web site hit counter Theological-Political Treatise - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Theological-Political Treatise

Availability: Ready to download

Rational examination of the Old Testament to show that freedom of thought and speech is consistent with the religious life. True religion consists in practice of simple piety, independent of philosophical speculation.


Compare

Rational examination of the Old Testament to show that freedom of thought and speech is consistent with the religious life. True religion consists in practice of simple piety, independent of philosophical speculation.

30 review for Theological-Political Treatise

  1. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    God is nature, and nature is God An in-depth incursion, by an excommunicated Jew*, into the authorship of the Pentateuch and other Old Testament books. Moses at [the] stake. An insightful analysis of the language, by an expert in Hebrew language, as Spinoza was. The writings of the Apostles are approached too. Finally, the analysis of the foundations of the State, the nature of the Law....and the main point of Baruch Spinoza: the King is not above criticism, but he may be the object o God is nature, and nature is God An in-depth incursion, by an excommunicated Jew*, into the authorship of the Pentateuch and other Old Testament books. Moses at [the] stake. An insightful analysis of the language, by an expert in Hebrew language, as Spinoza was. The writings of the Apostles are approached too. Finally, the analysis of the foundations of the State, the nature of the Law....and the main point of Baruch Spinoza: the King is not above criticism, but he may be the object of. ON ÉTABLIT QUE DANS UN ÉTAT LIBRE CHACUN A LE DROIT DE PENSER CE QU’IL VEUT ET DE DIRE CE QU’IL PENSE.** *Sentence of Excommunication:(quote)"...Espinoza be put to the herem (ban) and banished from the nation of Israel...by the decree of the Angels and the word of the Saints we ban, cut off, curse and anathematize Baruch de Espinoza...with all the curses written in the Torah..." July 27, 1656. **"It's established that in a free State each one has the right to think whatever he/she wants and to say whatever he/she thinks" .... Satirical Note: "...edicts including an injunction to stop using WhatsApp" in: http://www.economist.com/news/middle-...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Satyajeet

    One quote review. An excerpt from the book: "The affirmations and the negations of 'God' always involve necessity or truth; so that, for example, if God said to Adam that He did not wish him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it would have involved a contradiction that Adam should have been able to eat of it, and would, therefore, have been impossible that he should have so eaten, for the Divine command would have involved an eternal necessity and truth. But since Scripture neverthe One quote review. An excerpt from the book: "The affirmations and the negations of 'God' always involve necessity or truth; so that, for example, if God said to Adam that He did not wish him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it would have involved a contradiction that Adam should have been able to eat of it, and would, therefore, have been impossible that he should have so eaten, for the Divine command would have involved an eternal necessity and truth. But since Scripture nevertheless narrates that God did give this command to Adam, and yet that none the less Adam ate of the tree, we must perforce say that God revealed to Adam the evil which would surely follow if he should eat of the tree, but did not disclose that such evil would of necessity come to pass. Thus it was that Adam took the revelation to be not an eternal and necessary truth, but a law - that is, an ordinance followed by gain or loss, not depending necessarily on the nature of the act performed, but solely on the will and absolute power of some potentate, so that the revelation in question was solely in relation to Adam, and solely through his lack of knowledge a law, and God was, as it were, a lawgiver and potentate. From the same cause, namely, from lack of knowledge, the Decalogue in relation to the Hebrews was a law. We conclude, therefore, that God is described as a lawgiver or prince, and styled just, merciful, etc., merely in concession to popular understanding, and the imperfection of popular knowledge; that in reality God acts and directs all things simply by the necessity of His nature and perfection, and that His decrees and volitions are eternal truths, and always involve necessity." The key words in the excerpt are: "solely through the lack of knowledge" - the whole anthropomorphic domain of law, ínjunction, moral command, et cetera, is based on our ignorance; and the proposed ontological ethics are deprived of the deontological dimension. _______________________________ Also, "Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health." But that is not prohibited obviously — (Nothing is, nothing can be) — you're just informed of a cáusal link.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    The Enlightenment book on tolerance. Argues that scripture is not just interpreted subjectively but was written subjectively, because God can communicate to men only elliptically, using symbolism and cultural tropes. Calls for intellectual freedom all over the place. "[P]eople must be governed in such a way that they can live in harmony, even though they openly hold different and contradictory opinions. We cannot doubt that this is the best way of ruling, and has the least disadvantages, since it The Enlightenment book on tolerance. Argues that scripture is not just interpreted subjectively but was written subjectively, because God can communicate to men only elliptically, using symbolism and cultural tropes. Calls for intellectual freedom all over the place. "[P]eople must be governed in such a way that they can live in harmony, even though they openly hold different and contradictory opinions. We cannot doubt that this is the best way of ruling, and has the least disadvantages, since it is the one most in harmony with human nature. In a democratic state (which is the one closest to the state of nature) all men agree, as we showed above, to act--but not judge or think--according to the common decision. That is, because people cannot all have the same opinions, they have agreed that the view which gains the most votes should acquire the forces of a decision" ("A Free State" 14). Here Spinoza is making his argument for philosophical freedom, and simultaneously placing limits of freedom to break the laws of a state. Freedom to think, but not to act. This passage is interesting to me, in part, because I've just finished reading Walter Benn Micheal's /The Trouble with Diversity/, in which he ridicules (among other things) the idea of "diversity of thought." Should we let our business board meetings include people who think the business shouldn't exist? Should we let hard-core creationists teach high school biology? No, he says. Ideas aren't identity--ideas should battle each other to the death. In the ideal world, there wouldn't be Democrats or Republicans because we've just have Government. No politics, only policies. Spinoza's tack is rather different. He suggests the kind of pluralism where people "openly hold different and contradictory opinions" despite the way that they agree to act. Spinoza doesn't seem to spend a lot of time talking about how these opinions might interface with people's compliance to act, except where he says earlier that pious dogmas don't have to be true, "not only such as are necessary for inculcating obedience; i.e. those that confirm the mind in love towards our neighbor" ("Faith and Philosophy" 8). This seems to imply--and I might be making a leap here--that as long as your opinions don't break down society into violent chaos, that you can think what you'd like. Like Michaels, Spinoza expects these ideas to have to battle it out, except not for philosophical dominance, but in political. The tyranny of the majority can force a decision, but only a decision of action, not a decision of opinion, which remains stubbornly individual. Two books or one book? Your quote about "that everything happens according to natural laws, and to say that everything is ordained by the decree and ordinance of God, is the same thing" was also something that I was thinking about, because not just that nature and scripture are equal, but scripture is only an expression of nature.Even God is an expection of nature; "God acts and governs all things from teh necessity of his own nature" (On divine law). As you said, and Spinoza, "the prophetic gift was not peculiar to the Jews, but common to all peoples" ("On the vocation of the Hebrews), and "only the phenomena of nature we understand clearly and sitinctly that enhance our knowledge of God and reveal as clearly as possible the will and decree of God" ("On miracles 7), SO, then my question becomes this: is prophetic/natural law expressed or created? I think this will lead into the political questions that Spinoza (foreshadowing) will address later: what is the purpose of society? Is it to just desire that to which nature points them ("On ceremonies and narratives")?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Head

