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Ethics (Oxford Philosophical Texts) Paperback – 10 Aug 2000

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4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews from Amazon.com

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'Thanks to sound methodology and fidelity to the orignal text, this will be an invaluable asset to the scholar.' Bulletin Spinoziste

About the Author

G.H.R. Parkinson was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading and is a widely known and well respected Spinoza scholar.

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Introduction to Spinoza 22 Jun. 2008
By Reader From Aurora - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The following comments pertain to The Oxford Philosophical Texts version of Spinoza's Ethics translated and edited by G.H. Parkinson. Though Spinoza is an important thinker in the Western philosophical tradition, my comments are limited to what I perceive to be the particular strengths and weaknesses of this translation, rather, than an analysis of the Ethics itself. Readers seeking an introduction to Spinoza work may be best served by an introductory text such as the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (Audi), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Honderich), or a reputable on-line source such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Comments from Amazon reviewers, while normally well intended, are often too heavily skewed in one direction or the other to serve as an introduction (that is not to say they are not useful or interesting in other ways). Points of interest for potential purchasers include:

- Introduction. Excellent detailed introduction to Spinoza's thought and the context within which he wrote - helpful in situating the reader.

- Glossary. A nice concise glossary, defining salient aspects of Spinoza's terminology - essential in first approaching this piece,

- Layout. Good font, size large margins,

- Summary. A concise overview of the Ethics (12 pgs), its key ideas and its trajectory,

- Translation. Although the quality has been criticized by a previous reviewer, I found it to be comparatively good and readable (That said, I have not attempted a translation from the original Latin or Dutch manuscripts). As noted, however, there is one glaring mistake early on (Part 1, Def 2), "...finite in its own kind which cannot be limited...' - should read `can' rather than `cannot'. While this error needs correction in future editions, it strikes as a typo, and is not indicative of the text's overall quality.

Overall, I highly recommend this version of the Ethics for students/readers seeking an accessible introduction to Spinoza. I look forward to using other installments of this Oxford series. On a related note, for readers new to Spinoza, Howard Ruttenburgs' Introduction to Modern Philosophy (Phil 213) audio lectures may also be helpful. The audio lectures are available on-line at no charge. Ruttenburg is a philosophy professor at City University of New York.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I simply cannot see from the eye of Eternity 4 Nov. 2004
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The 'Ethics' is one of the landmark works in the History of Philosophy. Its influence is great both within philosophy itself and in and through general culture. For Goethe and for Coleridge and for many other pillars of Western Literature its wisdom opens up new depths of literature. Spinoza's role in Western Culture as one who follows Descartes and in some sense leads to what comes next in the Tradition is far different from what his place is in the Jewish tradition. Spinoza was put under herem a form of excommunication and cast out of the organized Jewish community in Amsterdam. Will Durant said that he was the only great philosopher who lived in accordance with his thought and there is the conception of Spinoza as somehow living in the pure realm of his own thought. Despite however his rejection by the established Jewish tradition Spinoza became the great intellectual hero of ' freethinking Jews' and the inspiration of many to this day . Isaac Singer is only the most recent of Jewish cultural figures to be enthralled and obsessed with the spirit of Spinoza.

The 'Ethics' is a difficult work. And it is a work which aims to be rigorous in its logic, a geometry of the moral life. It reasons to an identification of the Infinite with Nature- but that Infinite and this is the heretic Spinoza is not a personal

G-d. Spinoza teaches that the human being should master emotion by mind and by seeing all from the ' eye of Eternity ' look upon the life and world with a divine calm. Perhaps it was easier the unmarried , childless Spinoza to attain such calm than it is for most ordinary family people.

The Ethics again is a difficult work and one I do not pretend to understand. Reading it one comes across unforgettable sentences solidly constructed and part of the whole edifice Spinoza has built. Those interested and capable of it will find the whole world of ' substance ' and 'modes' and ' attributes ' connecting with each other in one ethical metaphysical picture of ultimate reality. I do not understand the picture nor do I think any longer ' language of that kind' can really give us ' the whole world structure and meaning'.

