The following essay by Spinoza about political systems was written in 1675, remained unfinished, and was published after Spinoza’s death in 1677. It is not to be confused with the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, which was published in 1670.  The latter contains a critique of Judaism and organized religion, and maintains that theology and philosophy should be […]

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Spinoza’s Ethics is one one of the most influential books in Western philosophy. It was published by a friend in 1677, shortly after he had died. It was immediately attacked as being atheistic, because it suggests a conception of God without any anthropomorphic characteristics. The God of Spinoza is not personal; it is a God […]

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John Locke, (1632 – 1704) is famous for his arguments against rationalism and his contributions to empiricism. In his political philosophy, he argues for tolerance and liberalism. He accepts Hobbes’ argument for a social contract, but he defines it differently. The problem that Hobbes faces is how the social contract can ever be created, when […]

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In Leviathan, Hobbes develops his doctrine of the foundation of states and legitimate governments. It is the first text that introduces the idea of a social contract. He also tries to create an objective science of morality. Leviathan was written during the English Civil War. The Leviathan intents to demonstrate the necessity of a strong central authority to avoid […]

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Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) is the first philosopher who introduces the idea that the State is based on a social contract. In his famous book “The Leviathan” (published 1651), which was written during the English Civil war (1642–1651), he argues for a strong central authority, in order to avoid the chaos that […]

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) is the philosopher of the French revolution; he criticizes Hobbes for assuming that the human in the  “state of nature . . . has no idea of goodness; he must be naturally wicked; that he is vicious because he does not know virtue.” Rousseau assumes the opposite: in the natural state, humans […]

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“Du Contract Social” (The Social Contract), 1762) is Rousseau’s most comprehensive work on politics. It is a cornerstone of modern political philosophy. BOOK I 1. SUBJECT OF THE FIRST BOOK MAN is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. […]

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