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Summary

Scholarly interest in Spinoza's philosophy of action today falls along three main axes. The first is Spinoza's distinction between “actions” strictly speaking (roughly, autonomous acts) and “passions” (heteronomous acts). The second concerns Spinoza's conception of “striving” (conatus), together with related concepts of “desire”, “appetite”, and “volition”. Here the bulk of the debate centers on understanding the causality of striving, and especially determining whether or not some sort of teleology is involved. This concern connects to a larger debate over the scope and nature of Spinoza's criticism of teleology. The third main topic of scholarly concern is Spinoza's criticism of Cartesian free will, together with his own redefinition of “freedom” as autonomy. Notions of passions and desire are also of great importance for Spinoza's ethics; the active/passive distinction for his epistemology.

Key works The key primary text is: Ethics (1677).
Introductions Important secondary discussions: Bennett 1984; Carriero 2005; Carriero 2011; Curley 1990; Della Rocca 1996; Della Rocca 2008; DONAGAN 1988; Garret 1999; Garrett 2002; Lin 2006; Koistinen 2009.
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  1. Necessity and the Commands of Reason in the Ethics.Michael LeBuffe - 2014 - In Matthew Kisner & Andrew Youpa (eds.), Essays on Spinoza's Ethical Theory. pp. 197 - 220.
    This essay focuses on Spinoza’s claim that ideas of reason are necessary. While Spinoza understands necessity to imply that something cannot be otherwise, the author shows that Spinoza employs a narrower notion of necessity that applies only to some things, what LeBuffe describes as omnipresence: existing at all times and in all places. This account of the sense in which the ideas of reason are necessary makes evident that such ideas have especially strong motivational power. Our affects are more powerful (...)
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  2. Spinoza and the Power of Reason.Michael LeBuffe - 2017 - In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), The Cambridge Critical Guide to Spinoza's Ethics. Cambridge: pp. 304 - 319.
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  3. Spinoza's Geometry of Power. [REVIEW]John Morrison - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (3):610-613.
    A book review of Valtteri Viljanen's "Spinoza’s Geometry of Power".
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Spinoza: Freedom
  1. Freud E Spinoza a Razão, a Necessidade E a Liberdade.Rogério Miranda de Almeida & Allan Martins Mohr - 2019 - Trans/Form/Ação 42 (1):79-100.
    Resumo Tencionamos, nestas reflexões, analisar os conceitos spinozianos de Deus, do homem e da razão, para, a partir do caráter necessário que os permeia, interrogarmos se existiria também a possibilidade de uma liberdade humana no pensamento do autor da Ética. Se tal liberdade existe, ela estaria situada no próprio plano racional, o que, por sua vez, levantaria ingentes problemas. A mesma questão - a da possibilidade de uma liberdade, em Freud - estaria colocada na margem de ação que, até certo (...)
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  2. From Bondage to Freedom: Spinoza on Human Excellence.Michael Lebuffe - 2010 - Oxford University Press USA.
    Spinoza rejects fundamental tenets of received morality, including the notions of Providence and free will. Yet he retains rich theories of good and evil, virtue, perfection, and freedom. Building interconnected readings of Spinoza's accounts of imagination, error, and desire, Michael LeBuffe defends a comprehensive interpretation of Spinoza's enlightened vision of human excellence. Spinoza holds that what is fundamental to human morality is the fact that we find things to be good or evil, not what we take those designations to mean. (...)
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  3. A Neo-Confucian Approach to a Puzzle Concerning Spinoza's Doctrine of the Intellectual Love of God.Xiaosheng Chen - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Birmingham
    In the last part of Ethics Spinoza introduces the doctrine of the intellectual love of God: God loves himself with an infinite intellectual love. This doctrine has raised one of the most discussed puzzles in Spinoza scholarship: How can God have intellectual love if, as Spinoza says, God is Nature itself? After examining existing.approaches to the puzzle and revealing their failures, I will propose a Neo- Confucian approach to the puzzle. I will compare Spinoza's philosophy with Neo-Confucian philosophy and argue (...)
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  4. Under the Aspect of Eternity: Thinking freedom in Spinoza’s ethics.Adam Arola - 2007 - Tópicos: Revista de Filosofía 32:139-159.
