The Philosophy of Spinoza: The Unity of His Thought

The Philosophy of Spinoza: The Unity of His Thought

The Philosophy of Spinoza: The Unity of His Thought

The Philosophy of Spinoza: The Unity of His Thought

Excerpt

The two and a half centuries which have passed since the death of Spinoza have been prolific in criticism of his work. Much that has been written about him, to be sure, seems to have sprung from no more profound motivation than a wish to praise or defame, but even of serious commentary few philosophers besides Aristotle can boast a larger critical library. Other details, moreover, of Spinoza's philosophic fortune suggest the comparison of Aristotle: even if one were permitted to forget that he has been rediscovered after a comparative oblivion, one would be led by the fervor with which he is acclaimed to expect a scholasticism in modern philosophy of which he is the Philosopher. Usually when he is not passed by or execrated in philosophic writings, he is looked to for a model of logical precision and acumen, and his pervasive awareness of the implications of concepts has apotheosized him among metaphysicians. Under such circumstances there is the danger that any further work seem a trifling or a presumptuous addition--either the swelling of the scholasticism with another glossary and commentary, or the undertaking of the magical enterprise of detailing precisely what has been in these works for several centuries. Fortunately the alternative is not exhaustive, and fortunately, so far as it holds, one may guide oneself by erring a little on the side of presumption. But the situation is determined somewhat by circumstances other than only these: the passing of centuries has altered the materials of the problem; it has added questions, and at very least it has changed the approach and so has changed the problem too. An age which boasts, as the present age does, of its scientific, pragmatic, and positivistic attitudes may well have lost, in forming itself, the sense of a philosophy which saw the . . .

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