Benedict Spinoza's Liberatory Philosophy

We may define a free philosopher as one who is out of step with his or her times, and who, both in writings and life, calls into question the conventions of the time, instead of confirming their legitimacy. It took many hundreds of years for a significant body of work to be composed that had this free quality to it: Baruch d'Espinosa, (or Benedict (the "well-Spoken") Spinoza), son of Marano Jews, excommunicated from his synagogue for atheism, maker of lenses and 'peeping tubes' for the new scientific studies, courageous republican in the face of royalist authority, critic of miracles and superstition, correspondent with philosophers and scientists around Europe, and the greatest of metaphysical ethicists. His life and works are a model of subversive thinking.

We will read his main work, the Ethics, read slowly and dialogically, seeking its anarchic qualities as a model for contemporary life. This will require alternating between thinking with Spinoza and conducting phenomenological inquiry in order to trace the path and shape of the ideas in contemporary life. In short, we will test Spinoza's philosophy in our own lives, as he meant for readers to do.

Method/Procedures: shared inquiry, close reading of philosophical system, phenomenology
Schedule: Mon, Thur 9 - 11 am
Location: Democracy Center, Cesar Chavez Room
Fees: negotiable
Teacher: Eric Buck
Week-to-Week topics

Texts available at no cost:
Bennett's contemporary translation and simplification of the //Ethics// and the //Treatise on Theology and Politics//
Elwes translation of the Ethics
Elwes translation at Project Gutenberg
Elwes translation of the Ethics, extensively hyperlinked and annotated
3 works in Latin: the Ethics, the Treatise on the Improvement of the Understanding, and the Political Treatise

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