Benedict De Spinoza's Ethics In 17th Rationalism

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Spinoza’s Ethics

Benedict de Spinoza is one of the famous practitioners in 17th Rationalism and one of the early influential figures of Enlightenment. There are two compatible views, which are Spinoza is a moral anti-realist in the sense that he denies that there exist mind-independent moral properties and he holds that reason “demands that everyone love himself, seek his own advantage, that everyone should strive to preserve his own being as far as he can”. However, Spinoza’s approach to developing his positive moral theory is to reduce normative claims to considerations of self-interest in a manner reminiscent of Hobbes. Possibly, the difference between the Spinozist and the Hobbist approaches to egoism is that Spinoza provides a metaphysical
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One traditional moral problem regards the moral permissibility of self-harm, the ultimate case of which is suicide. Spinoza does not agree with most of the traditional religious reasons for treating suicide as a sin. God simply does not issue commandments in the way that a king issues commandments. Given this fact, Spinoza thinks, it makes little sense to try to explain moral claims like “Suicide is a sin” by appeal to such commandments. Although he disagrees with traditional reasons for taking suicide to be immoral, he nevertheless agrees that suicide is in fact immoral.

In his characterization of the “free man” at the end of part of the Ethics, Spinoza argues that a perfect rational being “always acts honestly, not deceptively”. Spinoza reasons that if a perfect rational being misleading, he would do so “from the dictate of reason” but then it would be rational to act in that way, and “men would be better advised to agree only in words, and be contrary to one another in fact”. One problem that this argument raises is conflict between Spinoza’s claim that a perfect rational being would always act honestly and his claim that such a being would never do anything that brought about its own
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Reason dictates that we seek out the companionship of other humans because they share our nature, and what is good for us is good for them. However, since non-human animals differ in nature from us, reason dictates that we “consider our own advantage, use them at our pleasure, and treat them as is most convenient for us”. So, in spite of the fact that Spinoza does not view humans as metaphysically privileged, he nevertheless holds that we need not concern ourselves with the welfare of non-human

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