    Like Nietzsche, who adored Spinoza and called him "the purest philosopher," and Hobbes, whom Spinoza had read and admired, there is a certain brutal honesty in Spinoza's philosophy that comes through vividly in the Theological-Political Treatise. This short work, produced in Amsterdam in the 17th-century at the height of Calvin's influence, was actually written after his more famous Ethics, though published before it. Spinoza here describes his views of the relationship between Scripture, the St Like Nietzsche, who adored Spinoza and called him "the purest philosopher," and Hobbes, whom Spinoza had read and admired, there is a certain brutal honesty in Spinoza's philosophy that comes through vividly in the Theological-Political Treatise. This short work, produced in Amsterdam in the 17th-century at the height of Calvin's influence, was actually written after his more famous Ethics, though published before it. Spinoza here describes his views of the relationship between Scripture, the State, God, and Nature. In many ways, Spinoza is the first modern biblical scholar as he takes the Bible as his data points for reconstructing the actual history behind the text. He was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam for his "heretical" views, e.g. miracles do not occur and Moses did not write the entire Torah, and he elaborates on these views in the TTP. Because Spinoza equates Nature with God and the divine law with the natural law, there are times when he seems to endorse power as the ultimate organizing force of life and society. At other times he says things like the most natural state of society is democracy, the only commandments to love God and love your neighbor, and true piety consists merely in justice and charity. He claims that Jesus is the "Voice of God" and yet God is depicted as being remote and impersonal. There is a duplicity here that I can't quite put my finger on--like he wants to preserve a sense of "goodness" while neutralizing everything under the will to power (exercised by nature and political sovereigns). My motto is: beware of the philosophers of COLD HARD TRUTH. As William James said, "What has concluded, that we should conclude about it?"

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Review: June 2007 Philosophy, the Elite, and the Future "Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favored by fortune..." Thus begins one of the greatest books in the history of philosophy. Spinoza is an esoteric writer; he doesn't shout everything he has to say, though an attentive reader has a chance, however slight, to discern at least part of it. The existence of this philosophical-political esotericism, first adequately Review: June 2007 Philosophy, the Elite, and the Future "Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favored by fortune..." Thus begins one of the greatest books in the history of philosophy. Spinoza is an esoteric writer; he doesn't shout everything he has to say, though an attentive reader has a chance, however slight, to discern at least part of it. The existence of this philosophical-political esotericism, first adequately described by Leo Strauss (in "Spinoza's Critique of Religion"), is now on the verge of becoming generally accepted. For a very good example of this new, but qualified, acceptance of Spinoza's esotericism from a left/postmodern perspective, check out the recent collection of essays, "The New Spinoza", edited by Montag & Stolze, especially the essay by Andre Tosel. But the history of Spinoza reception is another story and another review. Many modern readers of Spinoza speak with vague unease about Spinoza's 'elitism', supposing it to be but another slight of the poor, weak and uneducated; we can perhaps begin to gauge the full length, breadth and depth of this philosophical 'elitism', and its true target, in a focused reading of the opening pages of the Preface to the Theologico-Political Treatise. "The human mind is readily swayed this way or that in times of doubt, especially when hope and fear are struggling for the mastery, though usually it is boastful, over-confident, and vain." Thus the problem with Man is not, strictly speaking, merely a lack of knowledge (and therefore the problem is not merely a lack of education) but also, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of self-control. Immediately, Spinoza follows this sentence by saying, "[t]his as a general fact I suppose everyone knows, though few, I believe, know their own nature..." There is a disconnect not only between knowing and doing but also between 'knowing' in general and knowing oneself. In order to do good how important is it to know yourself? There are several ways to understand this. One possible way is to say that even those ('sainted' elites) that 'know' are, nevertheless, unable to control their emotional behavior. Perhaps it is even this emotiveness that is especially vulnerable to superstition... But men, "in prosperity, are so over-brimming with wisdom [...] that they take every offer of advice as a personal insult"! Still, we are not surprised to read that "...superstition's chief victims are those persons who greedily covet temporal advantages...". (Note that it is not chiefly ordinary people that 'greedily covet temporal advantages' nor is it said that they are 'in prosperity'.) And, a little later, we learn that these people "are wont with prayers and womanish tears to implore help from God...". Indeed, Spinoza, when giving an example of this despicable behavior under duress turns to no less an exemplar than Alexander the Great - and his superstitious seeking of advice from seers. Now, the use of Alexander in this regard is a vital clue in our attempt to understand Spinoza's esotericism (i.e., his 'political' philosophy). The question is this: If Spinoza is indeed an elitist, exactly what is the position that can look down on not only the common people but also the actual 'elite'; i.e., the religious and political leaders? Well, of course, Spinoza is a philosopher; indeed he is one of the greatest. This understanding of philosophy, as the heights from which one looks down on everyone, is an old one. See, for instance, Averroes (in the so-called 'Decisive Treatise') for an overt example of the philosophical attempt to control a faction of the medieval elite (i.e., the theologians) with another faction of the medieval elite - the Islamic Jurists. Also, one should of course consider Machiavelli's Prince for a somewhat more circumspect (or covert) example of philosophy attempting to control the direction of politics and the political elite. Spinoza's decision to view politics and theology (or politicians and theologians) as dangers that need to be moderated philosophically is thus not unprecedented. Also, on this line of thought one should perhaps also take into account Nietzsche who, in the 'Genealogy of Morals', seems to go so far as to present history itself as a struggle between priestly and warrior noble castes... In electing to use Alexander as an example of superstition Spinoza is indicating that philosophy is above both religion and politics. Indeed, Spinoza continues in a (ahem) 'Nietzschean' vein and says, "that prophets have most power among the people, and are most formidable to rulers, precisely at those times when the state is in most peril. I think this is sufficiently plain to all, and will therefore say no more on the subject." Well perhaps not entirely plain; this basically says, for those that have ears to hear: 'Statesman! Either satisfy the common people or forfeit your right to rule to the prophets and their theologians.' Thus the 'war' between priestly and warrior castes was quietly noted, by Spinoza, long before Nietzsche. As an aside I should perhaps note that one also finds oneself (perhaps) nervously asking, at this point, are people today 'satisfied'? Kojeve, the architect of the most recent apotheosis of the political (i.e., the Universal Homogenous State), seems to confirm this interpretation (in his "Introduction to the Reading of Hegel") by saying that as "long as History continues, or as long as the perfect State is not realized [...] the opposition of these two points of view (the "philosophical" and the religious or theological) is inevitable." Of course Kojeve, following a Hegel that never existed, attempts to convince us that politics and philosophy are exactly the same and that theology was ever nothing. His mistake, from the viewpoint of philosophy, can perhaps be said to be that he took sides in the interminable war between elites. ...But that is another story. However, Kojeve is correct insofar as he is understood to be maintaining that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the political and the religious... Back to Spinoza. Satisfying the common people seems to be easier said than done. In a terrifyingly memorable passage - that is both a diagnosis and a prophecy - Spinoza writes, "[f]or, as the mass of mankind remains always at about the same pitch of misery, it never assents long to any one remedy, but is always best pleased by a novelty which has not yet proved illusive." Thus, given the perpetual emotional dissatisfaction of the people, Spinoza seems to be indicating that no one ever rules for long. He also seems to be indicating that emotions (at least among the 'mass of mankind') are uncontrollable and that the people are, in the long run, unsatisfiable. (...So exactly what is Enlightenment - and exactly why is Spinoza supporting it? ...Hmmm.) "Superstition, then, is engendered, preserved and fostered by fear", Spinoza had earlier said. But fear is an opportunity for philosophy, I mean for philosophical intervention. Machiavelli (in 'The Prince', chapter 6), after all, had already confirmed that the oppression, dissatisfaction and dispersal of the people was, above all, an opportunity for the creative One. Spinoza says that, "Prophets have most power among the people, and are most formidable to rulers, precisely at those times when the state is in most peril." The fundamental argument (and struggle), of course, between philosophers and the political-religious elites, seems to be over the exact identity of the creative One. For the religiously inclined the creative one is God and those who act in his name, for the politically 'pious' the creative one is the (hereditary, patriotic or revolutionary) 'Prince'. For Machiavelli, Spinoza, and Nietzsche one suspects that, 'behind the scenes and between the lines', the creative one (the bringer of New Modes and Orders, to quote Machiavelli) can only be the philosopher. Spinoza continues, quoting Curtius (the historian of Alexander): "The mob has no ruler more potent than superstition," and Spinoza immediately adds, "and is easily led, on the plea of religion, at one moment to adore its kings as gods, and anon to execrate and abjure them as humanity's common bane." Thus 'superstition' would seem potentially to be either a weapon of the religious or the political... This is a warning; but to exactly whom seems to be a bit unclear. I should mention that it is not impossible to read Machiavelli, with his high praise of ancient pagan religion, to be indicating much the same: that is, the necessary permanence of superstition. ...But, exactly what can and can't be done with superstition? The way out of this (seemingly) unpredictable and uncontrollable mess? One possible solution, according to Spinoza, is given by the 'Turk'. They have instituted a system that invests "religion, whether true or false, with such pomp and ceremony, that it may rise superior to every shock..." Of course, as Spinoza indicates, this absolutism leaves no room for either individual freedom or a thoughtful philosophy. But then Spinoza adds, "yet in a free state no more mischievous expedient could be planned or attempted." So, after discussing (and discounting) the possibility of theocracy (the Turks) Spinoza advocates the system allegedly reigning in Amsterdam: freedom and commerce. (Whew!) Now, in case some have been asleep for the past 300 years, I will point out that the rise of democracy was not always accomplished peaceably, nor, after its rise, has it been able to always maintain the peace. The test of being able to maintain the peace that Spinoza flings in the face of the Religion of his times can today, with equal appropriateness, be flung in the face of politics. I of course mean all politics. ...But that too is another book and another review. Spinoza can be said to here begin a process that leads to us. I hope I have begun the process of showing that the target of Spinoza's contempt was not the common people, but the ignorance and weakness of all their tormenters. I also want to note, given both the nature of these elites and also the perpetual suffering of the people, that all solutions are transient. And that the early-modern philosophical turn to the politicos, made in the teeth of ceaseless religious war, was only a maneuver. Over the past century philosophy found itself again in an era of civil wars, revolutions and world wars; - one wonders where philosophy will now turn in its never-ending struggle to moderate elites... Who will write the next Theologico-Political Treatise that will do to political Ideology what Spinoza here does to religious Revelation? Where is the next 'novelty'?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Griffin Wilson

