HOME

TheInfoList




Written by the Dutch philosopher
Benedictus Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Port ...

Benedictus Spinoza
, the ''Tractatus Theologico-Politicus'' (''TTP'') or ''Theologico-Political Treatise'' was one of the most controversial texts of the
early modern period The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, adve ...
. In it, Spinoza expounds his views on contemporary Jewish and Christian religion and critically analyses the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
which underlies both. He argues what the best roles for
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine ''State Magazine'' is a digital magazine published by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Global Talent Management. Its mission is to acquaint Department o ...
and
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
should be and concludes that a degree of
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
and
freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philoso ...

freedom of speech
and religion works best, like in
Amsterdam Amsterdam (, , ) is the Capital of the Netherlands, capital and Municipalities of the Netherlands, most populous city of the Netherlands with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the City Region of Amsterdam, urban ar ...

Amsterdam
, while the state remains paramount within reason. The goal of the state is to guarantee the freedom of the citizens. Religious leaders should not meddle in
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

politics
. Spinoza prepares the ground for his work on metaphysics and psychology ''
Ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...
'', published posthumously in 1677, for which he anticipated harsh criticism.


Historical context


Publication history

The treatise was published anonymously in 1670 by Jan Rieuwertsz in Amsterdam. In order to protect the author and publisher from political retribution, the title page identified the city of publication as Hamburg and the publisher as Henricus Künraht. It was written in
New Latin New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or modern Latin) is the revival of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, know ...
rather than the vernacular Dutch in an attempt to avoid
censorship Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information. This may be done on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by governments ...

censorship
by the secular Dutch authorities.


Treatment of religion

In the treatise, Spinoza put forth his most systematic critique of Judaism, and all organized religion in general. Spinoza argued that theology and philosophy must be kept separate, particularly in the reading of
scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of ...
. Whereas the goal of theology is obedience, philosophy aims at understanding rational truth. Scripture does not teach philosophy and thus cannot be made to conform with it, otherwise the meaning of scripture will be distorted. Conversely, if reason is made subservient to scripture, then, Spinoza argues, "the
prejudice Prejudice can be an affective Affect, in psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. ...
s of a common people of long ago... will gain a hold on his understanding and darken it." Spinoza
argued
argued
that purportedly supernatural occurrences, namely prophecy and miracles, have in fact natural explanations. He argued that God acts solely by the laws of his own nature and rejected the view that God acts for a particular purpose or telos. For Spinoza, those who believe that God acts for some end are delusional and projecting their hopes and fears onto the workings of nature.


Scriptural interpretation

Spinoza was not only the real father of modern
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysics
and
moral A moral (from Latin ''morālis'') is a message that is conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a narrative, story or wikt:event, event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader, or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly enca ...

moral
and
political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or menta ...

political philosophy
, but also of the so-called higher criticism of the Bible. He was particularly attuned to the idea of
interpretation Interpretation may refer to: Culture * Aesthetic interpretation, an explanation of the meaning of a work of art * Allegorical interpretation, an approach that assumes a text should not be interpreted literally * Dramatic Interpretation, an event i ...
; he felt that all organized religion was simply the institutionalized defense of particular interpretations. He rejected in its entirety the view that
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
composed the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch by Christians or
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
by Jews. He provided an analysis of the structure of the Bible which demonstrated that it was essentially a compiled text with many different authors and diverse origins; in his view, it was not "revealed" all at once. His ''Tractatus Theologico-Politicus'' undertook to show that
Scriptures Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of ...

Scriptures
properly understood gave no authority for the militant intolerance of the clergy who sought to stifle all dissent by the use of force. To achieve his object, Spinoza had to show what is meant by a proper understanding of the Bible, which gave him occasion to apply criticism to the Bible. His approach stood in stark contrast to contemporaries like
John Bunyan John Bunyan (; baptised 30 November 162831 August 1688) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early m ...

John Bunyan
,
Manasseh ben Israel Manoel Dias Soeiro (1604 – 20 November 1657), better known by his Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is ...
, and militant clerics. Spinoza, who permitted no supernatural rival to
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...

Nature
and no rival authority to the civil government of the state, rejected also all claims that Biblical literature should be treated in a manner entirely different from that in which any other document is treated that claims to be historical. His contention that the Bible "is in parts imperfect, corrupt, erroneous, and inconsistent with itself, and that we possess but fragments of it" roused great storm at the time, and was mainly responsible for his evil repute for a century at least.For this section cf. espec. — see also A. Wolf's, "Spinoza, the Man and His Thought", 1933;
Antonio Damasio Antonio Damasio ( pt, António Damásio) is a Portuguese-American neuroscientist. He is currently the David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience, as well as Professor of Psychology, Philosophy, and Neurology, at the University of Southern California, a ...

