main political writings are concerned, in part, with knowledge of essences as detailed in the Ethics. It is further argued that knowledge of the essences of states, and essential properties that belong to states, may be an example of the elusive scientia intuitiva or third kind of knowledge. The paper concludes by considering Spinoza's goals in his political writings and the importance of metaphysics and the theory of knowledge more broadly for early modern political philosophers.
Deze korte studie biedt niet de zoveelste inleiding in het denken van Spinoza, maar doet verslag van de persoonlijke, vijfentwintig jaar durende zoektocht om de vaak moeilijke thema's van Spinoza onder de knie te krijgen. Om via Spinoza's filosofie meer te begrijpen van de wereld en van het eigen leven. Om de vreugde te ervaren die dit verbeterde inzicht, in oorzaken en gevolgen, en ook in de eigen beperktheid, ons biedt. Elk hoofdstuk gaat over een onderwerp dat de auteur bijzonder (...) aanspreekt. Bestaat er een levenswil, Spinoza's conatus, die mensen voort doet leven ook onder de meest bittere omstandigheden? Is kennis en inzicht gradueel van aard? Wat is het verschil tussen adequate en inadequate kennis van de oorzaken van ons handelen? Hoe ontwikkelt een machtsstaat zich tot een rechtsstaat? (shrink)
The late Arthur Fox has left us a very fine book on the difficult subject of the relation between faith and philosophy in Spinoza's thought. The attention is focussed on the Theological-Political Treatise, concerned with public policy, the freedom to philosophize, and religious faith. The shift of focus in the interpretation of Spinoza's philosophy, from the Ethics to the Theological-Political Treatise, enables Fox to show his deep involvement in questions regarding the links between philosophy and theology on the one hand (...) and the morality of private and public life on the other. The analysis and interpretation of Spinoza's philosophy thus also throws an interesting light on contemporary problems of moral pluralism, religious faith, and rational political strategy. (shrink)
As a contribution to the commemorations of Spinoza's death, this article describes in a few pages the significance of Spinoza in the evolution of Western political thought. Especially in his Political Treatise, Spinoza attempted to elaborate a «scientific» theory of political life, i.e. a closing deductive theory based upon a «true knowledge of the causes and natural bases» of human actions and passions. In his view it can be proved with a rational necessity that democracy - defined as Spinoza defines (...) it - is the best political regime. He strongly emphasizes that democracy and, consequently, a well organized and efficiently functioning life in common, is impossible without real freedom of opinion and speech and a political «neutralization» of religion. (shrink)
By dramatizing Spinoza's relations to the Jewish community in Amsterdam and filling in some of the historical background. Feuer has made the story of Spinoza's life a commentary on the situation of the liberal in modern America. As an appraisal of Spinoza's political philosophy, however, the work suffers from the extreme vagueness of categories such as Liberal Republican, Scientific Philosopher, and Mystic.--R. F. T.