From Bondage to Freedom

From Bondage to Freedom : Spinoza on Human Excellence

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Description

Spinoza rejects fundamental tenets of received morality, including the notions of Providence and free will. Yet he retrains rich theories of good and evil, virtue, perfection, and freedom. Building interconnected readings of Spinoza's accounts of imagination, error, and desire, Michael LeBuffe defends a comprehensive interpretation of Spinoza's enlightened vision of human excellence. Spinoza holds that what is fundamental to human morality is the fact that we find things to be good or evil, not what we take those designations to mean. When we come to understand the conditions under which we act-that is, when we come to understand the sorts of beings that we are and the ways in which we interact with things in the world-then we can recast traditional moral notions in ways that help us to attain more of what we find to be valuable. For Spinoza, we find value in greater activity. Two hazards impede the search for value. First, we need to know and acquire the means to be good. In this respect, Spinoza's theory is a great deal like Hobbes's: we strive to be active, and in order to do so we need food, security, health, and other necessary components of a decent life. There is another hazard, however, that is more subtle. On Spinoza's theory of the passions, we can misjudge our own natures and fail to understand the sorts of beings that we really are. So we can misjudge what is good and might even seek ends that are evil. Spinoza's account of human nature is thus much deeper and darker than Hobbes's: we are not well known to ourselves, and the self-knowledge that is the foundation of virtue and freedom is elusive and fragile.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 162.56 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195383532
  • 9780195383539
  • 1,646,032

Review quote

I found LeBuffe's book extremely helpful, philosophically stimulating, and engaging. This is a highly important work on some of the most central elements of Spinoza's philosophy, and it will entice scholarly debates for many years to come. * Yitzhak Melamed, The Leibniz Review * Michael LeBuffe's From Bondage to Freedom: Spinoza on Human Excellence is an excellent presentation of Spinoza's moral theory. LeBuffe presents and analyzes not only the moral theory itself but also its place in Spinoza's system. This book is a significant contribution that ought to be read by anyone interested in the ethics or moral psychology of early modern philosophy, in addition to Spinoza scholars. In the end, LeBuffe's engaging account unifies Spinoza's project in a way few others do and it does so around what is undoubtedly Spinoza's own central concern - the means by which human beings may move from bondage to freedom. * Eugene Marshall, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * Michael LeBuffe's book From Bondage to Freedom: Spinoza on Human Excellence is a major contribution to Spinoza scholarship and the history of ethics. Over the past decade there has been a significant increase of articles and chapters devoted to aspects of the moral theory of the Ethics. LeBuffe's is the first systematic and in-depth treatment of the subject in English in seventy years. Unlike its predecessor, From Bondage to Freedom will continue to be closely studied in another seventy. The quality of the research is first-rate. The writing style is clear and direct. The lines of interpretation are insightful and well argued for. At last there is a careful and comprehensive work that advances scholarship on one of the great moral systems in the history of ethics. * Andrew Youpa, Ethics * All Spinoza specialists will want to read this book, and it will also be of value to anyone who wants to understand Spinoza's ethical views. * Don Garrett, New York University *show more

About Michael LeBuffe

Michael Lebuffe is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University.show more

Table of contents

ABBREVIATIONS; INTRODUCTION; NOTES; BIBLIOGRAPHY; INDEX OF PASSAGES CITED; GENERAL INDEXshow more

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