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Spinoza on the Politics of the Passions

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Both Spinoza's replacement of the Cartesian ego by the notion of an all-inclusive substance called 'Deus sive Natura' and his analysis of man's passionate life seem to question the relevance of the distinction between the public and private spheres. His emphasis on the need to establish powerful states, however, including his insistence on the necessity to demand obedience to the laws of the land, implies a recognition of the wisdom to uphold constitutional boundaries between the public and the private. According to Spinoza, freedom demands the execution of force by the political authorities, and private sentiments the expression of which may be harmful to the public good should not be tolerated.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1191/478003805cs036oa

Affiliations: Erasmus University, Rotterdam

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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