Philosophy, Theology, and Politics

A Reading of Benedict Spinoza’s Tractatus theologico-politicus


The interpretation of Spinoza’s theologico-political teaching remains a matter of controversy. Is Spinoza simply addressing contemporary difficulties in The Netherlands of the late 1660s? Or is he attempting to solve a more basic and enduring human problem? In this book, it is argued that against the background of contemporary concerns, Spinoza treats the more fundamental “natural problem” of reconciling those who live by “the dictates of reason” with those who live by “the urgings of the passions.” Based upon his accounts of theology, human nature, and politics, Spinoza fashions a theocratic or “theologico-political solution” to the “natural problem” by holding that the “universal religion” and the democratic liberalism of the treatise share a common purpose. Thus, Spinoza becomes a “new Moses.”


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Biographical Note

Paul J. Bagley, Ph.D. (1990) in Philosophy, Trinity College, Dublin, is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Loyola College in Maryland. He has published on Spinoza, Descartes, and Esotericism. He currently is writing a monograph on Machiavelli, Bacon, and Descartes.

Table of contents

Part One Philosophy
Part Two Theology
Part Three Politics
Part Four Philosophy, Theology, and Politics
Epilogue Spinoza: The New Moses
Selected Bibliography
Index of Names


All those interested in the study of the philosophic teaching of Benedict Spinoza, the history of early modern philosophy, political philosophy, philosophic communication, the philosophy of religion, Biblical criticism, and those concerned with the realtionship between theolgy and politics.


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