    Classic work in philosophy, politics, and theology which laid the groundwork for modern biblical criticism. Obviously his speculations of the authorship of the Old Testament are now quite outdated, but his thoughts concerning interpretation and philosophy of religion are still quite relevant and interesting. Spinoza takes a "third way" when it comes to interpreting the scriptures. One school (Augustine, Maimonides, Ibn-Rushd etc.) advocated making the scriptures subservient to reason if they do n Classic work in philosophy, politics, and theology which laid the groundwork for modern biblical criticism. Obviously his speculations of the authorship of the Old Testament are now quite outdated, but his thoughts concerning interpretation and philosophy of religion are still quite relevant and interesting. Spinoza takes a "third way" when it comes to interpreting the scriptures. One school (Augustine, Maimonides, Ibn-Rushd etc.) advocated making the scriptures subservient to reason if they do not agree with reason (interpret more allegorically) while the other (Luther, Al-Ghazali, etc.) advocated to make reason subservient to the scriptures (interpret more literally). Spinoza wants to divorce philosophy and theology in claiming that they operate in their own, completely separate, realms; theology and revelation is meant to inspire obedience and piety in the people while philosophy is meant to inspire reason and truth. Currently I am in favor of some version of this argument, although I think Kant did a better job than Spinoza at banishing philosophy from theology and theology from philosophy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Buck

    The most radical kind of Liberalism you will ever be able to survey from 17th century thought, maybe

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    As tedious as watching re-runs of "Seinfield". I really enjoyed the author's "Ethics". This book was painful because he's constantly quoting 'scripture' both new and old testament. He painfully lays the biblical foundation that he uses in his "Ethics". Nicest thing I can say for this book is that it's no worse than most Liberal Theological books available today would be. I enjoy Star Trek. I'm not going to argue the truth and the wisdom of the Prime Directive by selectively quoting from different As tedious as watching re-runs of "Seinfield". I really enjoyed the author's "Ethics". This book was painful because he's constantly quoting 'scripture' both new and old testament. He painfully lays the biblical foundation that he uses in his "Ethics". Nicest thing I can say for this book is that it's no worse than most Liberal Theological books available today would be. I enjoy Star Trek. I'm not going to argue the truth and the wisdom of the Prime Directive by selectively quoting from different episodes and claiming each story was written by different authors and all inspired by Gene Rodenberry (may his grace forever shine on the Federation of Planets and His prophet James T Kirk be forever in your heart). Anyway you cut it transporters, planets where everyone conveniently speaks English, Apollo lives, and other such things don't exist, and I really don't care to pretend they do. The bible has talking snakes, zebras getting their stripes, zombies roaming through out all of Jerusalem, rods turning into snakes and so on. Don't waste my time in arguing if Star Dates make sense or not (they don't), and what Jesus said or didn't say to who and he didn't say it to is just as irrelevant to me. Don't waste your time on this one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Diyar Ahmed

    If you wanna read an extraordinary research on religion, prophets, miracle, scriptures based on philosophical arguments this book is the right choice. It is also an analysis of the bible by a science called philology. Spinoza argues that the bible we see today is not the actual revelation of god rather it is just telling stories of the prophets after hundreds of years of their death. And finally it talks about the style of ruling of Jews from the days of Moses and the factors that made their emp If you wanna read an extraordinary research on religion, prophets, miracle, scriptures based on philosophical arguments this book is the right choice. It is also an analysis of the bible by a science called philology. Spinoza argues that the bible we see today is not the actual revelation of god rather it is just telling stories of the prophets after hundreds of years of their death. And finally it talks about the style of ruling of Jews from the days of Moses and the factors that made their empire not c0llpase for more than a thousand years.

