•  4246
    This chapter will discuss Spinoza’s critique of free will, though our brief study of this topic in the first part of the chapter will aim primarily at preparing us to address the main topic of the chapter, which is Spinoza’s explanation of the reasons which force us to believe in free will. At times, Spinoza seems to come very close to asserting the paradoxical claim that we are not free to avoid belief in free will. In the second part of the chapter I will closely examine Spinoza’s etiological …Read more
  •  3747
    Spinoza ’s letter of June 2, 1674 to his friend Jarig Jelles addresses several distinct and important issues in Spinoza ’s philosophy. It explains briefly the core of Spinoza ’s disagreement with Hobbes’ political theory, develops his innovative understanding of numbers, and elaborates on Spinoza ’s refusal to describe God as one or single. Then, toward the end of the letter, Spinoza writes: With regard to the statement that figure is a negation and not anything positive, it is obvious that matt…Read more
  •  1147
    Spinoza's Deification of Existence
    Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 6 75-104. 2013.
    The aim of this paper is to clarify Spinoza’s views on some of the most fundamental issues of his metaphysics: the nature of God’s attributes, the nature of existence and eternity, and the relation between essence and existence in God. While there is an extensive literature on each of these topics, it seems that the following question was hardly raised so far: What is, for Spinoza, the relation between God’s existence and the divine attributes? Given Spinoza’s claims that there are intimate conn…Read more
  •  1011
    Spinoza’s Metaphysics of Thought: Parallelisms and the Multifaceted Structure of Ideas
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (3): 636-683. 2013.
    In this paper, I suggest an outline of a new interpretation of core issues in Spinoza’s metaphysics and philosophy of mind. I argue for three major theses. (1) In the first part of the paper I show that the celebrated Spinozistic doctrine commonly termed “the doctrine of parallelism” is in fact a confusion of two separate and independent doctrines of parallelism. Hence, I argue that our current understanding of Spinoza’s metaphysics and philosophy of mind is fundamentally flawed. (2) The clari…Read more
  •  897
    Spinoza's Anti-Humanism
    In Smith Justin & Fraenkel Carlos (eds.), The Rationalists, Springer/synthese. 2010.
    A common perception of Spinoza casts him as one of the precursors, perhaps even founders, of modern humanism and Enlightenment thought. Given that in the twentieth century, humanism was commonly associated with the ideology of secularism and the politics of liberal democracies, and that Spinoza has been taken as voicing a “message of secularity” and as having provided “the psychology and ethics of a democratic soul” and “the decisive impulse to… modern republicanism which takes it bearings by…Read more
  •  866
    The Enigma of Spinoza's Amor Dei Intellectualis
    In Noa Naaman-Zaudrer & Noa Naaman (eds.), Freedom, Action and Motivation in Spinoza’s Ethics, Routledge. pp. 222-238. 2019.
    The notion of divine love was essential to medieval Christian conceptions of God. Jewish thinkers, though, had a much more ambivalent attitude about this issue. While Maimonides was reluctant to ascribe love, or any other affect, to God, Gersonides and Crescas celebrated God’s love. Though Spinoza is clearly sympathetic to Maimonides’ rejection of divine love as anthropomorphism, he attributes love to God nevertheless, unfolding his notion of amor Dei intellectualis at the conclusion of his E…Read more
  •  665
    The Sirens of Elea: Rationalism, Monism and Idealism in Spinoza
    In Antonia Lolordo & Duncan Stewart (eds.), Debates in Early Modern Philosophy, Blackwell. 2012.
    The main thesis of Michael Della Rocca’s outstanding Spinoza book (Della Rocca 2008a) is that at the very center of Spinoza’s philosophy stands the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): the stipulation that everything must be explainable or, in other words, the rejection of any brute facts. Della Rocca rightly ascribes to Spinoza a strong version of the PSR. It is not only that the actual existence and features of all things must be explicable, but even the inexistence – as well as the absence…Read more
  •  565
    Eternity in Early Modern Philosophy
    In Yitzhak Y. Melamed (ed.), Eternity: A History, Oxford University Press. pp. 129-167. 2016.
    Modernity seemed to be the autumn of eternity. The secularization of European culture provided little sustenance to the concept of eternity with its heavy theological baggage. Yet, our hero would not leave the stage without an outstanding performance of its power and temptation. Indeed, in the first three centuries of the modern period – the subject of the third chapter by Yitzhak Melamed - the concept of eternity will play a crucial role in the great philosophical systems of the period. The fir…Read more
  •  559
    In a beautiful recent essay, the philosopher Walter Sinnott-Armstrong explains the reasons for his departure from evangelical Christianity, the religious culture in which he was brought up. Sinnot-Armstrong contrasts the interpretive methods used by good philosophers and fundamentalist believers: Good philosophers face objections and uncertainties. They follow where arguments lead, even when their conclusions are surprising and disturbing. Intellectual honesty is also required of scholars who in…Read more
  •  519
    Moses Maimonides was a rare kind of radical. Being a genuine Aristotelian, he recommended following the middle path and avoiding extremism. Yet, within the sphere of Jewish philosophy and thought, he created a school of philosophical radicalism, inspiring Rabbis and thinkers to be unwilling to compromise their integrity in searching for the truth, regardless of where their arguments might lead. Both Spinoza and Salomon Maimon inherited this commitment to uncompromising philosophical inquiry. But…Read more
  •  515
    Cohen, Spinoza, and the Nature of Pantheism
    Jewish Studies Quarterly 171-180. 2018.