I am saying in a way that this work is very rich and very great, and no doubt more so for those unlike myself who might understand it in a fundamental way.
64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The purest and most beautiful philosophical system 30 Dec. 2000
By TheIrrationalMan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Spinoza's "Ethics" urges the reader to live a life in accordance with the laws of reason, whose consummation is blessedness through the knowledge of God. His naturalist postulate of God as synonomous with the whole of the natural world was perhaps the most inspired and original reformulation of the concept of God. One can even go so far as to say that his theism, as it were, was the most realistic, as it rejected all forms of anthropomorphism, all figurative and personal epithets in reference to God, such as the conception of God held by traditional theology, as the creator of the universe "ex nihilo". As such, the "Ethics" is patently anti-creationist. Not surprisingly, his position led him into being denounced (with good reason) as a freethinker, a heretic and atheist. His argument can briefly be summarised as follows. He takes as his most basic premise that in order to know a thing, one must first of all acquire a complete knowledge of the cause of the thing. Substance, he defined as that whose conception does not depend on the conception of another thing from which it must be formed. In other words, that which can be known through itself can not have an external cause. Thus, Spinoza defined substance as the cause of itself, (causa sui) and that it is therefore explained through itself and not by reference to another cause. It should be noted that this may seem self-contradictory (as in how can something uncaused be the source of its own causation prior to the act of causation itself?) though Spinoza clearly means this in a logical, and not causal, sense. Substance does not depend on another for its existence nor for its attributes and modifications. Consequently, Spinoza implied that the essence of substance implies existence, and substance must be conceived as existing. In consequence, he reached the proposition that substance must be infinite. For to be finite means to be limited, and limited by some other substance of the same nature, that is having the same attribute. By attribute, he defines the intellectual perception of the essence of a substance. Therefore, there could not be two substances, since both having the same essence would be indistinguishable from each other. Therefore, if there can not be two or more substances possessing the same attribute substance must be infinite. It was this substance, held to be infinite, which Spinoza identified with God, whom he understood as an absolutely infinite being or substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses external and infinite essence. Two of these attributes are known to us, that is thought and extension. Finite minds are modes of God under the attribute of thought, and finite bodies are modes of God under the attribute of extension. Thus, nature is not ontologically distinct from God. Both, are in fact, the same. Admittedly, Spinoza has had as many admirers as critics, such as Schopenhauer, who dismissed his philosophy as a merely cunning play on words in its identification of God and nature, a device for enriching the language through a mere redescription of nature. Others have objected to the rigour and exactitude of his logical method, which was an offshoot of, though a powerful rebuttal of, his mentor, Descartes. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the elegant simplicity and personal charm of his style is what makes him truly one of the most "lovable of the great philosophers," to quote Bertrand Russell. His philosophy, it has also been said, still provides an alternative to atomistic science, and was notable for the direct influence it had on Romanticism, particularly on the most towering figure of Romantic science itself, Goethe, the last "Universal Man".
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon indiscriminately adds the same reviews to different editions. 4 Oct. 2011
By Coffee Drinker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There are several editions of Spinoza's Ethics on Amazon, each authored by a different different translator. Some of the consumer reviews address specific problems with specific translations by specific translators--including printers' mistakes such as typographical errors. But for some crazy reason Amazon seems to have applied the consumer reviews of specific editions of Ethics to ALL other editions as well--as if they ALL contain the same errors, which, of course, they don't. This is, of course, idiotic. Beware as you read these reviews because they may not be at all about the particular book you're considering.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Spinoza Fans. 25 Mar. 1999
By Joseph B. Yesselman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Highly recommended for its informative Introduction, less-archaic translations, and Endnotes.
Page 260 Endnote 1:
"Spinoza's definitions are of the kind now commonly called 'stipulative'; that is, they tell the reader how Spinoza proposes to use certain words. Spinoza is not concerned (as a Dictionary is concerned) to describe the standard uses of words. His Purpose, as he observes in the Ethics (E3:Def.XX.Expl.) is to explain, not the meaning of words, but the nature of things. One may compare what is done by scientists, when they introduce new technical terms, or give old words a new sense, with a view to explaining what it is that interests them."
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