Ethics | Study Guide

Baruch Spinoza

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Ethics Study Guide." Course Hero. 17 Jan. 2020. Web. 20 Sep. 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethics/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2020, January 17). Ethics Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethics/

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Ethics Study Guide." January 17, 2020. Accessed September 20, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethics/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Ethics Study Guide," January 17, 2020, accessed September 20, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethics/.

Overview

Author

Baruch Spinoza

Year Published

1677

Type

Nonfiction

Genre

Philosophy

At a Glance

Published posthumously in 1677, the Ethics is Dutch-Jewish philosopher Baruch (Benedict de) Spinoza's (1632–77) attempt to apply the formal reasoning of mathematics to a sweeping range of philosophical issues. Structured as a series of axioms, proofs, theorems, and polemical essays (those related to an aggressive attack on the ideas of another), the book argues in favor of several propositions regarding God, nature, and humanity that were highly controversial in Spinoza's time. Perhaps most notoriously, Spinoza denies the existence of a personal God. Instead he affirms that God and nature are fundamentally the same thing. Later in the work, he challenges the notion of free will and suggests that freedom is found in submission to reason rather than to emotion.

Although latter-day philosophers, as well as mathematicians, have questioned the rigor of Spinoza's so-called proofs, the Ethics remains a major milestone in the philosophical heritage of the West. Its ambitious structure has inspired many subsequent attempts to address the broad concerns of philosophy by using the precise language of mathematics. Further, in its attempt to chart out the varieties and causes of human emotion, the Ethics anticipates important aspects of modern psychology and sociology. No less important is the book's vision of a life well-lived: a life guided by reason, free from the chaos of blind urges and conflicting desires.

About the Title

The title of Dutch-Jewish philosopher Baruch (Benedict de) Spinoza's (1632–77) Ethics might suggest a misleadingly narrow impression of the text's contents. The book does in fact present several propositions concerning good, evil, and morality—topics that would be expected in a treatise on ethics. However, Spinoza also makes some extraordinary and—in his day, highly controversial—claims about the nature of God, the relationship of mind and body, and the origin of human emotions. Thus, in addition to ethics, Spinoza's work also covers metaphysics (nature of reality), philosophy of mind, and psychology.

Summary

This study guide for Baruch Spinoza's Ethics offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from Amazon.com
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Ethics? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!

Stuck? We have tutors online 24/7 who can help you get unstuck.
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes