Spinoza and the Freedom of Philosophizing

ISBN : 9780192895417

Mogens Laerke
384 ページ
156 x 234 mm

Spinoza and the Freedom of Philosophizing considers freedom of speech and the rules of engagement in the public sphere; good government, civic responsibility, and public education; and the foundations of religion and society, as seen through the eyes of seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher, Spinoza. During the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic, a new kind of public sphere emerged. Courtly structures of political advice made room for new, republican forms of public consultation between the sovereign powers and the general citizenry. Missing, however, were guidelines for how and when to address questions of public import and how to form unprejudiced citizens in possession of their own free judgment, capable and willing to speak up for themselves in public deliberations with the common interest in view. Mogens Laerke argues that Spinoza's freedom of philosophizing, and the systematic political theory he developed to defend it in his 1670 Theological-Political Treatise, were conceived to provide just such guidelines. Laerke shows how Spinoza understood freedom of philosophizing as a collective style of reasoning and argument based on mutual teaching and advising, a model for the public sphere in a free republic. The volume studies the conditions under which such a public sphere of free philosophizing would flourish, how it would require popular reform of public education, and democratic reorganization of the relations between political counsel and sovereign command. It also shows how Spinoza designed theological and political doctrines of universal faith and social contract in order to promote true religion and a sense of civic duty, and defended the state's right over sacred matters as a means to ensure mutual toleration in a multi-religious society.


A Note on Texts, Translations, and Abbreviations
1 Introduction
2 Circles and Spheres of Free Philosophizing
3 Philosophizing
4 The Apostolic Styles
5 Authority
6 Prejudice, Deception, Flattery
7 Counsel, Collegiality, and Democracy
8 Education
9 Foundations I: Universal Faith
10 Foundations II: The Contract
11 The Right Concerning Sacred Matters
12 Conclusion: The Dutch Public Sphere


Mogens Laerke is Senior Researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), member of the research institute IHRIM at the Ecole Normale Superiere de Lyon, and a fellow at the Maison Francaise d'Oxford (MFO). He is the secretary of the British Society for the History of Philosophy (BSHP) and the managing editor of the BSHP New Texts in the History of Philosophy series from Oxford University Press. A specialist in early modern philosophy, notably Leibniz and Spinoza, he has published widely on early modern metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion and political philosophy, and philosophical-historiographical methodology.