New Seminar on Spinoza’s Ethics

Announcing a New Seminar: “Spinoza’s Ethics: A Radical Reorientation of Metaphysics” to Start on June 18, 2024. Apply by June 13, 2024!

The seminar is organized by Dr. Dr. Timon Boehm and Christopher Hill, MA, MA. The meetings will be Tuesdays 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (US Central) beginning on June 18, 2024.

Content: Baruch de Spinoza (1632-77, in the Netherlands) was a controversial thinker of the early modern period who continues to unsettle readers to this day. His revision of metaphysical terms (e.g., “substance,” “attributes” and “modes”) constitutes a fundamental reorientation in Western philosophy. In particular, he no longer separates man from God or nature, but in his pantheism man is an “expression” of what he calls a single “substance,” which is, for him, identical with God or nature.

His pantheistic ethics was not only misunderstood by many, but also faced many hostilities: he was excommunicated, censored, and denounced an atheist. In the dispute concerning Spinoza’s reception, the so-called “pantheism controversy,” Moses Mendelssohn, a Jewish Enlightenment philosopher, tried to mediate and introduced the term of “orientation” into philosophy as a concept for “pausing to think” and deciding between alternatives without final certainties – which formed the very root of Stegmaier’s philosophy of orientation.

In this seminar, we will give an introduction to Spinoza’s main work, his Ethics, and relate it to important concepts of the philosophy of orientation, such as signs, perspectives, critical distancing, moral and ethical orientation, as well as the virtues of orientation. In contrast to today’s increasingly moral polarizations, Spinoza offers an alternative ethical orientation based on radical immanence that emphasizes relations and affects. This seminar is discussion-based; this means that participants are expected to read the assigned passages before the sessions. The seminar is free, but seats may be limited. Please apply by June 13, 2024, via the application form on our seminar page. Apply here!