Customer Review

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spinoza at his best., May 12, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: A Theologico-Political Treatise / A Political Treatise (v. 1) (Perfect Paperback)
The Theologico-Political Treatise is often advertised as a manifesto for religious
freedom. If that were all, it would hardly be worthwhile for a Westerner to read it these
days. In fact, it may be Spinoza's most important book for us. It includes an essay on
the principles of interpreting the Bible which any serious reader of anything will also find
useful, an important essay on the ancient Hebrew religion, a clarification of the
distinction between necessity-as-law and law-as-fiat, the distinction which is one of the
bases of his Ethics, and a discussion of the moral principles of government. It is also a
pleasant book to read, being free of the pseudo-Euclidean format which has driven so
many students to hard liquor and Wittgenstein.
The Political Treatise, though
including much of no interest to the modern reader, also contains a continuation of the
discussion of existence and natural law, especially as they pertain to sovereignty and the
relationship between the individual and the state, a discussion of the nature of contract,
and a discussion of the nature of ownership, with an important aside on wills, those
strange documents by which a person seems to continue to control his property after he
is gone. The closing discussion of the natural inferiority of women ought to help Dover
(and Amazon) sell some copies to feminists, for use as ammunition.
The
introduction by the translator is good, including a short, informative and amusing
biography with an evaluation of the primary sources, a good summary of the Ethics, and
an authoritative explanation for the fuzziness of some of Spinoza's writing: "[Spinoza's
Latin] vocabulary is restricted; his style is wanting in flexibility.". The Biographical Note
is especially useful to Net researchers, who sometimes have trouble getting information
from home on the older sources.
This volume is not only a pleasure, and required
reading for everyone interested in modern Western philosophy; it is also important for
anyone interested in constitutional and international law
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 29, 2011 5:14:28 PM PDT
Excellent review! I'm writing my thesis on Spinoza, and consider him the most important philosopher.
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