Spinoza on Learning to Live Together




2023.02.3 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Spinoza on Learning to Live Together, Oxford University Press, 2020, 228pp., $77.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198713074.


Reviewed by Justin Steinberg, Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center

In numerous works spanning several decades, Susan James has made the case for Spinoza’s significance and resourcefulness as a social thinker. Spinoza on Learning to Live Together brings together thirteen of her most recent essays—some new, some previously published—that engage with various aspects of Spinoza’s thought, including his epistemology, psychology, theology, ethics, and political theory.

While these essays explore a range of issues in Spinoza’s philosophy, certain themes recur throughout. One theme is that, despite Spinoza’s apparently disparaging view of the imagination, in fact the imagination is vital to epistemic and moral advancement. Another theme is that individual flourishing depends to a considerable degree on social relations and political institutions. These two themes are in fact intertwined in these essays, as…

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