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SPINOZA'S DISTURBING THESIS: POWER, NORMS AND FICTION IN THE TRACTATUS THEOLOGICO- POLITICUS

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Abstract:

This paper treats a recalcitrant problem in Spinoza scholarship, namely, how to reconcile the conception of 'power' in his political writings with that found in his Ethics. Some have doubted the capacity of Spinoza's political philosophy to yield an adequate normative theory. If he is unable to provide a normative ground for political philosophy then perhaps this exposes a problem in Spinoza's philosophy taken as a whole. I argue that the considerable normative resources of his ethical and political philosophy, as well their continuing relevance today, are best appreciated through attending to his notion of the exemplar.

Keywords: Exemplar of human nature; Imagination as knowledge; Qualitative power; Quantitative power; fiction; good and evil; natural right; normative political theory; philosophy and theology; prophecy; right and power; right to think

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Philosophy, SOPHI, Main Quad A 14, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia., Email: Moira.Gatens@usyd.edu.au

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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