Intellectual History Review 27 (4):543-560 (2017)

Benedict Rumbold
Nottingham University
Among Spinoza’s principal projects in the Ethics is his effort to “remove” certain metaethical prejudices from the minds of his readers, to “expose” them, as he has similar misconceptions about other matters, by submitting them to the “scrutiny of reason”. In this article, I consider the argumentative strategy Spinoza uses here – and its intellectual history – in depth. I argue that Spinoza’s method is best characterised as a genealogical analysis. As I recount, by Spinoza’s time of writing, these kinds of arguments already had a long and illustrious history. However, I also argue that, in his adoption of such strategies, we have good reason to think Spinoza’s primary influence was Gersonides. Elucidating this aspect of Spinoza’s critique of his contemporaries’ axiologies brings a number of explicatory and historical boons. However, regrettably, it also comes at a cost, revealing a significant flaw in Spinoza’s reasoning. Towards the end of this article, I consider the nature of this flaw, whether Spinoza can avoid it and its ramifications for Spinoza’s wider philosophical project.
Keywords Spinoza  Axiology  Genealogy  Gersonides  Moral Philosophy
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DOI 10.1080/17496977.2017.1294847
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References found in this work BETA

The Archimedean Urge.Amia Srinivasan - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):325-362.
Perfection and Desire: Spinoza on the Good.Matthew J. Kisner - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (1):97-117.
Spinoza's Theories of Value.Andrew Youpa - 2010 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (2):209 – 229.
Spinoza’s Normative Ethics.Michael Lebuffe - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (3):371-391.

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