Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity by Steven B. Smith
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Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity
By Steven B. Smith

Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity

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Spinoza, Liberalism and the Question of Jewish Identity by Steven B. Smith

Book Description

Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677)--often recognized as the first modern Jewish thinker--was also a founder of modern liberal political philosophy. This book is the first to connect systematically these two aspects of Spinoza's legacy. Steven B. Smith shows that Spinoza was a politically engaged theorist who both advocated and embodied a new conception of the emancipated individual, a thinker who decisively influenced such diverse movements as the Enlightenment, liberalism, and political Zionism. Focusing on Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise, Smith argues that Spinoza was the first thinker of note to make the civil status of Jews and Judaism (what later became known as the Jewish Question) an essential ingredient of modern political thought. Before Marx or Freud, Smith notes, Spinoza recast Judaism to include the liberal values of autonomy and emancipation from tradition. Smith examines the circumstances of Spinoza's excommunication from the Jewish community of Amsterdam, his skeptical assault on the authority of Scripture, his transformation of Mosaic prophecy into a progressive philosophy of history, his use of the language of natural right and the social contract to defend democratic political institutions, and his comprehensive comparison of the ancient Hebrew commonwealth and the modern commercial republic. According to Smith, Spinoza's Treatise represents a classic defense of religious toleration and intellectual freedom, showing them to be necessary foundations for political stability and liberal regimes. In this study Smith examines Spinoza's solution to the Jewish Question and asks whether a Judaism, so conceived, can long survive.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300076653
ISBN-10: 0300076657
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 16mm)
Pages: 290
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 12-Nov-1998
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...


Books By Author Steven B. Smith

Political Philosophy by Steven B. Smith Political Philosophy, Paperback (November 2012)

Who ought to govern? Why should I obey the law? What is the proper education for a citizen and a statesman? These questions probe some of the deepest and most enduring problems that every society confronts, regardless of time and place. This book introduces the wide terrain of political philosophy through the classic texts of the discipline.

Writings of Abraham Lincoln by Steven B. Smith Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Paperback (May 2012)

Abraham Lincoln never wrote a book: his ideas are contained in speeches, letters, and various occasional writings. This title shows that Lincoln deserves to be counted among the great political philosophers.

Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss by Steven B. Smith Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss, Hardback (May 2009)

The volume provides a comprehensive and non-partisan survey of the major themes and problems that constituted Strauss's work.

» View all books by Steven B. Smith

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