Philosophy 202
Great Traditions of Western Thought
The Modern Period


Discussion Questions for Spinoza's Ethics, Books II and V

In Book II of the Ethics, Spinoza moves from a discussion of God to a discussion of the mind. Among the interesting claims that he makes is that there is no free will. The final Book of the Ethics concerns human freedom. This has been a very influential part of Spinoza's philosophy because it concerns the possibility of human blessedness, a state of character that Spinoza presents as a genuine possibility for human beings. We need to focus on how he thinks of human freedom, since all things are caused, and how this can lead to the state of blessedness.

1. What is distinctive about Spinoza's conception of the human mind?

2. Why does Spinoza think that there is no free will?

3. Spinoza claims that love of God is the most constant of all emotions. Why is this so?

4. What does Spinoza mean by blessedness? How can it be achieved?


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