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Spinoza's theological and political treatises are not conventional philosophical works in the sense that the term philosophy is defined. It is a work of writing written in an enigmatic and difficult style that is rich in Biblical quotations (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). This is the type of work that was established in the social and political world rather than following the principles of philosophical reasoning. Spinoza's principal goal in creating his book was to improve people's freedom by broadening their freedom of thought throughout the Dutch community (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). The only way that Spinoza could do this would be through the weakening of ecclesiastical power along with lowering the standing status of theology. He did this so that he could establish a free and stable society.
The Theological-Political Treatise tables a comprehensive concept of religion and the ways that ecclesiastical leadership could overpower the rights of men and at the same time providing new methods to exercise Biblical exegesis. There were more challenges to Priestly authority, Piety, scripture, faith and scripture criticism that Spinoza had to overcome (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). According to Spinoza, a thinker who was born and bred while the thirty years war era was closing did not see the vital need to combat religious prejudice, authoritarianism, and intolerance. The essay below establishes the reason why Spinoza found such governance as a false notion of management through public policy, morality and education. This only appeared to him as a form of threat and damage to every life represented in the society. Spinoza practically presents this book as a collection of treaties. The essay below shall expound on how utility structured Spinoza's concept of political conventions.
At one time in the study, Spinoza has a critical exchange between Burgh and himself. This exchange concludes with a discussion on superstition whereby Spinoza finds that it would be better for the state to sponsor a religion that he did not believe in. He thinks that religion is all about superstition (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). He believes that it is a pure superstition that individuals would understand that the universal creed is the universal denominator of all religious sections. In accordance to Spinoza, irrationality is grounded on fear and hope hence in simple terms it would mean that a religion that was not- superstitious would not be rooted in fear or desire (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). It would be correct to establish that it would not be the exact contents of a religion that will lead to it being superstitious other than the feelings in connection with it.
Spinoza wants to inquire most people illogically go after beliefs which lead to violence, anti-rational and war. He wonders why people get distracted from the focus on Christianity. The message conveyed by Christianity is to uphold love and spread joy among fellow humans which should overcome hatred as well as resentments. Conflicting messages puts a government that governs people in a compromising situation and denies them the opportunity to serve them at their best. Thus, Spinoza says that it is the responsibility of both the church and state to talk to the public and to exercise patience and learn to remain irrational as well as powerless; consequently making sure that their power is sustained.
However, when such elements are observed the outcome is a kind of society which that denies its people the opportunity to apply and use the voice of reasoning. Besides, such encourages enslavement of the nation by the community itself. The author says that enlightenment entails empowering individuals to make and exercise their reason. Nevertheless, Spinoza acknowledges that growth in rationality relies mostly on the political situation as well as the social condition of a given society. According to Spinoza & Israel( 2007) in a democratic world, freedom of expression and washing away of superstition are significant actions which encourage and promote the use of reasoning. For instances, he argues that a miracle is not necessarily a divine intervention, however, could be a natural event whose determinants or causes are not known to human beings. Thus, from all of the above discussion, it comes out that theology is different from philosophy and science. As a result, there should be freedom of expression.
On the other hand, Spinoza claims that the bible as a book of God does not seem appropriately manifest or rather reveal the metaphysical reality, but rather a human book which is subject to criticism as well as critical interpretations just like any form of literary work. Thus, theology has many components to make it useful and integrated into society. Spinoza's commonly known and provocative argument is that God is not the maker of the world; however, the world is part of God. And the latter is often recognized as pantheism, which is the principle God together with the world is the same thing. Hence, such idea contradicts what Christian and Jews believe in. That is most of his work was not taken seriously during his lifetime, but later after modern philosophy and theology studies explored it, they came to realize that indeed he had a point.
In the text, there is polemical literature written by the Jews against the Christians and former converses and polemical literature written by the Christians against the Jews. This brings out Spinoza's rejection of the Jewish believes, and at the same time, this does not mean that he is sympathetic of the Christian faith as well. In that case, his arguments against both may be termed as an over a statement that may need to be proven even further. All in all, most of the declarations that he made were also stated by Socinians and numerous other Christian sects (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). On that note, what Spinoza's say about Christianity is determined by a political concern in which the religion is termed as a discord between the social and political realms including the civil wars. In the text, Spinoza verbally endorses Christianity but de-emphasizes some religious aspects, for example, the resurrection or Eucharist (Spinoza & Israel, 2007).
Spinoza is more concerned with what is practical and religious in connection to universal determinism, conatus and the identity of will and intellect in God (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). According to him, God can never be the lawgiver who would then be translated to any laws be they religious, social or political wholesomely came from human beings. On that note, these stipulate the reason why Spinoza is not concerned by the laws of reason but by the intellect which are two very different terms in meaning. According to Spinoza, there is no rationalization in nature (Spinoza & Israel, 2007).
As we move deeper into the text, Spinoza begs the question, "to what extent can moral criticism be justified?" (Spinoza & Israel, 2007) Placing arguments in accordance to him would be to say that the state is what augments the power of the people. This means that any act that would bring forth any form of rebellion with the intention to destroy the strength and control of the nation would be fundamentally unpredictable. Spinoza does not mind the uprising as long as there is another individual who believes that he can be a lucky man. If the rebel is a successful person, then this means that any philosopher would only be forced to join and move with force.
When it comes to his curious defense of toleration, Spinoza sets out to reveal the freedom resulting from the ability to philosophize with peace and piety. Peace is what he establishes to be much closer to toleration although Spinoza may not be able to accommodate this quite as comfortable as it may be required (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). The only morality he deems tolerable would be if people in one state would have only one belief with intolerance to any other religion whatsoever. For most individuals, the thrill of having free will is not a miracle whatsoever but rather a concept that can easily be explained to cause wonder.
Spinoza adopts two ways in which he can achieve a good life, and they include Philosophy and the imagination. Philosophy, in this case, would be the world and the people that live in it, and the imagination which simply gives an account of the world that acts as a guide to how we think and behave. Many individuals are more or less led through life by their imagination and what they passive to be their passion in life. From this, they can form a picture of the world through their history. This shows that any community must be dependent on a common story that is their history. The Dutch society was deeply rooted in the division through politics, religion, and intellect (Spinoza & Israel, 2007). This is a society that was in dire need of a better and more inclusive narrative.
According to the essay above, utility is brought about as a notion of being useful. This shows that Spinoza was looking for a way in which there would be more use in life other than being led by religious aspects. Spinoza did not believe in politics, and religious should ever mix mainly because he saw no use in the laws of religion in the lives of men. Through the essay above, Spinoza is against the superstition which in this case is in conjunction to religion. As an atheist, he believes that the Dutch were a society that was divided mainly because they had different beliefs that were superstitious and this gave a different meaning to similar aspects. According to him, he would prefer a world that believed in one thing or religion in toleration of none other religion.
According to him, it would be more useful if one was rebellious and he or she ended up being successful in it. This means that his rebel is worth the risk if it would lead to change that would unite the people of the world.
On that note, laws cannot be given by any God for human beings to follow. He simply gives the reason as all the rules and laws came from the intellect of the human beings which means that they were thought of and established by man. In accordance to him, human beings are the only beings that can bring about change that is not established by religious superstition but by the unity in man's reasoning.
Spinoza, B. ., & Israel, J. I. (2007). Theological-political treatise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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