A Spinozistic Model of Moral Education

Studies in Philosophy and Education 36 (5):533-550 (2016)
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Spinoza’s claim that self-preservation is the foundation of virtue makes for the point of departure of this philosophical investigation into what a Spinozistic model of moral education might look like. It is argued that Spinoza’s metaphysics places constraints on moral education insofar as an educational account would be affected by Spinoza’s denial of the objectivity of moral knowledge, his denial of the existence of free will, and of moral responsibility. This article discusses these challenges in some detail, seeking to construe a credible account of moral education based on the insight that self-preservation is not at odds with benevolence, but that the self-preservation of the teacher is instead conditioned by the intellectual deliberation of the students. However, it is also concluded that while benevolence retains an important place in Spinoza’s ethics, his causal determinism poses a severe threat to a convincing account of moral education insofar as moral education is commonly understood to involve an effort to influence the actions of students relative to some desirable goal.



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Johan Dahlbeck
Malmö University

References found in this work

Spinoza, practical philosophy.Gilles Deleuze - 1988 - San Francisco: City Lights Books.
A Study of Spinoza's Ethics.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - Cambridge University Press.
Spinoza's Metaphysics: Substance and Thought.Yitzhak Y. Melamed - 2013 - Oxford: Oxford University Press USA.
A Study of Spinoza's Ethics.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - Critica 16 (48):110-112.

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