  10. 4 out of 5

    William Schram

    Benedict de Spinoza was a controversial figure during the enlightenment. He wrote two major works; one published during his lifetime, and the other published posthumously. Spinoza was the first man to publish a critique of The Holy Bible. I might be wrong about that, but Spinoza was not a well-regarded man in his days. The Theologico-Political Treatise is clear and concise. It examines the Bible critically and questions a great many ideas. I read Spinoza's Ethics, and this is a welcome change. To Benedict de Spinoza was a controversial figure during the enlightenment. He wrote two major works; one published during his lifetime, and the other published posthumously. Spinoza was the first man to publish a critique of The Holy Bible. I might be wrong about that, but Spinoza was not a well-regarded man in his days. The Theologico-Political Treatise is clear and concise. It examines the Bible critically and questions a great many ideas. I read Spinoza's Ethics, and this is a welcome change. To clarify, Ethics was great, but the geometrical proof format bothered me. Spinoza does not question God's existence. He merely explores the authenticity of the Bible. For example, Spinoza determines that the first five books of the Bible had multiple authors. He denies the existence of miracles. The second part of this book is Political Treatise. It explores the idea of a government based on common consent. It is not complete. The book is a Dover reprint of an edition from 1884. It includes a biographical account of Spinoza's life and times.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Otto Lehto

    If there ever was a philosopher capable of endearing himself to the devoted and skeptical alike, it was Spinoza. Through his courageous example, we can learn to love God/Nature/Truth, and love to use our reason. The philosopher's work on the Bible is a groundbreaking exposition of the historical conditions that underlie religious texts. It explains the Bible in strikingly modern, critical terms, and in line with Spinoza's other work, it provides an interpretation of God in rational, naturalistic, If there ever was a philosopher capable of endearing himself to the devoted and skeptical alike, it was Spinoza. Through his courageous example, we can learn to love God/Nature/Truth, and love to use our reason. The philosopher's work on the Bible is a groundbreaking exposition of the historical conditions that underlie religious texts. It explains the Bible in strikingly modern, critical terms, and in line with Spinoza's other work, it provides an interpretation of God in rational, naturalistic, pantheistic terms. These two aspects - Biblical criticism and original theological insight - ultimately lead to humanistic and liberal conclusions about Spinoza's ideal state, under which liberty of conscience and freedom of speech are to be firmly protected, so that the true religion of rational piety can be exercised without obstruction and persecution. Those who are familiar with Spinoza will know that he takes God and religion very seriously. But they will also know that he opposes all forms of superstition, and sees no place for boring miracles, clever tricks and divine subterfuges. Unfortunately he sees the "popular imagination" as being prone to interpret everything according to their hazy notions of divinity. The masses are more impressed by magic tricks and wild claims than by the rational beauty of God's creation, and Spinoza saw the Bible as being tailored to their uncultured and unscientific tastes and worldviews. He laments the superstitions and weaknesses of the preliterate people for whom the Bible was written, but the same goes even for his contemporaries. The Theological-Political Treatise could best be understood as an attempt to illuminate the educated reader. "... that every man should think what he likes and say what he thinks." - ch. XX At its best, the book clearly exposes the all-too-human origins of prophecies and divine texts. He sees the Bible as a collection of inspired texts, encapsulating the history and theology of the Jewish nation, selected from a large selection of texts, some of which have not survived, bound together at a much later date by Jewish scholars, originally written by prophets and (even more likely) courtly historians. The language of the book(s) ranges from prosaic to poetic, reflecting the different styles and aims of their authors, and it is exceedingly difficult to tell which of its stories are supposed to be true and which are only metaphorical and allegorical (or downright false due to the poor scientific understanding of the time). Spinoza argues that Moses was a lawgiver because he (re)founded the nation of Israel, and that is why he spoke of religion in terms of law, punishment, reward, nation-state, etc. Some of the other prophets, on the other hand, were people of "vivid imagination", who saw dreams and visions of God, and conveyed their theological insight in a way that was more metaphorical and poetic. Thus God was different things to different people, and Spinoza was acutely aware of the contradictions and tensions in the Bible. Some of the most detailed and advanced arguments in the book deal with self-contradictory chronologies and other internal discrepancies, where Spinoza shows, step by step, that a literal reading of the Bible is doomed to fail. This is why critical Biblical scholarship owes a huge deal to Spinoza's groundbreaking work. That said, the detail-oriented approach of the book can become heavy, at times. The philosophical insights of the book are copious, but they are hidden beneath a barrage of facts, explanations, textual exegesis and tangential asides. In addition, some of the Biblical scholarship has naturally been superseded long ago by more modern interpretations. Spinoza's far-fetched theories about the authorship of the books of Moses are hardly supported by most scholars today. But let me be clear: it is not like Spinoza sounds tame even by today's secular standards. Some of his arguments would probably shock even the most intrepid scholar. So, although the book occupies a strange place, since it is neither as succinct or philosophically focused as the Ethics, nor as up-to-date and rigorous as contemporary scholarship on the Bible, it sheds crucial light on many important aspects of Spinoza's philosophy, and it offers a magnificent example of the power of reason, capable of loving God, applied to the very important and very contentious topic of popular religion. By looking at Christianity critically, it allows us to discover what is perennially valuable in its message, and what is merely the accidental result - both understandable and lamentable - of its historical context.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kamran Swanson

    Summary: Published anonymously in 1670 Netherlands, Spinoza's attempt here is to address and critique the widespread religious beliefs and biblical interpretations that people use to justify various moral and political beliefs. Spinoza's ultimate stance is that the Bible is written by human hands, that prophets have insight to divine will but dress their stories in human imagination, that miracles are a testament to our own ignorance rather than supernatural intervention, and that the only true Summary: Published anonymously in 1670 Netherlands, Spinoza's attempt here is to address and critique the widespread religious beliefs and biblical interpretations that people use to justify various moral and political beliefs. Spinoza's ultimate stance is that the Bible is written by human hands, that prophets have insight to divine will but dress their stories in human imagination, that miracles are a testament to our own ignorance rather than supernatural intervention, and that the only true commandment is to love you neighbor and act with justice. For Spinoza, the true religion is accessible through reason alone, and is not the sole province of Judaism, Christianity, or any other major world religion. God exists, but is nothing but nature. Divine law and natural law are coextensive. Spinoza's final chapters argue for a sort of absolutist democracy, where the people themselves are the absolute sovereigns of the state. Though this sovereign power should have absolute right to place laws and restrictions on actions (whatever is for the benefit of the state), the state should not exercise any laws or actions that restrict speech or thought. As such, it is one of the earliest defenses of free speech of the modern era. Review: This is such a wonderful and therapeutic book for the polluted way in which both the religious and non-religious hold the value of the Bible and religion. I'm an atheist, but was inspired to read the Bible after Spinoza's critique. I believe he is attempting a sort of dialectic critique on his audience's dogmatic beliefs, initially critiquing his audience's beliefs about prophets and prophecies, then moving on to miracles, and finally engaging in a thorough critique of biblical interpretation itself. If a reader has read the book seriously, I believe many traditional religious beliefs would have been undermined or cast into a new light by the end of Chapter 7. From there, the critique continues until the full implications of his critique of religion are revealed by Chapter 15. I left this book feeling both inspired to be more charitable of the Bible, and resolved in my belief that the majority of religious beliefs are disloyal to the true moral law of justice and neighborly love, and that the adherence to traditional religions is nothing but destructive to a free and healthy society.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alan Johnson

