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A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works First Edition Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691000671
ISBN-10: 0691000670
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  • A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works
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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

This anthology of the work of Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) presents the text of Spinoza's masterwork, the 'Ethics, ' in what is now the standard translation by Edwin Curley.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (February 7, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691000670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691000671
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By David R. Scott on August 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Albert Einstein was asked in a telegram by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein whether he believed in God. Einstein responded by telegram: "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings." This famous quote is what lead me to seek out and read 'A Spinoza Reader.'

The book was one of the most challenging that I have ever read.

First, for those who are wondering what is in it and what might be left out, 'A Spinoza Reader' contains the entirety of 'The Ethics', which constitutes most of this book, and so it has only a limited number of Spinoza's other writings. Those few are carefully selected from his primary published work known as the Theological-Political Treatise ('The Ethics' was unpublished in Spinoza's lifetime), along with some unpublished fragments that preceded and foreshadowed `The Ethics', and several letters to his friends which discuss his ideas a little less formally. These letters are helpful in spelling out both what Spinoza means by many of his more abstract fundamental concepts, and how clearly he (I dare say wrongly) supposed his logic and meaning were explicitly self-evident.

`The Spinoza Reader' also contains a very helpful 25 page introduction by the translator ('The Ethics' was originally written in Latin with some Dutch), which covers key biographical facts and other background material, so that one need not know much at all about Spinoza to get a good cursory appreciation for his ideas just from the book alone.
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Format: Paperback
This volume of excerpts from Spinoza's writings, selected and translated by Edwin Curley, provides a surprisingly accessible overview of the life and thought of rationalism's greatest "saint." Curley's translations are crisp, clear and accurate, and his selections well-chosen. The reader unfamiliar with Spinoza and with no background in philosophy is advised to begin with Roger Scruton's _Spinoza_ volume in the Past Masters series, also available from Amazon, and then move on to this extremely helpful volume.
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Format: Paperback
Curley does a decent job of translating Spinoza, although his penchant for identifying the Latin vocabulary with English cognates, almost without exception, sometimes lacks sensitivity to the content at hand. Both his introductory essay and selection of texts illustrate his peculiar, if not intriguing, analytical interpretation of Spinoza. For beginning readers of Spinoza, these issues will certainly not obstruct the view of Spinoza's extraordinary system. Advanced students who have not mastered their Latin, should consult Shirley or, dare I say, Elwes, for additional perspective on Spinoza's ideas.
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Format: Paperback
This literally wonderful introduction to one of the world's great philosophers by one of his major English translators can be a revelation. It concentrates on The Ethics, the work in which Spinoza lays down his thoughts on God and emotions "geometrically." Spinoza took time out from this, his major work, to write the Theological-Political Treatise-a work which, by showing the Bible to be an historical document tied to its time, helped usher in the modern, free state with its separation of church and state, freedom of speech and freedom to worship. Spinoza's ancestors were persecuted in the Spanish Inquisition, moving to Portugal and then to Holland, which showed more toleration; yet Spinoza's own beliefs, based on the universality of reason, the proto-scientific philosophy of Descartes, and the political requirement for freedom to understand the universe without autocratic nincompoops who didn't know what they were talking about, led him to be excommunicated from the Dutch community of Portuguese Jews when he was 24. The Theological-Political Treatise meant at first for a small circle of Dutch Protestant friends, was a key document in the 17th century and that eventually led the civilized world (e.g., the founding fathers of the United States) to realize that, since biblical interpretation depended on a knowledge of history and language, correct understanding of the Bible and God demanded reason. Knowledge of God, as the early, non-institutionalized Protestants realized, was accessible to the individual without clerical interference. It could not be monopolized by a priestly caste but was available to any reader of scripture.Read more ›
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