    El artículo ofrece una interpretación del papel de la libertad en la Ética de Spinoza. Considerando que Spinoza es conocido como un pensador del determinismo, el autor explica cómo su pensamiento sobre la libertad sólo cobra sentido si se reconoce la importancia de lo que describe como los tres tipos de conocimiento, en relación a los afectos. La diferencia entre la libertad y la esclavitud descansa en cómo se reciben e interpretan estos afectos, i.e. la fuerza del mundo exterior. Afirmar (...)
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  5. A Critical Assesment of Spinoza’s Theory of Affect: Affects, Beliefs, and Human Freedom.Ahmet Aktaş - 2018 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):251-272.
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  6. Spinoza, filosofía de la liberación.Diego Tatián - 2018 - Scienza and Politica. Per Una Storia Delle Dottrine 30 (58).
    Spinoza’s philosophy is a philosophy of liberation rather than a philosophy of freedom. Originally and naturally subjected to adversity and servitude, human beings conquer their freedom through political life and thought. The emancipatory perspective that is put into play is based on an ontology that breaks with the classical opposition between freedom and necessity. Rather, the Spinozist construction of freedom dispenses with the notion of “free will”, and subjects it to philosophical review. The freedom that results from the philosophy of (...)
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  7. Education and Free Will: Spinoza, Causal Determinism and Moral Formation.Johan Dahlbeck - 2018 - London, Storbritannien: Routledge.
    Education and Free Will critically assesses and makes use of Spinoza’s insights on human freedom to construe an account of education that is compatible with causal determinism without sacrificing the educational goal of increasing students’ autonomy and self-determination. Offering a thorough investigation into the philosophical position of causal determinism, Dahlbeck discusses Spinoza’s view of self-determination and presents his own suggestions for an education for autonomy from a causal determinist point of view. -/- The book begins by outlining the free will (...)
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  8. Human Action and Virtue in Descartes and Spinoza.Noa Naaman-Zauderer - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (1):25-40.
    In this paper, I argue that despite undeniable fundamental differences between Descartes’ and Spinoza’s accounts of human action, there are some striking similarities between their views on right action, moral motivation, and virtue that are usually overlooked. I will argue, first, that both thinkers define virtue in terms of activity or freedom, mutatis mutandis, and thus in terms of actual power of acting. Second, I will claim that both Descartes and Spinoza hold a non-consequentialist approach to virtue, by which human (...)
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  9. Spinoza in Twenty-First-Century American and French Philosophy: Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, Moral and Political Philosophy.Jack Stetter & Charles Ramond (eds.) - 2019 - London: Bloomsbury Academic.
    Contributors: Steven Barbone, Laurent Bove, Edwin Curley, Valérie Debuiche, Michael Della Rocca, Simon B. Duffy, Daniel Garber, Pascale Gillot, Céline Hervet, Jonathan Israel, Chantal Jaquet, Mogens Lærke, Jacqueline Lagrée, Martin Lin, Yitzhak Y. Melamed, Pierre-François Moreau, Steven Nadler, Knox Peden, Alison Peterman, Charles Ramond, Michael A. Rosenthal, Pascal Sévérac, Hasana Sharp, Jack Stetter, Ariel Suhamy, Lorenzo Vinciguerra.
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  10. Spinoza and Nietzsche on Freedom Empowerment and Affirmation.Razvan Ioan - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1864-1883.
    Against much of the philosophical tradition, Spinoza and Nietzsche defend an understanding of freedom opposed to free will and formulated as an ethical ideal consisting in a transition from a smaller to a greater power of acting. Starting from a shared commitment to necessity and radical immanence, they present freedom as a passage to a greater power of self-determination and self-expression of the body. Nevertheless, the continuities between their power ontologies and their respective commitments to a life of knowledge break (...)
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  11. Ética e Liberdade em Spinoza.Ricardo Clavello Salgueiro Garcia - 2015 - Dissertation, UFF, Brazil
  12. Rational Mastery, the Perfectly Free Man, and Human Freedom.Yakir Levin - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (3):1253-1274.
