Spinoza Past and Present: Essays on Spinoza, Spinozism and Spinoza Scholarshipby Clare Carlisle

British Journal for the History of Philosophy




Interpreting Spinoza: Critical Essays

Eric Schliesser

In Honour of Spinoza


Spinoza and Modern Psychology

Amy E. Tanner

Benedictus de Spinoza



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Spinoza Past and Present: Essays on Spinoza, Spinozism and

Spinoza Scholarship

Clare Carlislea a King's College London

Published online: 13 Mar 2015.

To cite this article: Clare Carlisle (2015) Spinoza Past and Present: Essays on Spinoza,

Spinozism and Spinoza Scholarship, British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 23:3, 585-589, DOI: 10.1080/09608788.2015.1013916

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09608788.2015.1013916


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Averroism continued to figure as a point of reference in the eighteenth century and in particular in the German Enlightenment. Johann Gottfried

Herder attacked Kant’s transcendental idealism as just another version of

Averroism (Sgarbi, 256, 266). A number of points of contact have been identified by commentators, the most notable being oneness of mind in the agent intellect and the transcendental subject (256–8). Marco Sgarbi concludes his fascinating review of such claims by saying that while Kant was certainly no Averroist, his philosophy was open to Averroistic interpretations (269).

Sidelined at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Averroism found a new spokesman later that century in the form of Ernst Renan, whose important book Averroès et l’averroïsme of 1852 is discussed by John Marenbon.

Renan’s book was important for offering an account of Averroism as a philosophical tradition, running through Jewish philosophy and medieval and

Renaissance philosophy. Marenbon argues that Renan’s account and his methodology are subtler than is usually supposed (274). James Montgomery’s critical discussion of Straussianism does not explicitly address Averroism but has much to say about that approach to Arabic philosophy that is relevant to the concerns of the volume as a whole. The volume concludes with Anna Akasoy’s discussion of the label ‘Averroist’ from Aquinas onwards, asking the question whether Ibn Rushd himself was an Averroist.

This involves a second discussion of Straussian and anti-Straussian approaches, which she tries to map onto analytic and continental approaches to the history of philosophy, respectively. These final chapters might be said to wander off topic a little, but they are far from irrelevant and add a welcome methodological dimension to the collection.

As a volume of conference proceedings, it would be unfair to expect a complete, joined-up history of Averroism from the Renaissance to the present. Even so the chapters taken together do offer surprisingly full coverage, making the whole more than merely the sum of its parts.

John Sellars

King’s College London © 2015, John Sellars http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09608788.2015.1022131

Wiep van Bunge: Spinoza Past and Present: Essays on Spinoza, Spinozism and Spinoza Scholarship. Leiden: Brill, 2012, pp. 256. €108.00 (hb). ISBN 9789004231375.

This collection brings together twelve essays by Wiep van Bunge, eleven of them previously published elsewhere, in some cases in Dutch. Most of the essays were written during the last decade. Their topics range quite widely but there is a particular emphasis on the Dutch context, offering Anglophone readers an interesting perspective on Spinoza scholarship.


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Chapters One, Four, Eight and Nine focus on the seventeenth-century context in which Spinoza developed his distinctive and controversial philosophy. In his opening chapter ‘Baruch or Benedict? Spinoza as a Marrano’,

Bunge asks to what extent Spinoza should be considered a Jewish philosopher. This is a timely question, since recent years have seen several excellent studies of Spinoza that accentuate the Jewish background to his thought – some of them too recent to be included by Bunge. He considers in particular the interpretation developed by Yirmiyahu Yovel, who finds in Spinoza’s thinking a multi-layered duplicity or ambiguity that can be traced to the philosopher’s Marrano roots. Bunge argues that ‘to any historian of philosophy the Dutch intellectual context would seem to be far more relevant to the genesis of Spinoza’s thought than his Jewish, let alone his supposed

Marrano, background’ (10), and points out that ‘no variety of Marrano culture produced any source of Spinoza’s philosophy comparable to Descartes’ Principia [or] Hobbes’ Leviathan’ (9). Furthermore, he emphasizes