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The Great Philosophers: Spinoza [Paperback]

Roger Scruton
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 July 1998 Great Philosophers
Born to be misunderstood, Spinoza was a man whose theology was banned for Godlessness. The very virtuosity of his reasoning left logicians unsettled, while even to professional thinkers in our own time, Spinoza has seemed too clever by half. And yet, as Roger Scruton shows in this strikingly readable introduction to the man and his though, Spinoza's concerns were both simple and sublime. Few philosophers, indeed, have shown such a straightforward, sustained and honest interest in uncovering the most fundamental aspects of existence. Too important to be dismissed as a mere genius, Spinoza is rediscovered here in all his quiet and consoling simplicity.


Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (6 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753802139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753802137
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.6 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,355,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Roger Scruton is currently Research Professor for the Institute for the Psychological Sciences where he teaches philosophy at their graduate school in both Washington and Oxford. He is a writer, philosopher and public commentator. He has specialised in aesthetics with particular attention to music and architecture. He engages in contemporary political and cultural debates from the standpoint of a conservative thinker and is well known as a powerful polemicist. He has written widely in the press on political and cultural issues.


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Review

Review from previous edition 'an interesting and provocative guide' Christian Science Monitor 'His exposition is beautifully lucid.' Expository Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Roger Scruton was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge and was until 1990 Professor of Aesthetics at Birkbeck College, London.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting analysis of Spinoza's ideas 31 May 2010
By Steve
Format:Paperback
A very short introduction to this great 17th century rationalist philosopher was always going to be a tall order. In the preface, author and philosopher Roger Scruton acknowledges as much when he admits he has been unable to make Spinoza's theory of substance fully accessible, and that chapter 3 will need to be read twice if it is to be understood. As a beginner, I have to say I struggled through parts, but overall found it to be a fairly absorbing and well-structured analysis of Spinoza's key ideas.

Biographical details are for the most part limited to the first chapter, leaving the author free to devote the rest of the book to each theme in a more focused way - a wise decision, given the complexity of many of the areas of discussion. This book was first published in 1986 (like many in the series, it's a reprint of a 'Past Masters' title) which maybe goes some way to explaining why it may be 'Very Short' but it doesn't quite feel like an 'introduction'. That's not a major criticism though - this is still an instructive and worthwhile read.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spinoxa conceptual overview (lite) 29 Jan 2003
By Michael JR Jose VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The Jewish scholar Baruch (Benedict) de Spinoza (1632-77) lived in the Netherlands at a time when science, politics, religion, and philosophy were all in ferment. One of the last great philosophical 'system builders', he eagerly entered the fray, corresponding with and influencing the top minds of his day. A philosophical scholar whose manual trade was lens grinding, and whose chief passion was extending and completing the philosophical system of Descartes, he survived some real physical dangers, mostly caused by his rather heretical and revolutionary writings. His thought continues to influence modern scientists, as diverse as Albert Einstein (who famously believed in "Spinoza's God") and Sir Harry Kroto, a current British Nobel Laureate in chemistry. Spinoza is still studied by professional philosophers and historians.
The moral philosopher Roger Scruton covers his life and works in this short but positive work. His readable style is erudite and concise, and allusive without being elusive. As ever with this type of work, the author's main problem is the tight confines of the space allowed to the subject matter in a concise introduction. Moral - don't forget to read the Spinoza too! The chapters are: Life and character; Background; God; Man; Freedom; The body politic; and Spinoza's legacy. There is a glossary, further reading, and index. Not covered is Spinoza's influence on theology and Old Testament studies as set out in his important 'Theologico-Political Treatise', especially his remarks on prophecy, and the then avant-garde chapter on the authorship of the Pentateuch and other historical books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 10 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first came across Spinoza after reading a century of wisdom, and what a true find. Scruton is my new god of explaining the complex man, a fascinating book that again will make you think think think. Read it slowly and totally relish it
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Useful Guide 27 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Roger Scruton's stimulating introduction to the thought of Benedict de Spinoza.

I have yet to read Spinoza first-hand as I have been warned that it is an onerous task. I am however familiar with the work of Roger Scruton, and this guide will undoubtedly help the virgin reader familiarise himself with the challenging concepts that Spinoza wrestled with, before directly venturing into his work, as Scruton is without doubt a first-rate writer and philosopher.

The book takes in some of the very biggest themes in philosophy in a mere fifty-four pages, including free will, the existence of God and epistemological logic, so naturally there is a limitation in detail, if not scope. However, do not let the brevity of the book put you off: there is plenty of food for thought for lay readers and philosophers alike, and Scruton's writing is up to his usual lucid standard.

My overwhelming impression upon completing this work is that Spinoza is someone whom the modern reader can, surprisingly, sit with somewhat comfortably. Indeed his pantheism, if you accept that's what his work amounts to, strikes me as being finely in tune with spiritually hungry westerners, who yearn for the beautiful, the spiritual and the sacred, but who nevertheless find it difficult to sign up to the arcane and dogmatic teachings of organised religion (and who equally struggle with the cold and austere implications of modern science).

It is not clear if Scruton accepts that Spinoza's work amounts to out and out pantheism, but it is clear that he believes him to be a tonic for the modern age. A thoroughly critical appraisal of Spinoza is of course far beyond the reach of an introductory book review, particularly if, like me, you are not directly acquainted with is work.
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