Spinoza’s Book of Life

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Freedom and Redemption in the Ethics

Steven B. Smith

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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 B. Smith in this intriguing 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.

Two aspects of Smith’s book distinguish it from other studies. It treats the famous “geometrical method” of the Ethics as a form of moral rhetoric, a model for the construction of individuality. And it 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 will be of value to students of political theory, philosophy, and intellectual history.

Steven B. Smith is Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

“This important book dispels a number of major misunderstandings about Spinoza and shows his importance for an understanding of modernity.”—David Novak, University of Toronto

"Smith is a graceful and lucid writer and his emphasis on the "theological-political" context of even Spinoza's more difficult metaphysical doctrines is useful and redresses an imbalance in the literature."—Abraham Socher, Religious Studies Review
ISBN: 9780300100198
Publication Date: November 10, 2003
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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