All posts tagged: Spinoza

Was Spinoza an Atheist? The Theological-Political Treatise

Was Spinoza an Atheist? The Theological-Political Treatise

  Reactions on Baruch Spinoza’s thought have overwhelmingly focused on his Ethics, and particularly the metaphysical system laid out in the first two sections of the Ethics. However, the works Spinoza was dedicated to in his later years were predominantly political in their focus, and his politics are, in turn, deeply concerned with the role of religion and the authority granted to scripture.   The Tractatus Theologico-Politicus  Politics in an Oyster House, by Richard Caton Woodville, 1848. Source: The Walters Art Museum   Spinoza seems to have been, effectively, an atheist, or at least to have such a radically different conception of God from his religious contemporaries that he was certainly read as one. Spinoza decided to analyze the function of religion in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670) (TTP), primarily as an instrument of government.   He considers religion to be a tool by which obedience can be encouraged and through which simple moral imperatives can be effectively communicated. The resulting political disposition is undoubtedly Hobbesian, with a strong emphasis on the necessity of a lone …