Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays

Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays

Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays

Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays

Excerpt

In his British Academy lecture, which opens Part Three of this collection, Stuart Hampshire remarks of traditional interpretations of Spinoza:

All these masks have been fitted on him and each of them does to some extent fit. But they remain masks, and not the living face. They do not show the moving tensions and unresolved conflicts in Spinoza 's Ethics.

An anthology of papers on Spinoza may perhaps fare a little better in this respect than any single interpretation. Through the very plurality of its perspectives it will at least exhibit indirectly some of the "tensions" and "conflicts" to which Mr.Hampshire refers. Even if each were still "imposed from outside"—and I believe that some of them, including Hampshire's own essay, are not so—they would give some indication of the richness of Spinoza's thought. Is Spinoza a "nominalist" eluding his own nominalism in the general terms he uses (Savan) or has he developed a theory of intuitive knowledge which he can legitimately express in his own argument despite its nominalistic interpretation of some misuses of language (Fløistad, with Parkinson taking a position somewhere between these two extremes)? Is he a rigid determinist who celebrates freedom in defiance of his own metaphysic (Kolakowski) or in seeing freedom "positively" as self-understanding does he evade a literal question of "determinism" or its opposite and indeed stand "nearer to the truth at certain points than any other philosopher has ever been" (Hampshire)? A similar tension appears to the student of Spinoza's political theory: a tension between the rigorous demands of the rational life and the practical bent of his concrete political directives (Gildin). And in the interpretation of his metaphysic itself, on which all else depends, recurrent puzzles have returned to plague successive generations of his critics. Are the infinite attributes through which we are to understand God or nature mere "as-ifs" through which we approach an ultimately unintelligible ground of being, are they almost independent entities in their own right, or can we effect some synthesis of these opposing views? (See Professor Donagan's first essay.) Is . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.