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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Spinoza and human freedom Lindley, Richard Charles

Abstract

This thesis provides a critical account of Spinoza's philosophy of human freedom as presented in his ETHICS. Rather than being a scholarly work on Spinoza, this essay uses Spinoza as a vehicle for shedding light on problems regarding the nature of human freedom, and its attainability and desirability. After the introduction, the thesis begins with an introductory sketch of Spinoza's metaphysics. This sketch is designed to acquaint the reader with Spinoza's terminology, and to lay out the framework into which his philosophy of freedom was squeezed. Chapter Two and Three present Spinoza's theories of human bondage and human freedom, which, it is maintained, are in many respects, just one theory. These chapters take the form, almost of a commentary on Parts Four and Five of ETHICS. The criticisms of Spinoza which are introduced here are, on the whole, specific criticisms of arguments used by him, rather than broad criticisms of his whole enterprise. The last chapter discusses a recent attack on the desirability and rationality of pursuing a Spinozist path to freedom. The attack is a general attack on Spinozism about freedom as such. It is argued that the attack does contain valid criticisms of Spinozism as expounded by Spinoza in ETHICS. However, a truncated form of Spinoza's prescription for freedom is defended, albeit rather tentatively, from this attack.

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