Spinoza and the dictates of reason

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (5):485 – 511 (2008)
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Abstract

Spinoza presents the “dictates of reason” as the foundation of “the right way of living”. An influential reading of his position assimilates it to that of Hobbes. The dictates of reason are normative principles that prescribe necessary means to a necessary end: self-preservation. Against this reading I argue that, for Spinoza, the term “dictates of reason” does not refer to a set of prescriptive principles but simply the necessary consequences, or effects, of the mind's determination by adequate ideas. I draw on this conclusion in highlighting an abiding tension in Spinoza's notion of the preservation of one's being, which reinforces his divergence from Hobbes.

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Donald Rutherford
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Spinoza on Lying and Suicide.Steven Nadler - 2016 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (2):257-278.
‘Use Them At Our Pleasure’: Spinoza on Animal Ethics.John Grey - 2013 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (4):367-388.
Moral realism in Spinoza's Ethics.Colin Marshall - 2017 - In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), The Cambridge Critical Guide to Spinoza's Ethics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 248-65.

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