Spinoza on method and freedom

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Begley, Bartholomew
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University College Cork
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The thesis as a whole argues that Spinoza’s Ethics in both method and content is aimed at the normal, partly rational person. Chapter 1 is on Spinoza’s writing style, finding that rather than being arid and technical, it aims to convince the reader by means of various rhetorical techniques, so does not assume an already rational reader. The following chapters of Part 1 examine whether the Ethics’ use of the synthetic geometric method exposes it to Descartes’ critique of that method in the “Second Replies” to his Meditations, that it is not suitable for pedagogy. This involves a consideration of the role of the TIE, finding in that early text not the analytic wing of a two-part analytic-synthetic method, but rather a defence and necessitation of a stand-alone synthetic method. Part 2 of the thesis develops this study of Spinoza’s writing for the common man to consider whether he is writing about the common man. This is done by examining one of the seemingly most abstract propositions in the Ethics, 4P72, which claims that a free man will not deceive even to save his own life. The study examines who exactly is this “free man” and what is his role in the Ethics. The study looks at the examples of free men in the TTP and at the concept of the model in the Ethics, and finds that rather than the free man being an impossible ideal which we can aim at but never achieve, everyone is free to some extent, and that even normal people are at times “the free man”.
Spinoza , Synthetic and analytic methods , Freedom and the free man
Begley, B. 2015. Spinoza on method and freedom. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.