Spinoza’s Book of Life: Freedom and Redemption in the Ethics

Most readers of Spinoza treat him as a pure metaphysician, a grim determinist or a stoic moralist, but none of these descriptions captures the author of the “Ethics”, argues Steven Smith in this book. Offering a new reading of Spinoza’s masterpiece, Smith asserts that the “Ethics” is a celebration of human freedom and its attendant joys and responsibilities and should be placed among the great founding documents of the Enlightenment. Smith’s book treats the famous “geometrical method” of the “Ethics” as a form of moral rhetoric, a model for the construction of individuality. It also presents the “Ethics” as a companion to Spinoza’s major work of political philosophy, the “Theologico-Political Treatise”, each work helping to explore the problem of freedom. Affirming Spinoza’s centrality for both critics and defenders of modernity, the book should be of value to students of political theory, philosophy and intellectual history.

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