Antonio Damasio
, ''Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain'', William Heinemann, 2003, esp. ch. 6, 224–261;
Richard McKeon Richard McKeon (; April 26, 1900 – March 31, 1985) was an American philosopher and longtime professor at the University of Chicago. His ideas formed the basis for the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Life, times, and influences McKeon ...
, ''The Philosophy of Spinoza: The Unity of His Thought'', Ox Bow Pr., 1928; Ray Monk & Frederic Raphael, ''The Great Philosophers''. Phoenix, 2000, ''s.v.'' "Spinoza", pp. 135–174.
Nevertheless, many have gradually adopted his views, agreeing with him that the real "word of God", or true religion, is not something written in books but "inscribed on the heart and mind of man".Cf. ''The correspondence of Spinoza'', G. Allen & Unwin ltd., 1928, p. 289. See also John Laird
''Journal of Philosophical Studies''
Vol. 3, No. 12 (Oct., 1928), pp. 544–545.
Many scholars and ministers of religion now praise Spinoza's services in the correct interpretation of Scripture as a document of first rate importance in the progressive development of human thought and conduct.


Treatment of Judaism

The treatise also rejected the Jewish notion of " chosenness"; to Spinoza, all peoples are on par with each other, as God has not elevated one over the other. Spinoza also offered a
sociological Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of ...
explanation as to how the Jewish people had managed to survive for so long, despite facing relentless persecution. In his view, the Jews had been preserved due to a combination of
Gentile Gentile () is a word that usually means "someone who is not a Jews, Jew". Other groups claiming affiliation with Israelites, groups that claim Israelite heritage sometimes use the term ''gentile'' to describe outsiders, notably Mormons. More ...

Gentile
hatred and Jewish
separatism Separatism is the advocacy of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. As with secession, separatism conventionally refers to full political separation. Groups simply seeking greater ...
. He also gave one final, crucial reason for the continued Jewish presence, which in his view, was by itself sufficient to maintain the survival of the nation forever:
circumcision Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin The foreskin is the double-layered fold of smooth muscle tissue, blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system that transport blood throughout the human body. Th ...

circumcision
. It was the ultimate
anthropological Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an ...
expression of bodily marking, a tangible symbol of separateness which was the ultimate identifier. Spinoza also posited a novel view of the Torah; he claimed that it was essentially a political constitution of the ancient state of Israel. In his view, because the state no longer existed, its constitution could no longer be valid. He argued that the Torah was thus suited to a particular time and place; because times and circumstances had changed, the Torah could no longer be regarded as a valid document.


Spinoza's political theory

Spinoza agreed with
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first sp ...
that if each man had to fend for himself, with nothing but his own right arm to rely upon, then the life of man would be "nasty, brutish, and short". The truly human life is only possible in an organised community, that is, a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine ''State Magazine'' is a digital magazine published by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Global Talent Management. Its mission is to acquaint Department o ...
or
commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good Common good Common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

commonwealth
. The state ensures security of life, limb and property; it brings within reach of every individual many necessaries of life which he could not produce by himself; and it sets free sufficient time and energy for the higher development of human powers. Now the existence of a state depends upon a kind of implicit agreement on the part of its members or citizens to obey the sovereign authority which governs it. In a state no one can be allowed to do just as he pleases. Every citizen is obliged to obey its laws; and he is not free even to interpret the laws in a special manner. This looks at first like a loss of freedom on the part of the individuals, and the establishment of an absolute power over them. Yet that is not really so. In the first place, without the advantages of an organised state the average individual would be so subject to dangers and hardships of all kinds and to his own passions that he could not be called free in any real sense of the term, least of all in the sense that Spinoza used it. Man needs the state not only to save him from others but also from his own lower impulses and to enable him to live a life of reason, which alone is truly human. In the second place, state sovereignty is never really absolute. It is true that almost any kind of government is better than none, so that it is worth bearing much that is irksome rather than disturb the peace. But a reasonably wise government will even in its own interest endeavour to secure the good will and cooperation of its citizens by refraining from unreasonable measures, and will permit or even encourage its citizens to advocate reforms, provided they employ peaceable means. In this way the state really rests, in the last resort, on the united will of the citizens, on what
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, ; ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Republic of Geneva, Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment throughout Europe, as ...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
, who read Spinoza, subsequently called the "
general will In political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to inte ...
". Spinoza sometimes writes as if the state upheld absolute sovereignty. But that is due mainly to his determined opposition to every kind of ecclesiastical control over it. Though he is prepared to support what may be called a state religion, as a kind of spiritual cement, yet his account of this religion is such as to make it acceptable to the adherents of any one of the historic creeds, to
deists Deism ( or ; derived from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throug ...
,
pantheists Pantheism is the belief that reality is identical with divinity, or that Everything, all things compose an all-encompassing, Immanence, immanent god. Pantheist Belief#Religious belief, belief does not recognize a distinct personal god, anthropo ...

pantheists
and all others, provided they are not fanatical believers or unbelievers. It is really in the interest of freedom of thought and speech that Spinoza would entrust the civil government with something approaching absolute sovereignty in order to effectively resist the tyranny of the militant churches.