    I read the R. H. M. Elwes English translation of Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) and Political Treatise (unfinished manuscript written shortly before Spinoza's death) in the spring of 1967 when I took a course on these writings. Since I do not know Latin, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any particular translation of Latin into English. However, I am aware that the Straussians and the Focus Philosophical Library (now an imprint of Hackett Publishing Company) attempt English tr I read the R. H. M. Elwes English translation of Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) and Political Treatise (unfinished manuscript written shortly before Spinoza's death) in the spring of 1967 when I took a course on these writings. Since I do not know Latin, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any particular translation of Latin into English. However, I am aware that the Straussians and the Focus Philosophical Library (now an imprint of Hackett Publishing Company) attempt English translations that are as accurate and free of interpretive bias as possible. I accordingly purchased Benedict Spinoza, Theologico-Political Treatise, translated with glossary, indexes, and interpretive essay by Martin D. Yaffe (Indianapolis: Focus, 2004). I am currently (as of December 4, 2018) reading this translation. I note, however, that the Yaffe edition does not include Spinoza's Political Treatise, which is also translated in the Elwes edition.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I like Spinoza a lot, but this was nowhere near as good as the Ethics. That said, there's still a great deal of wisdom in here. What I loved about the Ethics was that Spinoza managed to forge an entirely new path. However, in the Tractatus, he relies far too much on Biblical exegesis and what have you. Boring. But I can imagine that for religious folk, this would be a really refreshing book to read, both in its Biblical exegesis and its claims of the commensurability of religion and reason. I like Spinoza a lot, but this was nowhere near as good as the Ethics. That said, there's still a great deal of wisdom in here. What I loved about the Ethics was that Spinoza managed to forge an entirely new path. However, in the Tractatus, he relies far too much on Biblical exegesis and what have you. Boring. But I can imagine that for religious folk, this would be a really refreshing book to read, both in its Biblical exegesis and its claims of the commensurability of religion and reason.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rodrigo

    I'm loving it. I had never thought much of Spinoza, I mean, his definition of love and hate, as well as all other "active" emotions were pretty awesome, but I had always thought of him as "that other rationalist guy", the "guy who's like Descartes only he's not", etc... Turns out his work is just as ground-breaking, if not more, than Descartes' method. The only thing that bothers me is his lack of an "epistemological experiment" thingy, like Descartes did. I mean, how the hell could he answer the I'm loving it. I had never thought much of Spinoza, I mean, his definition of love and hate, as well as all other "active" emotions were pretty awesome, but I had always thought of him as "that other rationalist guy", the "guy who's like Descartes only he's not", etc... Turns out his work is just as ground-breaking, if not more, than Descartes' method. The only thing that bothers me is his lack of an "epistemological experiment" thingy, like Descartes did. I mean, how the hell could he answer the "how do you know?" empiricists (and first-year philosophy majors) love so much?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dima

    Amazing work for seventeenth century! I have to admit that I just purchased bible on tape to try to keep up with the biblical analysis offered here :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ady ZYN

    Recommended

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jackson Cyril

    A book that begins as a stunning example of biblical philology which then turns into a fierce defense of democracy and individual freedom. Spinoza is equally at home debunking biblical myths and totalitarian government.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Muath Aziz

