Spinoza, Enlightenment, and Classical German Philosophy

Sebastian Gardner

About author

Sebastian Gardner
Professor of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

e-mail: sebastian.gardner@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract


This paper offers a critical discussion of Jonathan Israel’s thesis that the political and moral ideas and values which define liberal democratic modernity should be regarded as the legacy of the Radical Enlightenment and thus as deriving from Spinoza. What I take issue with is not Israel’s map of the actual historical lines of intellectual descent of ideas and account of their social and political impact, but the accompanying conceptual claim, that Spinozism as filtrated by the naturalistic wing of eighteenth-century French thought, is conceptually sufficient for the ideology of modernity. The post-Kantian idealist development, I argue, qualifies as radical, and hinges on Spinoza, but its construal of Spinoza does not fit Israel’s thesis, and reflects an appreciation of the limitations, for the purpose of creating a rational modernity, of the naturalistic standpoint represented by thinkers such as d’Holbach.

Full Text:

PDF


References


  1. P. Bayle, Historical and Critical Dictionary: Selections, trans. R. H. Popkin, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis 1965.
  2. F. Beiser, Enlightenment, Revolution, and Romanticism: The Genesis of Modern German Political Thought, 1790-1800, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1992.
  3. F. Beiser (ed.), The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics, trans. F. Beiser, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996.
  4. H. Brunschwig, Enlightenment and Romanticism in Eighteenth-Century Prussia, trans. F. Jellinek, Chicago University Press, Chicago 1974.
  5. J. B. Bury, The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into its Origins and Growth, Macmillan, London 1920.
  6. K. Deligiorgi, Kant and the Culture of Enlightenment, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY 2005.
  7. L. Dickey, Hegel: Religion, Economics, and the Politics of Spirit 1770–1807, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1987.
  8. J. G. Fichte, Beitrag zur Berichtigung der Urtheile des Publikums über die französische Revolution (1793–94), [in:] Johann Gottlieb Fichtes sämmtliche Werke, hrsg. I. H. Fichte, 8 Bde., Veit & Comp., Berlin 1845–46, Bd. 6, pp. 39–288.
  9. J. G. Fichte, The Science of Knowledge, with the First and Second Introductions (1794–98), ed. and trans. P. Heath and J. Lachs, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1982.
  10. U. Goldenbaum, ”The Pantheismusstreit – Milestone or Stumbling Block in the German Reception of Spinoza?”, [in:] M. Hampe, U. Renz and R. Schnepf (eds), Spinoza’s Ethics: A Collective Commentary, Brill, Leiden 2011, pp. 325–350.
  11. L. Goldmann, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment: The Christian Burgess and the Enlightenment, trans. H. Maas, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1973.
  12. H. S. Harris, Hegel’s Development: Toward the Sunlight 1770–1801, Oxford: Clarendon 1972.
  13. G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), trans. A. V. Miller, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1977.
  14. G. W. F. Hegel, The Letters, trans. C. Butler and C. Seiler, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1984.
  15. J. Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–1750, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2001.
  16. J. Israel, ”Enlightenment! Which Enlightenment?”, Journal of the History of Ideas (67) 2006, pp. 523–545.
  17. J. Israel, Introduction to Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise, trans. M. Silverthorne and J. Israel, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2007.
  18. J. Israel, A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Origins of Democracy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 2010.
  19. J. Israel, Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750–1790, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2011.
  20. G. N. Izenberg, Impossible Individuality: Romanticism, Revolution, and the Origins of Modern Selfhood, 1787–1802, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1992.
  21. M. Jacob, ”The Crisis of the European Mind: Hazard Revisited”, [in:] P. Mack and M. Jacob (eds.), Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of H. G. Koenigsberger, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1987, pp. 251–272.
  22. F. H. Jacobi, Concerning the Doctrine of Spinoza in Letters to Moses Mendelssohn (1st edn. 1785, 2nd edn. 1789), [in:] The Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel ”Allwill”, trans. and ed. G. di Giovanni, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal & Kingston 1994.
  23. F. H. Jacobi, ”Something That Lessing Said” (1782), [in:] J. Schmidt (ed.), What is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions, University of California Press, Berkeley 1996, pp. 191–211.
  24. I. Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. and ed. M. J. Gregor, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996.
  25. A. J. La Vopa, ”A New Intellectual History? Jonathan Israel’s Enlightenment”, The Historical Journal (52) 2009, pp. 717–738.
  26. B. Lord, ”Spinoza, Equality, and Hierarchy”, History of Philosophy Quarterly (31/1) 2014, pp. 59–77.
  27. R. Maliks, ”Revolutionary Epigones: Kant and his Radical Followers”, [in:] History of Political Thought (33/4) 2012, pp. 647–671.
  28. M. Mendelssohn, Dialogues (1755), [in:] Philosophical Writings, trans. D. Dahlstrom, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1997.
  29. M. Mendelssohn, Morning Hours: Lectures on God’s Existence (1785), trans. D. Dahlstrom and C. Dyck, Springer, Dordrecht 2011.
  30. F. Nauen, Revolution, Idealism and Human Freedom: Schelling Hölderlin and Hegel and the Crisis of Early German Idealism, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague 1971.
  31. F. Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Ecce Home, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings, trans. J. Norman, ed. A. Ridley and J. Norman, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005.
  32. T. Pinkard, Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Sociality of Reason, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1994.
  33. R. Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem: On the Dissatisfactions of European High Culture, Blackwell, Oxford 1991.
  34. R. Pippin, Idealism as Modernism: Hegelian Variations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996.
  35. R. Pippin, Hegel’s Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2008.
  36. R. Roberts, The Romantic Conception of Life: Science and Philosophy in the Age of Goethe, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2002.
  37. R. Roberts, ”The Impact of German Idealism and Romanticism on Biology in the Nineteenth Century”, [in:] The Impact of Idealism: The Legacy of Post-Kantian German Thought, Vol. I, Philosophy and Natural Sciences, ed. K. Ameriks, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2013, pp. 105–133.
  38. F. W. J. Schelling, The Unconditional in Human Knowledge: Four Early Essays 1794–1796, ed. F. Marti, Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg 1980, pp. 59–149.
  39. F. Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man: In a Series of Letters (1793–95), trans. E. Wilkinson and L. Willoughby, Clarendon, Oxford 1982.
  40. F. Schlegel, Essay on the Concept of Republicanism Occasioned by the Kantian Tract ”Perpetual Peace” (1796), trans. F. Beiser, [in:] Beiser [1996], pp. 95–112.
  41. F. Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (1799), trans. and ed. R. Crouter, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1988.
  42. A. Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, 2 Vols., trans. E. F. J. Payne, Dover, New York 1966.
  43. P. Sloan, ” ’It Might Be Called Reverence’ ”, [in:] Darwinism & Philosophy, ed. V. Hösle and C. Illies, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame 2005, pp. 143–165.
  44. S. Stuurman, ”Pathways to the Enlightenment: From Paul Hazard to Jonathan Israel”, History Workshop Journal (54) 2002, pp. 227–235.

DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.40.2014.628

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/628
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/628/en

Share:






All works are licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License.