    This paper examines the coherence of Spinoza’s combined account of freedom, reason, and the affects and its applicability to real humans in the context of the perfectly free man Spinoza discusses towards the end of part 4 of the Ethics. On the standard reading, the perfectly free man forms the model of human nature and thus the goal to which real humans should aspire. A recently proposed non-standard reading, however, posits that the perfectly free man should not be considered the (...)
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  13. Whose Freedom? The Idea of Appropriation in Spinoza's Compatibilism.Martin Lenz - 2017 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 71 (3):343-357.
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  14. Book Review: Spinoza on Human Freedom: Reason, Autonomy and the Good LifeSpinoza on Human Freedom: Reason, Autonomy and the Good Life, by KisnerMatthew J.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 274 Pp. [REVIEW]Christopher Skeaff - 2012 - Political Theory 40 (4):531-535.
  15. Spinoza and Education: Freedom, Understanding and Empowerment.Johan Dahlbeck - 2016 - Abingdon: Routledge.
    Spinoza and Education offers a comprehensive investigation into the educational implications of Spinoza’s moral theory. Taking Spinoza’s naturalism as its point of departure, it constructs a considered account of education, taking special care to investigate the educational implications of Spinoza’s psychological egoism. What emerges is a counterintuitive form of education grounded in the egoistic striving of the teacher to persevere and to flourish in existence while still catering to the ethical demands of the students and the greater community. -/- In (...)
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  16. Freedom and Nature: A Spinozist Invitation.James Susan - unknown
    Can we deal with existing environmental threats without giving up a significant degree of freedom? The answer is often thought to be no, but in this lecture I sketch a Spinozist invitation to view the matter in a different light. Spinoza's conception of liberty is fundamentally a republican one, but, unlike other defenders of this tradition, he argues that we can be made made unfree by non-human things such as viruses or weather patterns. Insofar as we are subject to their (...)
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  17. Rights as an Expression of Republican Freedom. Spinoza on Right and Power.Susan James - 2015 - In .
    In the TTP Spinoza addresses in its full complexity the question of whether a republican theorist, committed to the view that the primary goal of political life is freedom conceived as the absence of slavery or dependence on arbitrary will, has any need for the notion of a right. His answer is designed to draw us away from many of the assumptions that run through the natural law tradition. Rather than accepting that our rights are stable, located in individuals, and (...)
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  18. Rational Devotion and Human Perfection.Christina Chuang - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna lays out three paths of yoga as the means to achieve human perfection: the path of self-less action, the path of knowledge, and the path of devotion. In this paper I will argue for an interpretation of the Gita in which the path of devotion is the last step that leads to moksha. This is not to claim that bhakti yoga is more important than karma and jnana yoga, but rather that the latter two are more (...)
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  19. Spinoza on freedom of thought. Selections from Tractatus theologico-politicus and Tractatus politicus.T. E. Jessop - 1963 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 68 (4):499-499.
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  20. Arne Naess, "Freedom, Emotion, and Self-Subsistence: The Structure of a Central Part of Spinoza's "Ethics"". [REVIEW]Charles E. Jarrett - 1979 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 17 (3):345.
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  21. Freedom, Emotion and Self-subsistence. The Structure of a Central Part of Spinoza's Ethics.Arne Naess - 1977 - Studia Leibnitiana 9 (2):290-292.
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  22. Spinoza on Freedom of Thought Selections From Tractatus Theologico-Politicus and Tractatus Politicus.Benedictus de Spinoza, T. E. His & Jessop - 1962 - M. Caalini.
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  23. Spinoza on Human Freedom: Reason, Autonomy, and the Good Life. By Matthew J. Kisner. (Cambridge UP, 2011. Pp. Xi + 261. Price £50.00.).Beth Lord - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (246):206-208.
  24. Spinoza el "libertinismo" político.Juan Pedro García del Campo - 1995 - Anales Del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía 12:33.
    En el articulo se argumenta la distancia que separa la concepción apinoziana de lo religioso y de lo político respecto de las tesis mantenidas por los “libertinos” franceses de la primera mitad del XVII, y se cifra la profundúingnlaridad de su pen-samiento en la afirmación de lo “teológico-político” como instancia desde la que, sin mediación de ningún tipo, se articula la trabazón social del “conatus”. Dans l‘article nous faisons voir la distance qui sépare la conception apinozienne a propos de ce (...)
