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23/2020
Matériaux du spinozisme

Materials of Spinozism
Edited by Pierre-François Moreau

Spinoza rarely quotes his predecessors, but scholars have focused on showing how Spinozist thought and writing fits into different traditions. This dossier therefore analyses how Spinoza reshapes and rewrites what he finds before him. In other words, this involves ascertaining how, for him, these “legacies” are in fact materials to be reworked: how does the Spinozist system deal with questions of suicide, historical experience, divine omnipotence and human finitude? So the problem of suicide forces us to think of the destruction of the self within the framework of a philosophy which bases its analysis of the individual on a conatus which seems to exclude any possibility of internal contradiction. Similarly, Spinoza’s political reflection, like that of Hobbes, is based on examples borrowed from Latin historians, which involves the creation of historical models. Divine omnipotence is conceived through the reorientation of the category of causality, which makes it possible to give another meaning to the infinite and to the relationship between the divine essence and the laws of nature. Reflection on finitude bases the idea of existence on material stemming from the most common human experience – which helps to explain why Spinoza gave such attention to religious narratives: that attention relates not only to the necessities of Scriptural debate but also to the fact that these narratives fuel his reflections on the different forms of life.

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