Benedict de Spinoza is a great Dutch philosopher who was raised in the Jewish community in Holland. He was enormously influenced by Jewish medieval philosophy and the philosophies of Hobbes and Descartes. His philosophical system involves revolutionary twists on all of these. Against Descartes (and a whole great tradition) Spinoza denied that the creator and the creation are distinct substances. Against Descartes, Spinoza argued that the definition of substance makes it impossible for the mind and the body to be distinct substances. The definition of substance requires that there can be only a single substance. So, mind and body are modes of that single substance.
Spinoza shares with Hobbes a powerful negative analysis of popular religion and the view that an individual operates in their own self interest. Spinoza, however, gives this last doctrine a remarkable twist. He argues that the chief good of human life is knowledge of God and that this is open to everyone. To best achieve this goal we need to cooperate in various ways. So Hobbes' egoism is transformed into a doctrine of cooperation.
The object of this book is to provide an account of the main parts of Spinoza’s philosophy.
The purpose of this series (The Arguments of he Philosophers) is to provide a contemporary assessment and history of the entire course of philosophical thought. Each book constitutes a detailed, critical introduction to the work of a philosopher of major influence and significance.