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A Theologico-Political Treatise and A Political Treatise

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,128 ratings  ·  116 reviews
One of the most original and penetrating philosophers of all time, Spinoza is also one of the clearest and easiest to understand. His works constitute an important adjunct to understanding Goethe, Hegel, Schelling, Coleridge, Whitehead, Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein, and other writers who were influenced by his thinking. Spinoza's works retain an endless wealth of lucidly exp ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 10th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1670)
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Vince Clancy He can be! Applying mathematical principles to philosophy can be very tiring-I hated geometry in school! I did, however, just finish reading "A Book F…moreHe can be! Applying mathematical principles to philosophy can be very tiring-I hated geometry in school! I did, however, just finish reading "A Book Forged in Hell" by Steven Nadler. The book helped explain Spinoza a lot. He was already interesting in that he was banned by both the Jews and Christians(the Jews excommunicated him). He was definitely a champion of his times; not that I'm into secularism, he was the supposed originator of it.(less)
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God is nature, and nature is God

An in-depth incursion, by an excommunicated Jew*, into the authorship of the Pentateuch and other Old Testament books. Moses at [the] stake. An insightful analysis of the language, by an expert in Hebrew language, as Spinoza was. The writings of the Apostles are approached too.

Finally, the analysis of the foundations of the State, the nature of the Law....and the main point of Baruch Spinoza: the King is not above criticism, but he may be the object o
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One quote review.
An excerpt from the book:

"The affirmations and the negations of 'God' always involve necessity or truth; so that, for example, if God said to Adam that He did not wish him to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it would have involved a contradiction that Adam should have been able to eat of it, and would, therefore, have been impossible that he should have so eaten, for the Divine command would have involved an eternal necessity and truth. But since Scripture neverthe
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Enlightenment book on tolerance. Argues that scripture is not just interpreted subjectively but was written subjectively, because God can communicate to men only elliptically, using symbolism and cultural tropes. Calls for intellectual freedom all over the place.

"[P]eople must be governed in such a way that they can live in harmony, even though they openly hold different and contradictory opinions. We cannot doubt that this is the best way of ruling, and has the least disadvantages, since it
Kelly Head
Like Nietzsche, who adored Spinoza and called him "the purest philosopher," and Hobbes, whom Spinoza had read and admired, there is a certain brutal honesty in Spinoza's philosophy that comes through vividly in the Theological-Political Treatise. This short work, produced in Amsterdam in the 17th-century at the height of Calvin's influence, was actually written after his more famous Ethics, though published before it. Spinoza here describes his views of the relationship between Scripture, the St ...more

June 2007

Philosophy, the Elite, and the Future

"Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favored by fortune..." Thus begins one of the greatest books in the history of philosophy. Spinoza is an esoteric writer; he doesn't shout everything he has to say, though an attentive reader has a chance, however slight, to discern at least part of it. The existence of this philosophical-political esotericism, first adequately
Griffin Wilson
Classic work in philosophy, politics, and theology which laid the groundwork for modern biblical criticism. Obviously his speculations of the authorship of the Old Testament are now quite outdated, but his thoughts concerning interpretation and philosophy of religion are still quite relevant and interesting.

Spinoza takes a "third way" when it comes to interpreting the scriptures. One school (Augustine, Maimonides, Ibn-Rushd etc.) advocated making the scriptures subservient to reason if they do n
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most radical kind of Liberalism you will ever be able to survey from 17th century thought, maybe
Diyar Ahmed
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you wanna read an extraordinary research on religion, prophets, miracle, scriptures based on philosophical arguments this book is the right choice. It is also an analysis of the bible by a science called philology.
Spinoza argues that the bible we see today is not the actual revelation of god rather it is just telling stories of the prophets after hundreds of years of their death.
And finally it talks about the style of ruling of Jews from the days of Moses and the factors that made their emp
Otto Lehto
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there ever was a philosopher capable of endearing himself to the devoted and skeptical alike, it was Spinoza. Through his courageous example, we can learn to love God/Nature/Truth, and love to use our reason.

The philosopher's work on the Bible is a groundbreaking exposition of the historical conditions that underlie religious texts. It explains the Bible in strikingly modern, critical terms, and in line with Spinoza's other work, it provides an interpretation of God in rational, naturalistic,
Kamran Swanson
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: Published anonymously in 1670 Netherlands, Spinoza's attempt here is to address and critique the widespread religious beliefs and biblical interpretations that people use to justify various moral and political beliefs. Spinoza's ultimate stance is that the Bible is written by human hands, that prophets have insight to divine will but dress their stories in human imagination, that miracles are a testament to our own ignorance rather than supernatural intervention, and that the only true ...more
Alan Johnson
Dec 29, 2015 marked it as consulted-read-earlier-translation  ·  review of another edition
I read the R. H. M. Elwes English translation of Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) and Political Treatise (unfinished manuscript written shortly before Spinoza's death) in the spring of 1967 when I took a course on these writings. Since I do not know Latin, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of any particular translation of Latin into English. However, I am aware that the Straussians and the Focus Philosophical Library (now an imprint of Hackett Publishing Company) attempt English tr ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
As tedious as watching re-runs of "Seinfield". I really enjoyed the author's "Ethics". This book was painful because he's constantly quoting 'scripture' both new and old testament. He painfully lays the biblical foundation that he uses in his "Ethics". Nicest thing I can say for this book is that it's no worse than most Liberal Theological books available today would be.

