Marco De Paoli

The Dutch Republic, forged in the struggle for independence against the Spanish, French and English monarchies, was in the Seventeenth century a rather peculiar entity: it was only in this unique environment that Spinoza’s philosophical genius could have developed in the way it did. In his Tractatus theologico-politicus Spinoza outlines the ideal of a republican government – or in any case an anti-absolutist one – while defending libertas philosophandi: though censored, his political theory was the expression of the political reality in which he lived, despite being threatened by the Orangists’ dynastic pretensions and the Calvinists’ intolerance. The Jewish community, where a new generation was distancing itself from tradition, was also the humus from which Spinoza’s rationalist interpretation of Holy Scripture arose. Likewise, in his Ethics Spinoza’s ontology overturned all and any metaphysics into an immanentistic vision. His ontology, however, has often been misunderstood: Spinoza’s res extensa, as a divine attribute, has nothing bodily about it (the body manifesting himself at the level of “Modi”), it is a geometric space capable of holding bodies, according to a line of thought leading to Newton’s space as “sensorium Dei”. Contra Deleuze, Spinoza’s ontology is not a philosophy of becoming: the Substance, unmoving in its aeternae leges naturae starting from the Cartesian lex inertiae and leges motus, forming the res cogitans as the ratio of the world in a reification of mechanicism into ontologic structure, is causa sui self-generating only at the level of Modi forming the strengthening of the Substance. Spinoza’s philosophy does not constitute anti-modernity (A. Negri) but rather the essence of modernity, precisely in so far as it is subversive in respect of all and any philosophical and political tradition.

Spinoza sovversivo nel suo tempo e nel suo luogo
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