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Spinoza's Critique of Religion Paperback – January 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0226776880 ISBN-10: 0226776883

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226776883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226776880
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #975,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

About the Author

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was one of the preeminent political philosophers of the twentieth century. He is the author of many books, among them The Political Philosophy of Hobbes, Natural Right and History,and Spinoza’s Critique of Religion, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Nicq MacDonald on October 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Leo Strauss, intellectual godfather of neoconservativism and intellectual bogeyman of the postmodern left, is always sure to provoke thought in his readers. Here, in one of his earliest works, he takes on Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise, the very root of the enlightenment critique of religious revelation.

According to Strauss, Spinoza's critique is rooted in the prior philosophical work of Maimonides, da Costa, and Hobbes. Unlike Maimonides, who tries to reconcile reason and faith, or Hobbes, who believes in the necessity of a "religious lie" for political control, Spinoza believes that man can live by reason alone. According to Strauss, Spinoza's critique is flawed- though the philosopher can live without revelation, revelation is a necessity for the populous at large. Strauss evaluates Spinoza's critiques of both Christianity and Judaism, as well as where his philosophy intersects and diverges from Calvinism- the major trend of theological thought in the Netherlands during Spinoza's own time.

A valuable book for students of philosophy, politics, and anyone trying to understand the origins of our modern separation between church and state.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
There is a single idea held by the thinkers that Leo Strauss discusses in this perceptive book. Each recognized that the general population turned to religion because they were searching a life that is devoid of anxiety and pain, a metaphorical return to the Garden of Eden. Each recognized that people may think that religion removes these burdens, but by turning to religion, they moved from the kettle into the fire, for religion encumbers people with a host of responsibilities and bother.

These thinkers were correct in stating that religion adds responsibilities, but they were wrong in saying that humans have a right to a tranquil life. They did not see that the tranquil life they sought is the non-human vegetative life of a plant or animal. They failed to understand what the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) taught - that humans were created with a mind and have a duty to develop it to improve themselves and society. This task is not easy. It is difficult and burdensome. It requires constant, even daily effort. But it is the human thing to do.

Religion can be an opiate, as Karl Marx (1818-1883) wrote. It can conceal concerns and fears, as Epicurus said. However, if a religion does so it is wrong. If, on the other hand, religion is practiced in a way that creates challenges that stimulate an individual to improve, then it is a proper guide.

Strauss' book is good because it turns our minds to the difference between passively seeking tranquility in religion or actively looking to improve ourselves and society.
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