Ethics of Joy: Spinoza on the Empowered Life, by Andrew Youpa. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. Pp. 208

Mind 131 (523):995-1005 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The central argument of Youpa's book is that Spinoza's moral philosophy offers a distinctive variety of moral realism, grounded in a standard of human nature. In this review essay, I provide an overview of Youpa's remarkably lucid interpretation of Spinoza. However, I also critique Youpa's conception of the 'free man' as an objective standard of perfection which (a) applies equally to all humans, and (b) which has objective moral force in the sense that it ought to be approached. I sketch an alternative reading of Spinoza which denies a shared human essence, and which denies that an individual ought to become more perfect than they in fact are. I argue that Youpa's reading rests on the conflation of Spinoza's concepts of active power and adequate causation. I then suggest that Youpa's resultant excessive focus on a rational human essence as 'what we fundamentally are' leads him to downplay a more developmental and imaginative dimension to Spinoza's moral philosophy.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,442

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Essays on Spinoza's Ethical Theory ed. by Matthew J. Kisner and Andrew Youpa.J. Thomas Cook - 2017 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (2):352-353.
Spinoza's Theory of the Good.Andrew Youpa - 2009 - In Olli Koistinen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza's Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
Spinozistic Self-Preservation.Andrew Youpa - 2003 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):477-490.
Spinoza's Theories of Value.Andrew Youpa - 2010 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (2):209-229.
Spinoza on the Very Nature of Existence.Andrew Youpa - 2011 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 35 (1):310-334.


Added to PP

25 (#466,222)

6 months
10 (#89,079)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Sandra Leonie Field
Monash University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Spinoza.Don Garrett - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (4):952-955.
Spinoza's Conatus Argument.Don Garrett - 2002 - In Olli Koistinen & J. I. Biro (eds.), Spinoza: Metaphysical Themes. Oxford University Press. pp. 127-58.

View all 7 references / Add more references