Human power consists in strength of mind and intellect

One of the most striking features in Spinoza's political theory is his basic principle that "right is might." This principle he applied systematically to the whole problem of government, and seemed rather pleased with his achievement, inasmuch as it enabled him to treat political theory in a scientific spirit, as if he were dealing with
applied mathematics Applied mathematics is the application of mathematical methods by different fields such as physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and be ...
. The identification or correlation of right with power has caused much misunderstanding. People supposed that Spinoza reduced justice to brute force. But Spinoza was very far from approving ''
Realpolitik ''Realpolitik'' (; ) is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical app ...
''. In the philosophy of Spinoza the term "power" (as should be clear from his
moral philosophy Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of min ...
) means a great deal more than physical force. In a passage near the end of his ''Political Treatise'' he states explicitly that "human power chiefly consists in strength of mind and intellect" — it consists in fact, of all the human capacities and aptitudes, especially the highest of them. Conceived correctly, Spinoza's whole philosophy leaves ample scope for ideal motives in the life of the individual and of the community.


Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy

Spinoza discusses the principal kinds of states, or the main types of government, namely,
Monarchy A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a ...
,
Aristocracy Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: A ...
, and
Democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

Democracy
. Each has its own peculiarities and needs special safeguards, if it is to realise the primary function of a state. Monarchy may degenerate into
Tyranny A tyrant (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following peri ...
unless it is subjected to various constitutional checks which will prevent any attempt at
autocracy Autocracy is a system of government in which supreme power over a State (polity), state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (ex ...
. Similarly, Aristocracy may degenerate into
Oligarchy Oligarchy (; ) is a form of power structure A power structure is an overall system of influence between any individual and every other individual within any selected group of people. A description of a power structure would capture the way in ...
and needs analogous checks. On the whole, Spinoza favours Democracy, by which he meant any kind of representative government. In the case of Democracy the community and the government are more nearly identical than in the case of Monarchy or Aristocracy; consequently a democracy is least likely to experience frequent collisions between the people and the government and so is best adapted to secure and maintain that peace, which it is the business of the state to secure.


Reception and influence

It is unlikely that Spinoza's ''Tractatus'' ever had political support of any kind, with attempts being made to suppress it even before Dutch magistrate
Johan de Witt Johan de Witt (; 24 September 1625 – 20 August 1672), ''lord of Zuid- en Noord-Linschoten, Snelrewaard, Hekendorp and IJsselvere'', was a Dutch statesman and a major political figure in the Dutch Republic in the mid-17th century, when it ...

Johan de Witt
's murder in 1672. In 1673, it was publicly condemned by the and banned officially the following year. Harsh criticism of the TTP began to appear almost as soon as it was published. One of the first, and most notorious, critiques was by Leipzig professor
Jakob Thomasius Jakob Thomasius ( la, Jacobus Thomasius; 27 August 1622 – 9 September 1684) was a German academic philosopher and jurist. He is now regarded as an important founding figure in the scholarly study of the history of philosophy Philosophy ...
in 1670. The British philosopher G. E. Moore suggested to
Ludwig Wittgenstein Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( ; ; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationali ...

Ludwig Wittgenstein
that he title one of his works "
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus The ''Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus'' (widely abbreviated and cited as TLP) is a book-length philosophical work by the Austrian philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of genera ...
" as a homage to Spinoza's treatise.Nils-Eric Sahlin, ''The Philosophy of F. P. Ramsey'' (1990), p. 227.


See also

*
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first sp ...
*
Moses Maimonides Moses ben Maimon ; (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides ( ) grc-gre, Μωυσής Μαϊμωνίδης ; la, Moses Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( he, רמב״ם),, for ''Rabbeinu Mōše bēn Maimun'', "Our Ra ...
* Abraham ibn Ezra *
Toleration Toleration is the allowing, permitting, or acceptance Acceptance in human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence ...
* ''
Tractatus Politicus ''Tractatus politicus'' (''TP'') or ''Political Treatise'' was the last treatise written by Baruch Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict ...
''


Notes


References

* Israel, Jonathan I. ''Radical Enlightenment''. Oxford University Press: 2001.


External links


Spinoza and Two Views of God


(English translation by A. H. Gosset, Introduction by Robert Harvey Monro Elwes, 1883)

(English translation by Robert Harvey Monro Elwes)
''Tractatus Theologico-Politicus'' – Full text in Latin




* ttp://www.earlymoderntexts.com Contains a version of this work, slightly modified for easier reading
''Spinoza as a Prophet of Reason''
a graduate-level research paper
Note on the text and translation – Cambridge Books Online
* {{Authority control 1670 books Anonymous works Criticism of Judaism Books critical of religion Philosophy of religion literature Political philosophy literature Works by Baruch Spinoza
Treatises:''This article is about the literary form of treatise, tractate or tractatus. See also Tract (literature) tract of 1820 A tract is a literature, literary work and, in current usage, usually religious in nature. The notion of what constitutes a t ...
Censored books