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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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The Authority of Reason

The Authority of Reason

(p.183) 7 The Authority of Reason
Spinoza's Book of Life

Steven B. Smith

Yale University Press

This chapter shows how the Ethics has bequeathed a series of problems to think through, the most important of which concerns the authority of reason to govern life and thought. That the Ethics is regarded as a classic work of philosophical rationalism goes without saying; the question concerns the scope and limits of reason. There are those, primarily the students of Hume and Kant, who believe that attempts like Spinoza's to deduce what is from the postulates or categories of pure reason is an inherently futile enterprise, that the issues with which the Ethics deals are better left to empirical or experimental science, that we can learn nothing valuable about the world from the deductive series of propositions that constitutes the work.

Keywords:   series of problems, authority of reason, philosophical rationalism, limits of reason, pure reason, experimental science

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