Ethics is a philosophical book written by Benedictus de Spinoza. Although published after Spinoza's death, in 1677, it is considered his greatest and most famous work. In it, Spinoza tries to set out a "fully cohesive philosophical system that strives to provide a coherent picture of reality and to comprehend the meaning of an ethical life. Following a logical step-by-step format, it defines in turn the nature of God, the mind, human bondage to the emotions, and the power of understanding
Benedict de Spinoza's writings laid the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and for modern Biblical criticism. By virtue of his magnum opus, The Ethics, Spinoza is considered one of Western philosophy's definitive ethicists.
After experience had taught me that all the usual surroundings of social life are vain and futile; seeing that none of the objects of my fears contained in themselves anything either good or bad, except in so far as the mind is affected by them, I finally resolved to inquire whether there might be some real good having power to communicate itself, which would affect the mind singly, to the exclusion of all else: whether, in fact, there might be anything of which the discovery and attainment would enable me to enjoy continuous, supreme, and unending happiness.
Most writers on the emotions and on human conduct... attribute human infirmities and fickleness, not to the power of nature in general, but to some mysterious flaw in the nature of man... -from Ethics Considered a rationalist in the ranks of Descartes and Leibniz, Benedict De Spinoza was so unorthodox in his philosophies that his writings, published in 1678 just after his death, were immediately banned in his homeland of Holland. The spreading influencing of his thinking could not be stopped, however, and Spinoza overarching contention-that human happiness could be achieved only through a reasoned understanding of the universe-remains provocative and significant today. This collection, translated from Latin by R.H.M. Elwes and published in 1901, brings together Spinoza's best known work, Ethics, in which he postulates that God and Nature constitute one deterministic system, a single divine machine, in which humans are a vital part; his treatise "On the Improvement of the Understanding," in which he discusses the very nature of the mind itself; and a selection of his correspondence that elucidates his reasoning. AUTHOR BIO: BENEDICT DE SPINOZA (1632-1677) was born in Amsterdam to a prosperous merchant family. He also wrote A Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, which he never completed, and A Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being.
One of the most original and penetrating philosophers of all time, Spinoza is also one of the clearest and easiest to understand. His works constitute an important adjunct to understanding Goethe, Hegel, Schelling, Coleridge, Whitehead, Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein, and other writers who were influenced by his thinking. Spinoza's works retain an endless wealth of lucidly expressed and deeply profound analyses of such concepts as God, the universe, pantheism, the role of society, revealed religion, the state, democracy, the mind, the emotions, freedom, and human nature. In A Theologico-Political Treatise, Spinoza presents an eloquent plea for religious liberty, demonstrating that true religion consists of the practice of simple piety, independent of philosophical speculation. Anticipating the methods of modern rationalists, he examines the Bible at length to show that freedom of thought and speech are consistent with the religious life. In the unfinished Political Treatise, Spinoza develops a theory of government founded on common consent. This volume is part of Dover's Philosophical Classics series, a collection of the major works in Western and Eastern philosophy that ranges from ancient Greece to modern times. Its low-priced, high-quality, unabridged editions are ideal for teachers and students as well as for other readers.
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