    What I understand from Spinoza is that God is Logic and Causality, God is Nature of Things, Nature of Things is an absolute universal Truth and can't be broken, that's God isn't it? If a prophet dreamt of God commanding him, then these commands came from the prophet's Imagination itself, but that's fine, Imagination is part of Nature after all, so it is of humans psychology to look for God and worship him. So what should we take from Prophets and Scriptures? We have Reasoning, that's part of our N What I understand from Spinoza is that God is Logic and Causality, God is Nature of Things, Nature of Things is an absolute universal Truth and can't be broken, that's God isn't it? If a prophet dreamt of God commanding him, then these commands came from the prophet's Imagination itself, but that's fine, Imagination is part of Nature after all, so it is of humans psychology to look for God and worship him. So what should we take from Prophets and Scriptures? We have Reasoning, that's part of our Nature, we used to assess Scripture. Spinoza is claiming to objectively assessing Scripture, through objective historical study of Scripture, but he is actually first being Descartes-Skeptical (which allows him to start from scratch regarding a subject such as Theology) but mind you he's not starting fully from scratch but he does have the God-is-Nature belief to start with. One can find truth in Scripture, but the truth that makes one live a happy sound life. Community things such as Ceremonies are aimed at the community that the Scripture was revealed to, we as individuals not living in these communities shouldn't care about these ceremonies. Scriptures are full of amusing histories for the common people who believe in Scriptures, but Belief itself is not sufficient, they should also consult ministers to teach them the real meaning behind them for them to live a better happy life. "On the other hand, as we have said, he who is completely ignorant of [Scriptures?], and nevertheless has salutary opinions and a true conception of living, is truly happy and truly has within him the spirit of Christ." I wonder then, why does God want us to live a happy sound life? And what if a person is born without this psychological need to look and follow God? Humans aren't the same, that's the Nature of humans. I would then find Scriptures and how-to-live-happily Wisdom/Philosophy books to be the same. Comparing Spinoza with Hobbes. To Spinoza, since God is Nature, and Miracles are the break of such Nature, Miracles are nonsensical. To Hobbes, a Materialistic (the natural world is truth, but God is above it, not it), a Miracle can happen and it is a prove of God, thus believing in someone who says that a Miracle happened to him, you can either believe or not believe in his words, it depends in your belief on the person claiming that and not the Miracle itself, you didn't see the Miracle with your own eyes after all. To Spinoza, whatever happens happens according to its Nature. Why do people think of Miracles as something special (even tho things following their Nature is itself something very special to Spinoza) is that people like to think of themselves as something special to the point that "God" breaks the Nature of things to help them, that's so absurd and contradictory to God's Nature. What's a Miracle? It's a Natural phenomenon that is not understood by the reporter of the Miracle. God's Nature is to follow God's Nature, to me that makes God so passive and not actively active as Spinoza sees it. Does God feel and think? Or is God just the Causality in itself? What if it's God's Nature to change the Nature of things (a Miracle) for a prophet just to comfort him in the truth of his prophesy? But to Spinoza, God is the purpose-less Causality. What's the prove of that then? He can't of course prove it, he can only believe in it and start from there. I don't agree. If it was proved that something happened outside of Causality of things, it proves that Nature of things is not just Causality, it proves that God is even above Causality. We don't need to understand how it happened to believe that it happened, we know that there is a box in front of us without the need of looking inside the box. Maybe there is a cat inside the box but we shouldn't care, because there still is a box in front of us. But then, how can we even prove that something happened out of Causality? You can't prove that there is no invisible cat above your head right now, I on the other hand can't prove it actually exists because in doing so I am making it no more invisible. Thus, we can't even prove or disprove God's essence-above-Causality from Miracles, Scriptures, Prophets, Reasoning, Philosophy. We can't prove God exists, but we can still believe God exists, for Faith is a wonderful psychological sensation. Are religions good? Spinoza says of course they are. It can grab common people's imagination and obedience, it makes them live happy as individuals and as a society. But philosophers, can go further than the common man and grasp a better and clearer understanding of Nature. Are Prophets just a bunch of liars to Spinoza? I think that's not the point; they are doing what they're doing for the sake of teaching others how to live. That makes Prophets great philosophers for common people, and philosophers to be great philosophers for "smart" people. I don't like this. To me, I can say to Spinoza that it is the Nature of common people to believe in Scriptures the way they do, for Faith is something independent of Reasoning, Spinoza lacks the former and that's why he missed it in his philosophy. He indeed knows what is it about (he used it to explain humans tendency to make up religions) but he doesn't know what it is, and that's fine, it's not the Nature of Spinoza to feel Faith. "For anyone whose knowledge rises even slightly above the common level knows that God does not have a right hand or a left hand, and does not move or stay still, and is not in space but is absolutely infinite, and all perfections are contained in him. These things, I say, are known to those who judge things from what is gathered by pure intellect, and not as the imagination is affected by external senses, as the common people do, who therefore imagine God as corporeal and as holding royal power... Many events in the Bible have been adapted to these and similar beliefs (as we have said), and accordingly they must not be accepted as real by philosophers." I think this summarizes Spinoza nicely and shows him as a continuation to Descartes Philosophy somehow. But it also shows how it's impossible for Spinoza's philosophy to find any mysticism anywhere, Scriptures or whatsoever, and this makes reading this book so boring, I already know that Spinoza's reactions are going to be Naturalistic in denying anything that is not. No fun in that! Spinoza in short: "Can Causality contradicts itself? No, because Causality can't contradict itself." I think that Spinoza's Philosophy is teaching us that we should not study it, but to study Newton's instead, for Newton is telling how Nature works. "And as the highest authority to interpret Scripture rests with each individual, the rule of interpretation must be nothing other than the natural light of reason which is common to all men, and not some light above nature or any external authority. The criterion should not be so difficult that it cannot be applied by any but the most acute philosophers, but should be adapted to the natural and common intelligence and capacity of (all) human beings, as we have shown that our norm is; for we have seen that the difficulties which it continues to present have their origin not in the nature of the method but in men's carelessness." "This will be straightforward for us now that we know that it was not the purpose of the Bible to teach any branch of knowledge. For from this we can readily infer that it requirea nothing of men other than obedience, and condemns not ignorance but disobedience. Since obedience to God consists solely in love of our neighbor (for he who loves his neighbor, with intentions of obeying God, has fulfilled the Law, as Paul observes in his Epistle to the Romans, 13.8), it follows that the only knowledge commended in Scripture is that which everyone needs to obey God according to this command, that is if, lacking this knowledge, they must necessarily be disobedient or at least deficient in the habit of obedience. All other philosophical concerns that do not directly lead to this goal, whether concerned with Knowledge of God or of natural things, are irrelevant to Scripture and must therefore be set aside from revealed religion." "and consequently men may have totally the wrong ideas about God's nature without doing any wrong. It is not in the least surprising, therefore, that God adapted Himself to the imaginations and preconceived opinions of the prophets and that the faithful have held conflicting views about God... Nor is it at all surprising that the sacred books express themselves so inappropriately about God throughout attributing hands and feet to him... They are here manifestly speaking according to the [utterly deficient] understating of the common people, whom Scripture strives to render not learned but obedient. However, theologians as a rule have contended that whatever they could discern with the natural light of reason in inappropriate to the divine nature and must be interpreted metaphorically and whatever eludes their understanding must be accepted in the literal sense. But if everything of this sort which is found in the Bible had necessarily to be construed and explained metaphorically, then Scripture would have been composed not for the common folk and uneducated people, but exclusively for the most learned and philosophical." "It is, therefore, not the man who advances the best reasons who necessarily manifests the best faith but rather the man who performs the best works of justice and charity... Faith therefore allows every person the greatest liberty to think, so that they may think whatever they wish about any question whatever without doing wrong. It only condemns as heretics and schismatics those who put forward beliefs for the purpose of promoting disobedience, hatred, conflict and anger." Spinoza teaches that Faith and Philosophy is totally independent from each other and that they don't overlap or contradict. ----- "the divine law, or the law of religions, arises from a covenant, and without a covenant there is no law but the law of nature [where you can do whatever physics allow you to]. It follows that by the ties of religion the Hebrews were bound in piety only towards their fellow citizens and not towards the nations who were not party to the Covenant." Spinoza also agrees with Hobbes that 'jurisdiction over sacred matters belong to thesovereign authorities... Religion has the power of law only by decree of those who exercise the right of government and that God has no special kingdom among men except through those who exercise sovereignty... Religious worship and pious conduct must be accommodated to the peace and interests of the state and consequently must be determined by the sovereign authorities alone... A person fulfills the law of God by practicing justice and charity at God's command, from which it follows that a kingdom of God is a kingdom in which justice and charity have the force of law and command. I cannot see that it makes any difference here whether God teaches and commands the true practice of justice and charity by the natural light of reason or by revelation. It makes bo difference how such practice is revealed to me, provided that it possesses supreme authority and serves men as their highest law." "If anyone asks what right the disciples of Christ had to preach religion, since they were indubitably private meb, I answer that they preached by right of the power which they had received from Christ to drive out impure spirits... all men are obliged to keep faith even with a tyrant, unless God has promised a person special help against a tyrant by a separate revelation." Where it is shown that in a free state everyone is allowed to think what they wish and to say what they think: "No one, therefore, can surrender their freedom to judge and to think as they wish and everyone, by the supreme right of nature, remains master of their thoughts. It follows that a state can never succeed very far in attempting to force people to speak as the sovereign power commands, since people's opinions are so various and so contradictory. For not even the most consummate statesmen, let alone the common people, possess the gift of silence. It is a universal failing in people that they communicate their thoughts to others, however they should (sometimes) keep quite. Hence, a government which denies each person freedom to speak and to communicate what they think; will be a very violent government whereas a state where everyone is conceded this freedom will be moderate. However, we cannot altogether deny that treason may be committed as much by words as by deeds. Consequently, if it us impossible altogether to deny subjects this freedom, it is, on the other hand, likewise very dangerous to concede it without restriction... Each one therefore surrendered his right to act according to his own resolution, but not his right to think and judge for himself. Thus no one can act against the sovereign's decisions without prejudicing his authority, but they can think and judge and consequently also speak without any restrictions, provided they merely speak or teach by way of reason alone, not trickery or in anger or from hatred or with the intention of introducing some alteration in the state on their own initiative."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Georgia Leatherdale Gilholy

    You Spin-oza me right round baby, right round.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David S. T.