    The German text of Cohen’s Spinoza on State & Religion, Judaism & Christianity (Spinoza über Staat und Religion, Judentum und Christentum) first appeared in 1915 in the Jahrbuch für jüdische Geschichte und Literatur. Two years before, in the winter of 1913, Cohen taught a class and a seminar on Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. This was Cohen’s first semester at the Hochschule, after retiring from more than thirty years of teaching at …Read more
  •  483
    “Why did God create the World?” is one of the traditional questions of theology. In the twentieth century this question was rephrased in a secularized manner as “Why is there something rather than nothing?” While creation - at least in its traditional, temporal, sense - has little place in Spinoza’s system, a variant of the same questions puts Spinoza’s system under significant pressure. According to Spinoza, God, or the substance, has infinitely many modes. This infinity of modes follow from…Read more
  •  463
    The seventeenth century was an important period in the conceptual development of the notion of the infinite. In 1643, Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647)—Galileo’s successor in the chair of mathematics in Florence—communicated his proof of a solid of infinite length but finite volume. Many of the leading metaphysicians of the time, notably Spinoza and Leibniz, came out in defense of actual infinity, rejecting the Aristotelian ban on it, which had been almost universally accepted for two millenni…Read more
  •  444
    The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon
    with Solomon Maimon and Abraham Socher
    Princeton University Press. 2018.
  •  425
    Eternity a History (edited book)
    Oxford University Press USA. 2016.
    Eternity is a unique kind of existence that is supposed to belong to the most real being or beings. It is an existence that is not shaken by the common wear and tear of time. Over the two and half millennia history of Western philosophy we find various conceptions of eternity, yet one sharp distinction between two notions of eternity seems to run throughout this long history: eternity as timeless existence, as opposed to eternity as existence in all times. Both kinds of existence stand in sharp …Read more
  •  424
    I am not going to solve in this paper the plethora of problems and riddles surrounding Spinoza’s scientia intuitiva, but I do hope to break some new ground and help make this key doctrine more readily understandable. I will proceed in the following order (keep in mind the word ‘proceed’). I will first provide a close preliminary analysis of the content and development of Spinoza’s discussion of scientia intuitiva in the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and the Ethics. In the second pa…Read more
  •  408
    Chapters 17 and 18 of the TTP constitute a textual unit in which Spinoza submits the case of the ancient Hebrew state to close examination. This is not the work of a historian, at least not in any sense that we, twenty-first century readers, would recognize as such. Many of Spinoza’s claims in these chapters are highly speculative, and seem to be poorly backed by historical evidence. Other claims are broad-brush, ahistorical generalizations: for example, in a marginal note, Spinoza refers to his…Read more
  •  399
    Hegel, Spinoza, and McTaggart on the Reality of Time
    Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus / International Yearbook of German Idealism 14 211-234. 2016.
    In this paper, I study one aspect of the philosophical encounter between Spinoza and Hegel: the question of the reality of time. The precise reconstruction of the debate will require a close examination of Spinoza's concept of tempus (time) and duratio (duration), and Hegel's understanding of these notions. Following a presentation of Hegel's perception of Spinoza as a modern Eleatic, who denies the reality of time, change and plurality, I turn, in the second part, to look closely at Spinoza's …Read more
  •  375
    At the opening of Spinoza’s Ethics, we find the three celebrated definitions of substance, attribute, and God: E1d3: By substance I understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed [Per substantiam intelligo id quod in se est et per se concipitur; hoc est id cujus conceptus non indiget conceptu alterius rei, a quo formari debeat]. E1d4: By attribute I understand what the intellect pe…Read more
  •  374
    Inherence, Causation, and Conceivability in Spinoza
    Journal of the History of Philosophy. 2012.
    In this paper I suggest a new interpretation of the relations of inherence, causation and conception in Spinoza. I discuss the views of Don Garrett on this issue and argue against Della Rocca's recent suggestion that a strict endorsement of the PSR leads necessarily to the identification of the relations of inherence, causation and conception. I argue that Spinoza never endorsed this identity, and that Della Rocca's suggestion could not be considered as a legitimate reconstruction or friendly am…Read more
  •  337
  •  331
    „ “What is Time?”
    In Aaron Garrett (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Eighteenth Century Philosophy, Routledge. pp. 232-244. 2014.
    Time is one of the most enigmatic notions philosophers have ever dealt with. Once subjected to close examination, almost any feature usually ascribed to time, leads to a plethora of fundamental and hard to resolve questions. Just as philosophers of the eighteenth-century attempted to take account of revolutionary developments in the physical sciences in understanding space, life, and a host of other fundamental aspects of nature (see Jones, Gaukroger, and Smith in this volume) they also engaged …Read more
  •  318
    In the first part of this paper we will consider the likely extent of Spinoza’s exposure to Kabbalistic literature as he was growing up in Amsterdam. In the second part we will closely study several texts in which Spinoza seems to engage with Kabbalistic doctrines. In the third and final part we will study the role of the two crucial doctrines of emanation and pantheism (or panentheism), in Spinoza’s system and in the Kabbalistic literature.