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Knowing the Essence of the State in Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus


  • Aaron Garrett

Aaron Garrett

Department of Philosophy

Boston University



This paper argues that Spinoza's main political writings are concerned, in part, with knowledge of essences as detailed in the Ethics. It is further argued that knowledge of the essences of states, and essential properties that belong to states, may be an example of the elusive scientia intuitiva or third kind of knowledge. The paper concludes by considering Spinoza's goals in his political writings and the importance of metaphysics and the theory of knowledge more broadly for early modern political philosophers.