The Young Spinoza: A Metaphysician in the Making

Paperback | April 13, 2015

EditorYitzhak Y. Melamed

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Ex nihilo nihil fit. Philosophy, especially great philosophy, does not appear out of the blue. In the current volume, a team of top scholars - both up-and-coming and established - attempts to trace the philosophical development of one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Featuring twentynew essays and an introduction, it is the first attempt of its kind in English and its appearance coincides with the recent surge of interest in Spinoza in Anglo-American philosophy.Spinoza's fame-or notoriety-is due primarily to his posthumously published magnum opus, the Ethics, and, to a lesser extent, to the 1670 Theological-Political Treatise. Few readers take the time to study his early works carefully. If they do, they are likely to encounter some surprising claims,which often diverge from, or even utterly contradict, the doctrines of the Ethics. Consider just a few of these assertions: that God acts from absolute freedom of will, that God is a whole, that there are no modes in God, that extension is divisible and hence cannot be an attribute of God, and thatthe intellectual and corporeal substances are modes in relation to God. Yet, though these claims reveal some tension between the early works and the Ethics, there is also a clear continuity between them.Spinoza wrote the Ethics over a long period of time, which spanned most of his philosophical career. The dates of the early drafts of the Ethics seem to overlap with the assumed dates of the composition of the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and the Short Treatise on God, Man, and HisWell Being and precede the publication of Spinoza's 1663 book on Descartes' Principles of Philosophy. For this reason, a study of Spinoza's early works (and correspondence) can illuminate the nature of the problems Spinoza addresses in the Ethics, insofar as the views expressed in the early workshelp us reconstruct the development and genealogy of the Ethics. Indeed, if we keep in mind the common dictum "nothing comes from nothing" - which Spinoza frequently cites and appeals to - it is clear that great works like the Ethics do not appear ex nihilo. In light of the preeminence and majestyof the Ethics, it is difficult to study the early works without having the Ethics in sight. Still, we would venture to say that the value of Spinoza's early works is not at all limited to their being stations on the road leading to the Ethics. A teleological attitude of such a sort would celebratethe works of the "mature Spinoza" at the expense of the early works. However, we have no reason to assume that on all issues the views of the Ethics are better argued, developed, and motivated than those of the early works. In other words, we should keep our minds open to the possibility that onsome issues the early works might contain better analysis and argumentation than the Ethics.

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Ex nihilo nihil fit. Philosophy, especially great philosophy, does not appear out of the blue. In the current volume, a team of top scholars - both up-and-coming and established - attempts to trace the philosophical development of one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Featuring twentynew essays and an introduction, it is the fi...

Yitzhak Y. Melamed is a Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Spinoza's Metaphysics (OUP, 2013), and co-editor of Spinoza's Theological Political Treatise: A Critical Guide (2011), and of Spinoza and German Idealism ( 2012).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 1.18 inPublished:April 13, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199971668

ISBN - 13:9780199971664

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Table of Contents

ContributorsAbbreviationsIntroduction1. Edwin Curley: Spinoza's Lost Defense2. Filippo Mignini: Fictio / Verziering (e) in Spinoza's Early Writings3. Alan Nelson: The Problem of True Ideas in Spinoza's Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect4. John Morrison: Truth in Spinoza's Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect5. Michael LeBuffe: Spinoza's Rules of Living6. Mogens Laerke: Leibniz on Spinoza's Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione7. Daniel Garber: Spinoza's Cartesian Dualism in the Korte Verhandeling8. Colin Marshall: Reason in the Short Treatise9. Russ Leo: Spinoza's Calvin: Reformed Theology in the Korte Verhandeling10. John Carriero: Spinoza, the Will, and the Ontology of Power11. Valtteri Viljanen: Spinoza's Essentialism in the Short Treatise12. Frederic Manzini: When was Spinoza not Young any More?13. Tad M.Schmaltz: Spinoza on Eternity and Duration: the 1663 Connection14. Karlolina Hbner: Spinoza on Negation, Mind-Dependence and the Reality of the Finite15. Oded Schechter: Temporalities and Kinds of Cognition in the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, the Short Treatise, and the Ethics16. Samuel Newlands: Spinoza's Early Anti-Abstractionism17. Yitzhak Y. Melamed: A Glimpse into Spinoza's Metaphysical Laboratory: The Development of the Concepts of Substance and Attribute18. Ursula Renz: From the Passive to the Active Intellect19. John Brandau: Degrees of Essence and Perfection in Spinoza20. Pina Totaro: The Young Spinoza and the Vatican Manuscript of Spinoza's EthicsBibliographyIndex