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Theologico-Political Treatise — Part 1   By: (1632-1677)

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A Theologico Political Treatise

Part 1 Chapters I to V

Baruch Spinoza

A Theologico Political Treatise

Part 1 Chapters I to V


PREFACE. Origin and consequences of superstition.

Causes that have led the author to write.

Course of his investigation.

For what readers the treatise is designed. Submission of author to the rulers of his country.

CHAPTER I Of Prophecy.

Definition of prophecy.

Distinction between revelation to Moses and to the other prophets.

Between Christ and other recipients of revelation.

Ambiguity of the word "Spirit."

The different senses in which things may be referred to God.

Different senses of "Spirit of God."

Prophets perceived revelation by imagination.

CHAPTER II Of Prophets.

A mistake to suppose that prophecy can give knowledge of phenomena

Certainty of prophecy based on: (1) Vividness of imagination, (2) A Sign, (3) Goodness of the Prophet.

Variation of prophecy with the temperament and opinions of the individual.

CHAPTER III Of the Vocation of the Hebrews, and whether the Gift of Prophecy was peculiar to them.

Happiness of Hebrews did not consist in the inferiority of the Gentile.

Nor in philosophic knowledge or virtue.

But in their conduct of affairs of state and escape from political dangers.

Even this Distinction did not exist in the time of Abraham.

Testimony from the Old Testament itself to the share of the Gentiles in the law and favour of God.

Explanation of apparent discrepancy of the Epistle to the Romans.

Answer to the arguments for the eternal election of the Jews.

CHAPTER IV Of the Divine Law.

Laws either depend on natural necessity or on human decree. The existence of the latter not inconsistent with the former class of laws.

Divine law a kind of law founded on human decree: called Divine from its object.

Divine law: (1) universal; (2) independent of the truth of any historical narrative; (3) independent of rites and ceremonies; (4) its own reward.

Reason does not present God as a law giver for men.

Such a conception a proof of ignorance in Adam in the Israelites in Christians.

Testimony of the Scriptures in favour of reason and the rational view of the Divine.

CHAPTER V. Of the Ceremonial Law.

Ceremonial law of the Old Testament no part of the Divine universal law, but partial and temporary. Testimony of the prophets themselves to this Testimony of the New Testament.

How the ceremonial law tended to preserve the Hebrew kingdom.

Christian rites on a similar footing.

What part of the Scripture narratives is one bound to believe?

Authors Endnotes to the Treatise.

A Theologico Political Treatise

Part 1 Chapters I to V

PREFACE. (1)Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favoured by fortune: but being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune's greedily coveted favours, they are consequently, for the most part, very prone to credulity. (2) The human mind is readily swayed this way or that in times of doubt, especially when hope and fear are struggling for the mastery, though usually it is boastful, over confident, and vain.

(3) This as a general fact I suppose everyone knows, though few, I believe, know their own nature; no one can have lived in the world without observing that most people, when in prosperity, are so over brimming with wisdom (however inexperienced they may be), that they take every offer of advice as a personal insult, whereas in adversity they know not where to turn, but beg and pray for counsel from every passer by. (4) No plan is then too futile, too absurd, or too fatuous for their adoption; the most frivolous causes will raise them to hope, or plunge them into despair if anything happens during their fright which reminds them of some past good or ill, they think it portends a happy or unhappy issue, and therefore (though it may have proved abortive a hundred times before) style it a lucky or unlucky omen... Continue reading book >>

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