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  25. Power and Difference: Spinoza's Conception of Freedom.Susan James - 1996 - Journal of Political Philosophy 4 (3):207-228.
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  26. Freedom and the Ethics of Immanence: Deleuze on Spinoza.Anupa Batra - 2007 - Southwest Philosophy Review 23 (1):97-104.
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  27. The Law of Freedom and the Summum Bonum in Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise. [REVIEW]Ulrich Dierse - 1986 - Philosophy and History 19 (1):24-25.
  28. “Knowledge” and “Free Man” in Spinoza’s Ethics.Mary Ann Ida Gannon - 1956 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 30:191-204.
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  29. Freedom, Understanding, and Therapy in Spinoza’s Moral Psychology.Mitchell Gabhart - 1994 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 9 (1):1-9.
  30. What Spinoza’s View of Freedom Should Have Been.Frank Lucash - 1984 - Philosophy Research Archives 10:491-499.
    I argue that Spinoza’s view of freedom in Part 5 of the Ethics is not incompatible with his view of determinism in Part 1, as Kolakowski claims, nor is it compatible for the reasons Parkinson, Hampshire, and Naess offer. Spinoza did not work out a clear view of how freedom differs from determinism. Using various resources in Spinoza, I present a view of freedom which is different from both internal or atemporal determinism and external or temporal determinism. Freedom, in the (...)
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  31. Spinoza’s Theory of Human Freedom.Stuart Hampshire - 1971 - The Monist 55 (4):554-566.
    Stimulated by the other contributors to this issue, I return to Spinoza’s philosophy of mind and to the account of freedom of mind which he considered compatible with the thesis of determinism.
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  32. Violenta Imperia Nemo Continuit Diu: Spinoza and the Revolutionary Laws of Human Nature.Hasana Sharp - 2013 - Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 34 (1):133-148.
    In what follows, I will substantiate the argument that there are at least two senses in which Spinoza’s principles support revolutionary change. I will begin with a quick survey of his concerns with the problem of insurrection. I will proceed to show that if political programs can be called revolutionary, insofar as freedom is their motivation and justification, and insofar as freedom implies an expansion of the scope of the general interest to the whole political body, Spinoza ought to be (...)
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  33. How Plotinian is Spinoza’s Doctrine of Freedom?Mary T. Clark - 1959 - New Scholasticism 33 (3):273-290.
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  34. Spinoza’s Book of Life: Freedom and Redemption in the Ethics. [REVIEW]Joshua Parens - 2004 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 78 (4):683-687.
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  35. Contra Spinoza: Aquinas on God’s Free Will.John F. X. Knasas - 2002 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 76 (3):417-429.
    My article confronts three of Spinoza’s four arguments against free will in God with Aquinas’s contrary position in the Summa contra Gentiles, Book I. Spinoza’s three arguments come from his Ethics, props. XVII and XXXII. First, since free choice is always exclusive, free choice in God would leave unactualized power in God. Second, if God’s will could be different without entailing divine mutability, then a divine voluntarism would reign. Third, if God has freedom of will but his willing is his (...)
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  36. Spinoza on the Political Value of Freedom of Religion.Edward C. Halper - 2006 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 2:37-44.
    The last chapter of Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise is a brief for freedom of religion. In our enthusiasm for Spinoza's conclusion it is easy to overlook the blatant contradiction between this thesis and the central claim of the immediately preceding chapter that "right over matters of religion is vested entirely in the sovereign." There Spinoza emphasizes the necessity that there be but one sovereign in the state and the threat that autonomous religious authorities would pose to the authority of this sovereign. (...)
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  37. Spinoza and the Theo‐Political Implications of His Freedom to Philosophize.Jeffrey Morrow - 2018 - New Blackfriars 99 (1081):374-387.
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  38. An Ethical Justification for Political Resistance in Spinoza.Erik Stephenson - 2016 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (1):145-171.
