With his treatises on politics and the freedom to philosophize, Spinoza in the second half of the seventeenth century revolutionized the relationship between philosophy, politics and religion and thus laid the foundations for modern democracy. This did not happen without a struggle. The idea that there is no equality without freedom but also no freedom without equality was vilified as leading to revolt and anarchy. His plea for philosophical criticism was met with fierce and massive opposition from all sides. Yet Spinoza was not alone, he was part of a movement. Inspired by many anonymous treatises, the republican writings of his contemporary De la Court, the democratic ideas of his teacher Van den Enden and the subversive criticism of his friend Koerbagh, he continued on the trail laid by Machiavelli. But also the opposition on which his work was received played a role in the radicalization of his ideas and in the return to Machiavelli’s revolutionary principles. His example led to pamphlets such as the Esprit de Spinosa/Traité des trois imposteurs that reached a broad readership and thus gave decisive impulses to the Enlightenment.
Original languageDutch
Place of PublicationBrussels
Number of pages345
ISBN (Print)9789057187933
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2020


  • Early Modern Philosophy
  • political philosophy
  • Machiavelli
  • Spinoza and his circle
  • clandestine philosophy
  • Multitude
  • Critical free thought
  • Genealogy of Democracy


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