ADVANTAGES

Baruch Spinoza also greatly contributes to the development ofEnlightenment political philosophy in its early years. Themetaphysical doctrines of the Ethics (1677) lay thegroundwork for his influence on the age. Spinoza’s argumentsagainst Cartesian dualism and in favor of substance monism, the claimin particular that there can only be one substance, God or nature, wastaken to have radical implications in the domains of politics, ethicsand religion throughout the period. Spinoza’s employment ofphilosophical reason leads to the denial of the existence of atranscendent, creator, providential, law-giving God; this establishesthe opposition between the teachings of philosophy, on the one hand,and the traditional orienting practical beliefs (moral, religious,political) of the people, on the other hand, an opposition that is oneimportant aspect of the culture of the Enlightenment. In his mainpolitical work, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1677),Spinoza, building on his rationalist naturalism, opposes superstition,argues for toleration and the subordination of religion to the state,and pronounces in favor of qualified democracy. Liberalism is perhapsthe most characteristic political philosophy of the Enlightenment, andSpinoza, in this text primarily, is one of its originators.

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