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A Short Introduction To Spinoza

. 1 min read

Even though they don't teach me anything new I quite enjoy watching these short animated introductions to philosophers narrated by Alain de Botton. This video does a good job of introducing the work of Spinoza. I'm not too sure about the ending though, in fact, Spinoza might have agreed that religion remains popular because it appeals to certain human needs. This, after all, is a very rational explanation of religion and its appeal.

Spinoza's Ethics is one of the greatest books in philosophy. It ends with one of the most beautiful and most memorable final sentences in philosophy. The only other contestant is, of course, the final sentence of Wittgenstein's Tractatus.

There's still a lot of inspiration to be had from reading Spinoza, whether the Ethics or his Treatise on the Improvement of the Understanding. For example, his distinction between different kinds of knowledge is still relevant. We may know something from hear-say, we may know something because we have observed it ourselves and we may know something because we fully understand a proof or a theory.

Roger Scruton has written a good introduction to Spinoza as part of the Very Short Introduction series published by Oxford University Press. The entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is also quite good.