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  1. Spinoza on Human Freedom: Reason, Autonomy and the Good Life.Matthew J. Kisner - 2011 - Cambridge University Press.
    Spinoza was one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment, but his often obscure metaphysics makes it difficult to understand the ultimate message of his philosophy. Although he regarded freedom as the fundamental goal of his ethics and politics, his theory of freedom has not received sustained, comprehensive treatment. Spinoza holds that we attain freedom by governing ourselves according to practical principles, which express many of our deepest moral commitments. Matthew J. Kisner focuses on this theory and presents an (...)
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  2.  36
    Essays on Spinoza's Ethical Theory.Matthew J. Kisner & Andrew Youpa (eds.) - 2014 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Thirteen original essays by leading scholars explore aspects of Spinoza's ethical theory and, in doing so, deepen our understanding of it as the richly rewarding core of his system. They resolve interpretive difficulties, advance longstanding debates, and point the direction for future research.
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  3. Perfection and desire: Spinoza on the good.Matthew J. Kisner - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (1):97-117.
    While Spinoza claims that our good is both what increases our essential power and what helps us to satisfy our desires, he admits that people desire things that do not increase their power. This paper addresses this problem by arguing that Spinoza conceives of desires as expressions of our conatus , so that satisfying our desires necessarily increases our power and vice versa. This reading holds, in opposition to recent work, that Spinoza upholds a desire-satisfaction theory of the good, though (...)
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  4.  57
    Spinoza’s Virtuous Passions.Matthew J. Kisner - 2008 - Review of Metaphysics 61 (4):759-783.
    While it is often supposed that Spinoza understood a life of virtue as one of pure activity, with as few passions as possible, this paper aims to make explicit how the passions for Spinoza contribute positively to our virtue. This requires, first, explaining how a passion can increase our power, given Spinoza’s view on the passions generally, which, in turn, requires coming to terms with the problem of passive pleasure, that is, the problem of explaining how being passive can cause (...)
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  5. "Spinoza's Activities: Freedom without Independence".Matthew J. Kisner - 2019 - In Noa Naaman Zauderer (ed.), Freedom Action and Motivation in Spinoza's Ethics. New York, NY: Routledge Press. pp. 121-165.
    Spinoza’s ethical claims rest on a basic set of concepts that he regards as kinds of activity: striving, power, virtue, freedom, perfection, among others. Steven Nadler articulates a standard way of thinking about the relationship between these activity concepts: “a number of terms in Spinoza are co-extensive and refer to the same ideal human condition. We can set up the following equation for Spinoza: virtue = knowledge = activity = freedom = power = perfection. Necessarily, the more virtuous a person (...)
     
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  6.  13
    Spinoza: Ethics : Proved in Geometrical Order.Matthew J. Kisner (ed.) - 2018 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    Spinoza's Ethics is one of the most significant texts of the early modern period, important to history, philosophy, Jewish studies and religious studies. It had a major influence on Enlightenment thinkers and the development of the modern world. In Ethics, Spinoza addresses the most fundamental perennial philosophical questions concerning the nature of God, human beings and a good life. His startling answers synthesize the longstanding traditions of ancient Greek and Jewish philosophy with the developments of the emerging scientific revolution. The (...)
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  7.  14
    Shaftesbury’s Distinctive Sentiments: Moral Sentiments and Self-Governance.Matthew J. Kisner - forthcoming - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie.
    This paper argues that Shaftesbury differs from other moral sentimentalists (Hutcheson, Hume, Smith) because he conceives of the moral sentiments as partial and first-personal, rather than impartial and spectatorial. This difference is grounded in Shaftesbury’s distinctive notion that moral self-governance consists in the self-examination of soliloquy. Breaking with his Stoic influences, Shaftesbury holds that the moral sentiments play the role of directing and guiding soliloquy. Because soliloquy is first-personal reflection that is directed to achieving happiness, claiming that the moral sentiments (...)
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  8.  89
    Spinoza’s Benevolence: The Rational Basis for Acting to the Benefit of Others.Matthew J. Kisner - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (4):pp. 549-567.
    This paper is concerned with Spinoza’s treatment of a problem in early modern moral philosophy: the potential conflict between the pursuit of happiness and virtue. The problem is that people are thought to attain happiness by pursuing their self-interest, whereas virtue requires them to act with benevolence, for the benefit of others. Given the inevitability that people will have different and often competing interests, how can they be both virtuous and happy and, where the two are in conflict, which should (...)
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  9.  25
    Scepticism and the early Descartes.Matthew J. Kisner - 2005 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (2):207 – 232.
  10.  58
    Spinoza’s Liberalism.Matthew J. Kisner - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (11):782-793.
    While Spinoza’s political philosophy is often described as liberal, it is not always clear what this label means or whether it is warranted. Calling Spinoza ‘liberal’ implies that he belongs to a historical tradition of political philosophers, who formulated and defended claims, which later became identified as central to political liberalism. Consequently, clarifying how Spinoza is a liberal requires specifying precisely which liberal views he articulated and defended. This paper, first, examines the various ways that commentators have interpreted Spinoza as (...)
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  11. Descartes' Naturalistic Rationalism.Matthew J. Kisner - 2003 - Dissertation, University of California, San Diego
    How are we to understand Descartes' view on the power and scope of reason? According to a common view, Descartes traffics in what I call 'theocentric rationalism.' Theocentric rationalism holds that human reason resembles divine reason, according to which God created the world. A hallmark of this view is the notion that knowledge should be analyzed and evaluated according to the standards of cognition achievable by God. ;My dissertation argues that Descartes resisted treating human reason as resembling divine reason. This (...)
     
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  12.  4
    Rationalism and Method.Matthew J. Kisner - 2005 - In Alan Nelson (ed.), A Companion to Rationalism. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. pp. 137–155.
    This chapter contains sections titled: The Philosophical Background to Method Descartes' Method Descartes' Successors: Malebranche and Spinoza on Method.
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  13.  10
    Spinoza’s Defense of Toleration: The Argument From Pluralism.Matthew J. Kisner - 2022 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 70 (4):213-235.
    Spinoza’s bold, spirited defense of toleration is an animating theme of the Theological-Political Treatise (TTP) and an important reason for the significant historical impact of the text. But Spinoza’s arguments for toleration can be challenging to discern. True to its title, the TTP offers two main arguments for toleration, one political, the other theological. This paper argues that Spinoza’s theological argument for toleration is closely connected to a distinct and often overlooked argument from pluralism. This paper examines Spinoza’s argument from (...)
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    Spinoza's guise of the good: getting to the bottom of 3p9s.Matthew J. Kisner - 2021 - Philosophical Explorations 24 (1):34-47.
    In the Ethics, Spinoza famously wrote, “we do not seek or desire anything, because we judge it to be good; on the contrary, we judge a thing to be good because we endeavor it, will it, seek it and desire it.” This passage is widely recognized as asserting some of Spinoza's most important claims about the good, but the precise meaning of the passage is unclear, as interpreters have offered a wide variety of interpretations, often without noting (or even noticing) (...)
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  15. The natural law.Matthew J. Kisner - 2015 - In Andre Santos Campos (ed.), Spinoza and Law. Routledge.
     
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  16.  16
    Descartes Embodied. [REVIEW]Matthew J. Kisner - 2002 - International Philosophical Quarterly 42 (3):412-414.
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  17.  49
    Review of Tammy Nyden-Bullock, Spinoza's Radical Cartesian Mind[REVIEW]Matthew J. Kisner - 2008 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (2).