Libertas Philosophandi as Freedom to Be Human

Journal of Early Modern Studies 11 (2):117-143 (2022)
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Abstract

In this paper, I will argue that Spinoza’s notion of libertas philosophandi in Theological Political Treatise2 is best interpreted as freedom of expression, in the metaphysical sense of expression found in Ethics I. This reading helps understand the role of the Spinozan state in protecting such freedom. Ethics argues that human nature is embodied thought, and its freedom is found both in rational and irreducibly imaginary cognition: imagination is knowledge, and, as such, it is a fundamental aspect of human expression. The last two books of Ethics show that human freedom depends on certain material and intellectual conditions: this clarifies the role of the state as an active participant, rather than a mere watchman, of individual expression.

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Francesca Di Poppa
Texas Tech University

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