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SPINOZA'S THEOLOGICAL-POLITICAL TREATISE AND LESSING'S FRAGMENTENSTREIT

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Scholars agree that Lessing deliberately incited the infamous 'Fragmentenstreit', but they limit his role to moderator of the conflict. However, I argue Lessing takes up a positive Spinozist position in the debate, discernable in three ways: first, by his claim, 'the Bible obviously contains more than what pertains to religion', second, by his distinction between the 'spirit' and 'letter', and third, by his practical mode of theologizing. After an overview of the debate and discussion of the relevant themes in Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise, I turn to Lessing to show how these three ways emanate from and resonate with Spinoza's Treatise.
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Keywords: Benedict de Spinoza; German Enlightenment Thought; Gotthold Ephraim Lessing; Political Theology; Theological-Political Treatise

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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