    “Since love of God is the highest felicity and happiness of man, his final end and the aim of all his actions, it follows that he alone observes the divine law who is concerned to love God not from fear of punishment nor love of something else, such as pleasure, fame, ect., but from the single fact that he knows God, or that he knows that the knowledge and love of God is the highest good”. (pg 60) Spinoza's Theological-Politcal Treasise has intrigued me for a while, here was one of the earlier bo “Since love of God is the highest felicity and happiness of man, his final end and the aim of all his actions, it follows that he alone observes the divine law who is concerned to love God not from fear of punishment nor love of something else, such as pleasure, fame, ect., but from the single fact that he knows God, or that he knows that the knowledge and love of God is the highest good”. (pg 60) Spinoza's Theological-Politcal Treasise has intrigued me for a while, here was one of the earlier books to approach the bible as fallible and openly raise questions which would later be the subject of much later biblical debate, such as the authorship of the Pentateuch. Since this was one of the first books like this, written in a time when freedom of speech wasn't a given, the book is a little uneven. During parts Spinoza tries to reinterpret scripture using scripture which seems to give authority to scripture, while in other parts he tries to show how scripture is a product of man and not God. My guess is that while he's trying to decrease the reliance on scripture for discovering god, he also wants to take care not to offend those people. In the end it slightly backfired, for a while he was thought of as an atheist and his book was banned, although now days the book's influence on historical criticism is felt. A large chunk of the book Spinoza seems to try to take the supernatural elements out of the bible. To him things such as ten plagues in Egypt can easily be explained with natural causes, for example the locusts came by a wind from the east or a natural cause. If these things can be explained by natural causes, then its likely that the harder to explain things also likely happened with natural causes (although I don't remember him trying to explain away the virgin birth, but that might have been too dangerous). Furthermore he believes that god established the natural laws, and if god were to bend them at all to perform a miracle then that would in fact mean that he made a mistake establishing the laws. The political part of the book is much smaller, its takes up the last few chapters, although the entire book is leading up to this point. Spinoza has been tearing down the inerrancy of the bible for the purpose of trying to get the government to allow freedom of speech and to philosophize, perhaps if the bible isn't so divine then people won't feel the urge to silence anyone who disagree with it. This freedom and a democracy leads to a more happy individual and state. On a side note, I read this with the Cambridge edition, I've been really pleased with the two books I've bought so far from the series. They seem to have high quality acid-free paper which will last for a while and contain great introductions, easy to read translations and have plenty of footnotes. I've been getting more things on the Kindle, but this series is one I'll continue to get paper copies of.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Reed

    Spinoza is frustrating. Not simply because he's "hard to read" (there's that), but because of the kind of inferences he feels warranted in making. Spinoza was a rationalist, so he believed (without a doubt) that there are certain immutable truths accessible to human reason. This might be true - I feel pretty confident in asserting that I know, with certainty, that 2 + 2 = 4 - but when he applies his rationalism to theological considerations, his reasoning gets tricky. Take his essay "Of Miracles, Spinoza is frustrating. Not simply because he's "hard to read" (there's that), but because of the kind of inferences he feels warranted in making. Spinoza was a rationalist, so he believed (without a doubt) that there are certain immutable truths accessible to human reason. This might be true - I feel pretty confident in asserting that I know, with certainty, that 2 + 2 = 4 - but when he applies his rationalism to theological considerations, his reasoning gets tricky. Take his essay "Of Miracles," which comprises chapter six of his Theological-Political Treatise. Anyone who is somewhat familiar with Spinoza already knows that, for Spinoza, God = Nature. In this sense, Nature is identified with purported "necessary and immutable" laws governing the universe. It follows, then, that God just is those necessary and immutable laws governing the universe. Accordingly, a miracle, which Spinoza defines as a violation of the necessary and immutable laws governing the universe, necessarily violates God's essence. This line of reasoning, although it seems coherent given Spinoza's definition of God, wrongfully attributes metaphysical necessity to contingent physical laws of the universe. In other words, why believe the laws governing the universe are "necessary and immutable," rather than contingent features of a universe that could have been radically different? If Spinoza intends to identify God with laws of metaphysical necessity, then there appears to be no grounds for discounting miracles, as this would imply that miracles are metaphysically impossible rather than simply (highly) physically improbable. Spinoza puts it this way: "...[N]othing happens in Nature that does not follow from her laws, that her laws cover everything that is conceived by the divine intellect, and that Nature observes a fixed and immutable order - it follows most clearly that the word miracle can be understood only with respect to men's beliefs, and means simply an event whose natural cause we...cannot explain by comparison with any other normal event (73)." Once again, Spinoza presupposes, for whatever reason, that nature is "fixed and immutable," which is clearly an unjustified a priori assumption that follows from Spinoza's concept of God as Nature. But why couldn't God transcend the laws of nature? This seems equally as plausible, and might also explain how, by way of miracles, God intervenes in his creation from time to time. For the above reasons - and for the fact that Spinoza (miraculously) ignores the purported miracle of Christ's resurrection - I have a hard time taking Spinoza's arguments seriously. But I'll be honest, I haven't read past "Of Miracles" and into his political writings, so I may need to give this another shot some time soon.

  23. 4 out of 5

    WT Sharpe

    This was a mixed bag for me. The Treatise was very forward thinking for it's time, but still contained much theological rubbish. Granted, Spinoza lived in a day when it was dangerous to speak certain opinions too plainly, and it was clear that he was hardly a fundamentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt he accorded too much authority to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. That being said, there were some real gems between its covers. From the Preface: "I have often wondered, that This was a mixed bag for me. The Treatise was very forward thinking for it's time, but still contained much theological rubbish. Granted, Spinoza lived in a day when it was dangerous to speak certain opinions too plainly, and it was clear that he was hardly a fundamentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt he accorded too much authority to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. That being said, there were some real gems between its covers. From the Preface: "I have often wondered, that persons who make a boast of professing the Christian religion, namely, love, joy, peace, temperance, and charity to all men, should quarrel with such rancorous animosity, and display daily towards one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues they claim, is the readiest criterion of their faith. Matters have long since come to such a pass, that one can only pronounce a man Christian, Turk, Jew, or Heathen, by his general appearance and attire, by his frequenting this or that place of worship, or employing the phraseology of a particular sect - as for manner of life, it is in all cases the same." From Chapter 20 (the final chapter), a stirring appeal for free speech: "It is far from possible to impose uniformity of speech, for the more rulers strive to curtail freedom of speech, the more obstinately are they resisted; not indeed by the avaricious, the flatterers, and other numskulls, who think supreme salvation consists in filling their stomachs and gloating over their money-bags, but by those whom good education, sound morality, and virtue have rendered more free. Men, as generally constituted, are most prone to resent the branding as criminal of opinions which they believe to be true, and the proscription as wicked of that which inspires them with piety towards God and man; hence they are ready to forswear the laws and conspire against the authorities, thinking it not shameful but honorable to stir up seditions and perpetuate any sort of crime with this end in view. Such being the constitution of human nature, we see that laws directed against opinions affect the generous minded rather than the wicked, and are adapted less for coercing criminals than for irritating the upright; so that they cannot be maintained without great peril to the state. Moreover, such laws are almost always useless, for those who hold that the opinions proscribed are sound, cannot possibly obey the law; whereas those who already reject them as false, accept the law as a kind of privilege, and make such boast of it, that authority is powerless to repeal it, even if such a course be subsequently desired." This was an audiobook version from Librivox read by Chiquito Crasto.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shinynickel

