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Brady L. Bowman - Associate Professor of Philosophy, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Collected Works of Spinoza, Volume I

Author: Benedictus de Spinoza (Author), Edwin M. Curley (Translator)

Book Description:

I encountered Spinoza’s Ethics relatively late in my education, just after finishing my dissertation on a topic in German Idealism. I studied it closely for about a year sitting in on an advanced seminar led by Birgit Sandkaulen at the University of Jena, where I had my first job. I immediately recognized that I would have to revise my entire view of post-Kantian German philosophy, my area of specialization, based on the insight that, at its center, it was intended as a response to Spinoza. More importantly, however, it was the work’s almost paradoxical character that I found electrifying: its armored exterior, on the one hand, consisting of axioms, definitions, and more than 250 numbered propositions closely demonstrated in the manner of geometric proofs; and the sublimity of its interior, thus ensconced and protected, in which (in the words of Gueroult) “the whole extent of mystical desire attained satisfaction in the simple flowering of reason.” In one way or another, most of the work I have done since has been influenced by Spinoza’s Ethics.

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