Spinoza and the Philosophy of Love by Michael Strawser
In Spinoza and the Philosophy of Love, Michael Strawser provides a new reading of Spinoza as a philosopher of love, and one who centers his thought on an ethically qualified conception of noble love. Strawser examines the threefold conception of love found in Spinoza’s Ethics and argues that what is most important for Spinoza’s philosophy is a unified conception of love centered on nobility (amor sive generositas). This active conception of love can conquer hatred and bring people together.
Situating Spinoza’s philosophy of love within both Jewish and Western philosophical traditions, Strawser investigates questions in the philosophy of love together with Spinoza and thinkers such as Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, Leone Ebreo, Tullia d’Aragona, and René Descartes. He shows how Spinoza deepens our understanding of amorous perfectionism and how this reading of Spinoza’s philosophy of love serves as both a corrective to problematic readings, such as those found in Isaac Bashevis Singer and Emmanuel Levinas, and a counter to speciesism. With careful examination of Spinoza’s writings, Strawser demonstrates that the goal of his philosophy is best understood as the love of other people who are to be helped and united with in friendship. Ultimately, Spinoza’s philosophy of love calls for collective nobility.
Year first published: 2021