An important philosophical turn that took place in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Enlightenment thought was the abandonment of transcendence, the strict separation of religion and philosophy, and the rise of a one-substance immanent ontology. It has been argued that this ‘radical’ turn brought about the philosophical foundation for democracy.
According to the thesis I will defend in what follows, the immanent ontology indeed has a political subversive meaning. Inspired by the texts and ideas of Machiavelli, it entailed a radical change of focus: from a theological scheme with a hierarchical structure to the world in which we live, in which all humans are equal. This radical change had consequences at the level of the civil state: e.g. the necessity of free thought and free speech, which may lead to resistance, refusal, and disobedience. I will argue that this Spinozistic radicalism can only be adequately understood if we take into account on the one hand the radical thought of fellow thinkers from his circle, and on the other the subversive image of Spinoza as constructed by his opponents.
I will illustrate my thesis by referring to subversive texts that were written by allies and friends of Spinoza, to political treatises and pamphlets written by van den Enden, and to dictionaries and grammar book by Meyer and Koerbagh. I compare their work to Spinoza’s political texts, the Tractatus theologico-politicus and Tractatus politicus, while paying particular attention to the issue of language. Finally, I confront these texts with two refutations written by two adversaries of Spinoza – Blyenbergh and Verwer – who clarify the political nature of the polemic.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)49-102
Aantal pagina's53
StatusPublished - 2014
EvenementDe Radicale Verlichting: Het grote verhaal en zijn details. - University Foundation, 11 Egmontstraat, B-1000 Brussels
Duur: 16 mei 201317 mei 2013


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