    Off this review: Anthony, we’re going to talk about five books which weigh religion and secularism. I think that’s how we’ve decided to frame this discussion? This will be the first of a series of interviews with various people addressing the same subject from a number of different angles. The first book that I’ve chosen is from a long time ago: 1670. It was written by Spinoza and published after his death. It’s called "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus" and there are a number of reasons why I thin Off this review: Anthony, we’re going to talk about five books which weigh religion and secularism. I think that’s how we’ve decided to frame this discussion? This will be the first of a series of interviews with various people addressing the same subject from a number of different angles. The first book that I’ve chosen is from a long time ago: 1670. It was written by Spinoza and published after his death. It’s called "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus" and there are a number of reasons why I think people should read it. One is that it is way ahead of its time in its understanding of the human nature of traditional religion, and on the place of religion in society. Another reason, which has nothing particularly to do with religion, is that it’s intelligible, unlike Spinoza’s "Ethics", which you really need to have studied quite a lot of philosophy to understand. The "Ethics" is the work of Spinoza’s that people try to read, but most of them get very little out of it. His "Tractatus", by contrast, is intelligible to everybody, doesn’t require any philosophical background, and does give you many of the main themes of Spinoza’s thought. And what are those themes? Well, with regard to God, I suppose the most famous ideas expounded in the "Ethics" is that God is equivalent to nature, in some sense, and so should not be thought of as a personal being.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Brilliant work by a genius. This book is very influential and Spinoza's insights are today and will remain topical so long as men have any sort of religion. Spinosa starts with an analysis of whether it is proper for Judeo Christian theocrats to use divine authority as a basis for their power over society and, once that topic is basically exhausted by rigorous logic, then shifts to an argument that moral choices are personal and allowing individual choice is the best legitimate form of government Brilliant work by a genius. This book is very influential and Spinoza's insights are today and will remain topical so long as men have any sort of religion. Spinosa starts with an analysis of whether it is proper for Judeo Christian theocrats to use divine authority as a basis for their power over society and, once that topic is basically exhausted by rigorous logic, then shifts to an argument that moral choices are personal and allowing individual choice is the best legitimate form of government. As Spinoza himself suggests, emotional readers can skip this book. It's written as an appeal to reason and intellect. For anyone academically inclined, pondering the relation of Church to State, and wondering what forms of government work best, this is a must read. There are powerful arguments that Spinoza's work directly influenced Locke, Montesqueiue, Hume and through them Jefferson, Madison and thus the US's founding Father's decision to remove superstition from the United States Federal Government (anti-establishment clause). (Spinoza's books are I believe listed among Madison's library) Pursuant to Canon Law, Catholics are forbidden to read this book without first receiving permission from your Bishop.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    A formal study of the Bible, with one foot in (forced) respect and sanctity and the other foot in analytical heresy. In short, Spinoza draws a line between Biblical inerrancy (completely true) and Biblical infallibility (correct on spiritual matters, but incorrect science and history), and does from a great knowledge of Hebrew and the text. He debunks the ideas of Miracles because he believes that Nature is an extension of God, and that God cannot go against his own rules. He goes on to then exp A formal study of the Bible, with one foot in (forced) respect and sanctity and the other foot in analytical heresy. In short, Spinoza draws a line between Biblical inerrancy (completely true) and Biblical infallibility (correct on spiritual matters, but incorrect science and history), and does from a great knowledge of Hebrew and the text. He debunks the ideas of Miracles because he believes that Nature is an extension of God, and that God cannot go against his own rules. He goes on to then explain how religion produces obedience and piety in humanity, which is good at a social level, but how only reason and thought can help us grow and explore past basic socialization. He finishes by showing that man has natural right to his own thoughts, and though man gives up many of his rights to the State for the sake of safety, his natural right to reason can never be denied.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    I had an interesting two and a half months with this renegade, excommunicated, 17th-century Jew, who had haunted my reading for a couple of months before I agreed to ponder his ideas. Samuel Shirley's translation is very readable and Spinoza's methodology and prose are crystal clear compared to what he used in his Ethics. His Biblical interpretation foreshadowed the 19th-century German historical-critical movement that transformed Biblical Studies. He provided an interesting perspective on the N I had an interesting two and a half months with this renegade, excommunicated, 17th-century Jew, who had haunted my reading for a couple of months before I agreed to ponder his ideas. Samuel Shirley's translation is very readable and Spinoza's methodology and prose are crystal clear compared to what he used in his Ethics. His Biblical interpretation foreshadowed the 19th-century German historical-critical movement that transformed Biblical Studies. He provided an interesting perspective on the New Testament, perhaps influenced by the radical Protestants he associated with. He argued effectively for a broad toleration for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, with an endorsement of democracy. I engaged Spinoza's writings reluctantly, even grudgingly, but I am glad that I did. 3-1/2 stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    matthew mcdonald

    Started reading the Ethics, but that was hard, so gave up for a while and tried this as a warm-up. Philosophy is fun to read when you get to feel an emotional/intellectual resonance with the author. Basically the same experience as reading a novel that works for you. When you agree with what the author is saying, and you're aware that he was going to get into serious trouble for publishing it, it's easy to feel that human connection with the author. Apparently written after the Ethics, but publish Started reading the Ethics, but that was hard, so gave up for a while and tried this as a warm-up. Philosophy is fun to read when you get to feel an emotional/intellectual resonance with the author. Basically the same experience as reading a novel that works for you. When you agree with what the author is saying, and you're aware that he was going to get into serious trouble for publishing it, it's easy to feel that human connection with the author. Apparently written after the Ethics, but published (anonymously) while Spinoza was alive. For what it's worth, I think he's more or less correct about religion. I'm not sure about his thoughts on government, but maybe I could have read those parts more carefully than I did. I really liked this book, even if I didn't give it 5 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Craig Evans

    I'm on page 279 of 432 of A Theologico-Political Treatise/A Political Treatise: I've now completed the first portion of this two-part publication after having left off at page 120 eight years ago I've taken 6 weeks to get to the end of the first portion. It's been interesting. There were numerous passages in A Theologico-Political Treatise where I thought to myself that those views and events and processes being described by Spinoza could really be applicable to the current political and social I'm on page 279 of 432 of A Theologico-Political Treatise/A Political Treatise: I've now completed the first portion of this two-part publication after having left off at page 120 eight years ago I've taken 6 weeks to get to the end of the first portion. It's been interesting. There were numerous passages in A Theologico-Political Treatise where I thought to myself that those views and events and processes being described by Spinoza could really be applicable to the current political and social and religious climate. Returning the volume to the library today, and I'll check it out again in a few months to read the last 100 pages for the Political Treatise. Finished! Perseverance rewarded. I've taken time to reflect on the content and had been slowed down by the sentance structure and references to concepts described in earlier pages but it was worth the while.

  30. 4 out of 5

    W. Littlejohn

    This book is modernity in nuce. It's all there—historical and textual criticism of Scripture, the development of a universal religion based on reason, the reduction of religion to the ethical, the creation of a full-blown concept of political religion, in which the state becomes the highest good, and the development of a distinctively modern rationale for tolerance. And, thanks to Jonathan Israel's masterful translation, Spinoza really feels like one of us; he speaks our language and our idiom. This book is modernity in nuce. It's all there—historical and textual criticism of Scripture, the development of a universal religion based on reason, the reduction of religion to the ethical, the creation of a full-blown concept of political religion, in which the state becomes the highest good, and the development of a distinctively modern rationale for tolerance. And, thanks to Jonathan Israel's masterful translation, Spinoza really feels like one of us; he speaks our language and our idiom. He is not a 17th-century guy who's starting to think like a modern; he *is* a modern. When people think of the Enlightenment, too often they think of Kant and Hume. But those guys are just picking up the pieces; Spinoza is the genuine article—this is where the Enlightenment really starts.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.