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By Jonathan I. Israel

Within the wake of the clinical Revolution, the overdue 17th and eighteenth centuries observed the total demolition of conventional buildings of authority, medical idea, and trust through the recent philosophy and the philosophes, together with Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. the unconventional Enlightenment performed a component during this progressive technique, which successfully overthrew all justification for monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical strength, in addition to man's dominance over lady, theological dominance of schooling, and slavery. regardless of the current day curiosity within the revolutions of the eighteenth century, the origins and upward push of the novel Enlightenment have got constrained scholarly recognition. the best concern to the circulation discovering its right position in smooth ancient writing is its foreign scope: the unconventional Enlightenment was once no longer French, British, German, Italian, Jewish or Dutch, yet all of those whilst. during this wide-ranging quantity, Jonathan Israel deals a unique interpretation of the unconventional Enlightenment right down to los angeles Mettie and Diderot, of its key exponents. specific emphasis is put on the pivotal function of Spinoza and the frequent underground foreign philosophical flow identified ahead of 1750 as Spinozism.

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There is therefore no such thing as finite reality, it has no truth whatever; according to Spinoza what is, is God and God alone. Therefore the allegations of those who accuse Spinoza of atheism are the direct opposite of the truth; with him there is too much God. (Hegel 1840: vol. 3, 281–2) On Hegel’s reading of Spinoza, nature and the individual disappear in the same identity. Spinoza’s critics, Hegel observes, cannot forgive him for thus annihilating them. His ‘pantheism’, on Hegel’s interpretation, amounts to atheism only in as much as his God is not conceived only as spirit, but also as matter.

But even in these early works there are intimations of what is to come. In the Ethics Spinoza developed, from Cartesian starting points, doctrines that were for the Cartesians outrageous. If Spinoza had lived before Descartes, the French philosopher Henri Bergson observed, he would doubtless have written something other than what he wrote. But ‘given Spinoza living and writing, we were certain to have Spinozism in any case’ (Bergson 1968:134). Concepts of substance, attribute, and mode—adapted by Descartes out of earlier medieval philosophy—undergo extraordinary transformation in Spinoza’s thought.

It discusses an exceptionally wide range of past and present readings of the Ethics, so that the reader gains a sense of the many angles from which this text has been approached… It offers an interpretation of the whole of the Ethics, and culminates in a fascinating and nuanced discussion of its final section about the intellectual love of God. ’ Susan James, Girton College, Cambridge Written for students coming to Spinoza for the first time, Spinoza and the Ethics is the ideal guide to this rich and illuminating work.

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