Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)

2007.12.15
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Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Description Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise is one of the most important philosophical works of the early modern period. In it Spinoza discusses at length the historical circumstances of the composition and transmission of the Bible, demonstrating the fallibility of both its authors and its interpreters. He argues that free enquiry is not only consistent with the security and prosperity of a state but actually essential to them, and that such freedom flourishes best in a democratic and republican state in which individuals are left free while religious organizations are subordinated to the secular power.

His Treatise has profoundly influenced the subsequent history of political thought, Enlightenment 'clandestine' or radical philosophy, Bible hermeneutics, and textual criticism more generally. It is presented here in a translation of great clarity and accuracy by Michael Silverthorne and Jonathan Israel, with a substantial historical and philosophical introduction by Jonathan Israel. Other books in this series. Notify me. Add to basket. Rating details. He shows that their abuse of power is not based on, or condoned by, the Scriptures and that most of their commands, rituals and dogmas are not necessary for salvation.

Spinoza put forward a devastating critique of the notion of "Biblical authority.

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Spinoza shows this notion to be mistaken: the "divinely inspired" prophet is simply a person with a lively if not overactive imagination. Spinoza's conclusion is based on a methodology that is as revolutionary as the conclusion itself. For Spinoza, the examination of Scripture must be performed with a "free and unprejudiced mind.

For the first time in the history of Bible scholarship, Israel emphasizes, Spinoza separates "true meaning" from "truth of fact.

Baruch de Spinoza's 'Tractatus Theologico-Politicus' Explained by Will Durant

Based on these elements, Spinoza attacks the traditional notion that the Bible contains important factual truths encrypted in its prophecies and stories. The Bible is not a reliable source of knowledge about God or nature; indeed, offering such knowledge is not its goal. The purpose of the Bible is to promote obedience to the law. While his argument against prophetic authority is based on philological and historical factors, Spinoza's main argument against miracles is openly philosophical.

It is here that he appears to contradict his own methodology, conflating "truth of meaning" with "truth of fact. Prima facie , however, it is more plausible that the authors originally meant by "miracle" a direct divine intervention in the fabric of nature, rather than an event that fills one with wonder and cannot be explained by known regularities. Spinoza explains at the end of his Book 6 On Miracles that the possibility of miracles is a philosophical question, to be addressed by the "natural light of reason.

When extraordinary events occurred, they were ascribed to the will and power of God in order to instigate obedience; this does not entail the conclusion that God can intervene to disrupt the fabric of nature, or that belief in miracles is necessary for salvation.

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For Spinoza, "necessary for salvation" are beliefs that promote good behavior, such as "love thy neighbor. Only those who love their neighbor based on philosophical reasoning are truly blessed.

The last part of TTP is a presentation of Spinoza's political philosophy. After showing that traditional theological beliefs are neither supported by the Bible nor necessary for salvation, Spinoza moves on to defend libertas philosophandi. Spinoza's goal here is more ambitious than simply showing that such freedom does not compromise the stability and order of the government.

As promised in the title page of TTP, he powerfully argues that the absence of libertas philosophandi is destructive of both stability and piety. In his previous works Israel pointed out an important feature of Spinoza's defense of toleration, a feature that puts him, as it were, on a collision course with the other famous 17th century paladin of toleration, John Locke. While Locke's endorsement of toleration is centered on freedom of worship, and excludes atheists as well as -- on different grounds --Catholics, for Spinoza freedom of worship is marginal.

On the contrary, he is more interested in thwarting the efforts of the various organized religions to acquire power and interfere with the res publica.

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Spinoza makes a distinction between freedom of individual worship, which ought to be warranted, and "empowering churches to organize, expand, and extend their authority freely," which gives them an undue control and authority over the lives of citizens as well as on political deliberations. Spinoza must have certainly had in mind -- Israel suggests -- the kind of authoritarian control that the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam tried to exert on his own philosophizing.

Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)

lirodisa.tk: Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) (): Jonathan Israel: Books. Spinoza: Theological-Political Treatise (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) - Kindle edition by Spinoza, Jonathan Israel, Michael Silverthorne.

Israel plausibly argues that Spinoza's condemnation of "seditious speech" which undermines the very existence of the government is aimed at religious authorities encouraging the ignorant to challenge laws that they label as "ungodly. Thus, restraining churches is the only way for a government to grant libertas philosophandi to citizens.

Such freedom is a necessary component of a stable and thriving state.

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The government can control behaviors, but not beliefs. Because, for Spinoza, the government's rights extend as far as its power, it follows that to control beliefs and speech is beyond the government's rights. Moreover, for Spinoza, the more despotic a government is, the less stable: citizens are much more likely to support and defend a government with which they can identify because they have a role in its rulemaking process.