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Spinoza's Book of LifeFreedom and Redemption in the Ethics$
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Steven Smith

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300100198

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300100198.001.0001

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Thinking about God

Thinking about God

(p.31) 2 Thinking about God
Spinoza's Book of Life

Steven B. Smith

Yale University Press

This chapter presents a striking feature of the Ethics, which is Spinoza's decision to put God at the very beginning. Knowledge of God is, apparently, a precondition for knowledge of anything else. The opening eight definitions, followed by seven axioms, are intended to establish the framework for the system as a whole. These provide in a highly compressed and elusive manner the elements, the fundamental categories, of substance, attribute, infinity, causality, freedom, and eternity. The God that emerges in the opening pages of the Ethics is not the God of Scripture who created man in his image, but that of an infinitely extended substance with neither beginning nor end and who is not distant from the world but immanent within it.

Keywords:   knowledge of God, God of Scripture, infinitely extended substance, eight definitions, seven axioms

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