Ursula Renz

Spinozism – i.e. the overall worldview Spinoza is assumed to have advocated in his philosophy – is often said to fail, when it comes at providing guidance in people’s search for a meaningful life, for two reasons. Whereas some accuse Spinozism of relying on conceptual or theoretical inconsistencies, others deny that it can ever be believed by any subject. In this paper, both kinds of objections are refuted. It argues that even if Spinozism falls prey to inconsistencies, this does not necessarily ruin its existential value, as we are generally quite good at quite combining maxims from different or even competing systems in an eclectic manner. The problem of non-believability, by contrast, is a real challenge, but it only arises on the adoption of a strictly Eleatic reading, whereas on other readings of Spinoza’s metaphysics that have room for the reality of subjective experience the problem of non-believable does not arise. The paper concludes by showing how, on this reading, Spinozism responds to our existential quests. Spinoza is assumed to hold the twofold view that being is inherently positive and that we are acquainted with this positivity of being just by being the kinds of things we are: reflective embodied subjects. We know what being is, we know how valuable it is, and we know that we do so. What Spinozism has to offer is simply the concepts by which we come to see and trust this knowledge of ours.

Spinozism as a Radical Anti-Nihilism
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