I enjoy Star Trek. I'm not going to argue the truth and the wisdom of the Prime Directive by selectively quoting from different
I like Spinoza a lot, but this was nowhere near as good as the Ethics. That said, there's still a great deal of wisdom in here. What I loved about the Ethics was that Spinoza managed to forge an entirely new path. However, in the Tractatus, he relies far too much on Biblical exegesis and what have you. Boring. But I can imagine that for religious folk, this would be a really refreshing book to read, both in its Biblical exegesis and its claims of the commensurability of religion and reason.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing work for seventeenth century! I have to admit that I just purchased bible on tape to try to keep up with the biblical analysis offered here :)
Jackson Cyril
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that begins as a stunning example of biblical philology which then turns into a fierce defense of democracy and individual freedom. Spinoza is equally at home debunking biblical myths and totalitarian government.
Muath Aziz
What I understand from Spinoza is that God is Logic and Causality, God is Nature of Things, Nature of Things is an absolute universal Truth and can't be broken, that's God isn't it?

If a prophet dreamt of God commanding him, then these commands came from the prophet's Imagination itself, but that's fine, Imagination is part of Nature after all, so it is of humans psychology to look for God and worship him. So what should we take from Prophets and Scriptures?

We have Reasoning, that's part of our N
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deep-knowledge
Georgia Leatherdale Gilholy
You Spin-oza me right round baby, right round.
David S. T.
“Since love of God is the highest felicity and happiness of man, his final end and the aim of all his actions, it follows that he alone observes the divine law who is concerned to love God not from fear of punishment nor love of something else, such as pleasure, fame, ect., but from the single fact that he knows God, or that he knows that the knowledge and love of God is the highest good”. (pg 60)

Spinoza's Theological-Politcal Treasise has intrigued me for a while, here was one of the earlier bo
Spinoza is frustrating. Not simply because he's "hard to read" (there's that), but because of the kind of inferences he feels warranted in making. Spinoza was a rationalist, so he believed (without a doubt) that there are certain immutable truths accessible to human reason. This might be true - I feel pretty confident in asserting that I know, with certainty, that 2 + 2 = 4 - but when he applies his rationalism to theological considerations, his reasoning gets tricky.

Take his essay "Of Miracles,
WT Sharpe
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a mixed bag for me. The Treatise was very forward thinking for it's time, but still contained much theological rubbish. Granted, Spinoza lived in a day when it was dangerous to speak certain opinions too plainly, and it was clear that he was hardly a fundamentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt he accorded too much authority to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

That being said, there were some real gems between its covers. From the Preface:

"I have often wondered, that
Mason Mathew
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Spinoza got excommunicated and summarily thrown out of his synagogue for writing this so you know it's gonna be good.
Dec 28, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Off this review:

Anthony, we’re going to talk about five books which weigh religion and secularism. I think that’s how we’ve decided to frame this discussion? This will be the first of a series of interviews with various people addressing the same subject from a number of different angles.

The first book that I’ve chosen is from a long time ago: 1670. It was written by Spinoza and published after his death. It’s called "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus" and there are a number of reasons why I thin
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant work by a genius. This book is very influential and Spinoza's insights are today and will remain topical so long as men have any sort of religion.

Spinosa starts with an analysis of whether it is proper for Judeo Christian theocrats to use divine authority as a basis for their power over society and, once that topic is basically exhausted by rigorous logic, then shifts to an argument that moral choices are personal and allowing individual choice is the best legitimate form of government
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosophy students
A formal study of the Bible, with one foot in (forced) respect and sanctity and the other foot in analytical heresy. In short, Spinoza draws a line between Biblical inerrancy (completely true) and Biblical infallibility (correct on spiritual matters, but incorrect science and history), and does from a great knowledge of Hebrew and the text. He debunks the ideas of Miracles because he believes that Nature is an extension of God, and that God cannot go against his own rules. He goes on to then exp ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terry by: Spinoza's ghost
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
I had an interesting two and a half months with this renegade, excommunicated, 17th-century Jew, who had haunted my reading for a couple of months before I agreed to ponder his ideas. Samuel Shirley's translation is very readable and Spinoza's methodology and prose are crystal clear compared to what he used in his Ethics. His Biblical interpretation foreshadowed the 19th-century German historical-critical movement that transformed Biblical Studies. He provided an interesting perspective on the N ...more
matthew mcdonald
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Started reading the Ethics, but that was hard, so gave up for a while and tried this as a warm-up.

Philosophy is fun to read when you get to feel an emotional/intellectual resonance with the author. Basically the same experience as reading a novel that works for you. When you agree with what the author is saying, and you're aware that he was going to get into serious trouble for publishing it, it's easy to feel that human connection with the author.

Apparently written after the Ethics, but publish
Craig Evans
I'm on page 279 of 432 of A Theologico-Political Treatise/A Political Treatise:
I've now completed the first portion of this two-part publication after having left off at page 120 eight years ago I've taken 6 weeks to get to the end of the first portion. It's been interesting. There were numerous passages in A Theologico-Political Treatise where I thought to myself that those views and events and processes being described by Spinoza could really be applicable to the current political and social
W. Littlejohn
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is modernity in nuce. It's all there—historical and textual criticism of Scripture, the development of a universal religion based on reason, the reduction of religion to the ethical, the creation of a full-blown concept of political religion, in which the state becomes the highest good, and the development of a distinctively modern rationale for tolerance. And, thanks to Jonathan Israel's masterful translation, Spinoza really feels like one of us; he speaks our language and our idiom. ...more
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm loving it. I had never thought much of Spinoza, I mean, his definition of love and hate, as well as all other "active" emotions were pretty awesome, but I had always thought of him as "that other rationalist guy", the "guy who's like Descartes only he's not", etc...
Turns out his work is just as ground-breaking, if not more, than Descartes' method.
The only thing that bothers me is his lack of an "epistemological experiment" thingy, like Descartes did. I mean, how the hell could he answer the
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Baruch Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher. The breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until many years after his death. By laying the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and, arguably, the universe, he came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy.
His magnum opu

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