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    Why should we read Spinoza?

    James, Susan (2016) Why should we read Spinoza? Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 78 , pp. 109-125. ISSN 1358-2461.

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    Historians of philosophy are well aware of the limitations of what Butterfield called ‘Whig history’: narratives of historical progress that culminate in an enlightened present. Yet many recent studies retain something of this teleological outlook. Why should this be? To explain it, I propose, we need to take account of the emotional investments that guide our interest in the philosophical past, and the role they play in shaping what we understand as the history of philosophy. As far as I know, this problem is not currently much addressed, but it is illuminatingly explored in the work of Spinoza (1632-77). He aspires to explain the psychological basis of our attachment to histories with a teleological flavour. At the same time, he insists that such histories are epistemologically flawed. To study the history of philosophy in a properly philosophical fashion we must overcome our own Whiggish leanings.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Susan James
    Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2017 10:44
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:31


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