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A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works by Benedictus de Spinoza

By Benedictus de Spinoza

This anthology of the paintings of Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677) provides the textual content of Spinoza's masterwork, the Ethics , in what's now the normal translation by way of Edwin Curley. additionally incorporated are decisions from different works by means of Spinoza, selected via Curley to make the Ethics more uncomplicated to appreciate, and a considerable advent that offers an outline of Spinoza's lifestyles and the most topics of his philosophy. excellent for direction use, the Spinoza Reader is a pragmatic software with which to technique one of many world's maximum yet such a lot tough thinkers, a passionate seeker of the reality who has been considered by way of a few as an atheist and via others as a non secular mystic.

The anthology starts off with the hole component of the Treatise at the Emendation of the mind , which has continually moved readers by means of its description of the younger Spinoza's religious quest, his dissatisfaction with the issues humans in most cases attempt for--wealth, honor, and sensual pleasure--and his wish that the pursuit of information could lead him to find the real strong. The emphasis all through those choices is on metaphysical, epistemological, and non secular concerns: the life and nature of God, his relation to the realm, the character of the human brain and its relation to the physique, and the idea of demonstration, axioms, and definitions. for every of those subject matters, the editor vitamins the rigorous discussions within the Ethics with casual remedies from Spinoza's different works.

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The world also provides us with a touchstone of reality: since it is lived in common with others, our experiences can become objective by being shared, our senses can be confirmed by the testimony of others, and our self-identity can be sustained by intersubjective acknowledgment. The reality of the world and of the self can thus be secured only by sharing our existence with others, that is, by living in a world which is public and common. What happens then when this world is lost, when we find ourselves in that condition that Arendt calls “world alienation”?

65 This debasement of the values of the vita activa, and especially of political action, was continued by the Christian tradition, insofar as it gave a religious sanction to the activity of contemplation and stressed the sinfulness of our worldly activities. The “glad tidings” announced by Christianity, the belief in the immortality of the soul and in a world beyond this one where the faithful will be gathered, had fateful consequences for the esteem and dignity of politics. Politics was now no longer seen as the sphere where individuals could perform noble deeds, reach agreement on matters of mutual concern, and achieve a measure of justice; it became, instead, the instrument for checking and controlling men’s sinful nature, for punishing their evil conduct, and for looking after their earthly necessities.

Vico’s claim, to be sure, was restricted to history, since only history could be “made” by man. She argues, however, that the principle itself was already established at the time of the discoveries of Galileo. Galileo’s telescope had demonstrated that merely contemplating the heavens in the belief that truth would disclose itself was no longer an adequate way to knowledge. 67 Thus the reversal in the modern age elevated homo faber to the position previously enjoyed by contemplation, and channeled all human activities into the pursuit of knowledge through making, that is, to intervening in nature in order to extract from her universal laws that applied to the whole cosmos.

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