    This paper demonstrates that an ethical justification for political resistance can be found in Spinoza’s writings. It establishes that important elements of his ethical analysis of politics entail an ethical imperative to actively resist any attempt on the part of the sovereign to abolish or unduly curtail freedom of thought and expression. It shows that, under such circumstances, active resistance will be in accord with reason: the less it is motivated by any species of hatred; and the more it serves (...)
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  39. L’éthique narrative selon Paul Ricoeur : une passerelle entre l’éthique spinoziste et les éthiques du care.Éric Delassus - 2015 - Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 10 (3):149-167.
    Éric Delassus | : Selon Fabienne Brugère, un point de rencontre existe entre l’éthique spinoziste et les éthiques du care, le care pouvant être envisagé comme une réactualisation du conatus spinoziste. Cet article vise à démontrer que cette convergence peut s’établir à partir d’une éthique narrative inspirée de la pensée de Paul Ricoeur. Cela concerne principalement la perception que l’on peut avoir de soi en tant que corps et esprit, dans la mesure où l’esprit est défini par Baruch Spinoza comme (...)
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  40. Doing Without Free Will: Spinoza and Contemporary Moral Problems Eds. By Ursula Goldenbaum and Christopher Kluz.Andrew Youpa - 2016 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (4):676-677.
    Spinoza’s moral philosophy is trending. This is the fourth book written in English in six years devoted to various aspects of it; that may not qualify as viral, but it is progress. The volume’s five essays cover moral responsibility, akrasia, moral realism, and Spinoza’s model of human nature: the free man. Hence its subtitle is misleading. There is nothing uniquely contemporary about the issues discussed, as is evident from the essays themselves. Also, the moral problems are not the type one (...)
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  41. Spinoza and the Feeling of Freedom.Galen Barry - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):1-15.
    ABSTRACTWe seem to have a direct experience of our freedom when we act. Many philosophers take this feeling of freedom as evidence that we possess libertarian free will. Spinoza denies that we have free will of any sort, although he admits that we nonetheless feel free. Commentators often attribute to him what I call the ‘Negative Account’ of the feeling: it results from the fact that we are conscious of our actions but ignorant of their causes. I argue that the (...)
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  42. Spinoza and Moral Freedom.J. A. Cover & S. Paul Kashap - 1991 - Philosophical Review 100 (1):160.
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  43. Spinoza and the Theo‐Political Implications of His Freedom to Philosophize.Jeffrey Morrow - 2016 - New Blackfriars 97 (1070).
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  44. Rationality as the Therapy of Self-Liberation in Spinoza’s Ethics.Michael Hampe - 2010 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 66:35-49.
    A given statement may be plausible, well founded or true. An individual action may be judged courageous, useful or good. Human beings are judged as well, for statements or actions that invite such evaluations, though the terms used may be different: a person may be described as truthful and virtuous, clever and happy. Epistemology and ethics – the theories that justify theoretical and practical judgements – may address not only the criteria used to assess states of belief, assertions, knowledge and (...)
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  45. On Spinoza’s '''Free Man'''.Steven Nadler - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (1):103--120.
    ABSTRACT ABSTRACT: In this paper, I examine Spinoza’s ‘model of human nature’ in the Ethics, and especially his notion of the ‘free man’. I argue that, contrary to usual interpretations, the free man is not an individual without passions and inadequate ideas but rather an individual who is able consistently to live according to the guidance of reason. Therefore, it is not an impossible and unattainable ideal or incoherent concept, as has often been claimed, but a very realizable goal for (...)
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  46. Spinoza's ‘Ethics': A Critical Guide.Yitzhak Y. Melamed (ed.) - 2017 - Cambridge University Press.
    Spinoza's Ethics, published in 1677, is considered his greatest work and one of history's most influential philosophical treatises. This volume brings established scholars together with new voices to engage with the complex system of philosophy proposed by Spinoza in his masterpiece. Topics including identity, thought, free will, metaphysics, and reason are all addressed, as individual chapters investigate the key themes of the Ethics and combine to offer readers a fresh and thought-provoking view of the work as a whole. Written in (...)
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  47. From Bondage to Freedom. [REVIEW]Yitzhak Y. Melamed - 2011 - The Leibniz Review 21:153-159.
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