Most readers of Spinoza treat him as a pure metaphysician, a grim determinist, or a stoic moralist, but none of these descriptions captures the author of the Ethics, argues Steven B. Smith in this intriguing book. Offering a new reading of Spinoza’s masterpiece, Smith asserts that the Ethics is a celebration of human freedom and its attendant joys and responsibilities and should be placed among the great founding documents of the Enlightenment.
Two aspects of Smith’s book distinguish it from other studies. It treats the famous “geometrical method” of the Ethics as a form of moral rhetoric, a model for the construction of individuality. And it presents the Ethics as a companion to Spinoza’s major work of political philosophy, the Theologico-Political Treatise, each work helping to explore the problem of freedom. Affirming Spinoza’s centrality for both critics and defenders of modernity, the book will be of value to students of political theory, philosophy, and intellectual history.