Spinoza’s Ethica onder de favorieten

Op 14 juni 2011 bracht The Guardian de door haar redacteuren  samengestelde lijst van The 100 greatest non-fiction books.

Op die lijst kwam Spinoza niet voor.

“We've had fun compiling our list of the best non-fiction books to coincide with the announcement of the shortlist for this year's Samuel Johnson prize, but there's bound to be the odd omission. Can you fill in the gaps?”

De lezers werden in staat gesteld hun eigen favorieten in te zenden.

En vandaag werd deze lijst gepubliceerd.

“We asked for suggestions of your favourite non-fiction books. Here are the results for politics, philosophy and economics.”

179 mensen hadden hun favoriete boek ingezonden. En nu kwam Spinoza’s Ethica te voorschijn, en wel 4x! Even vaak als Plato's The Republic [4x] en Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations  [4x]

Wealth of Nations      Adam Smith [17x]
Das Kapital/Capital    Karl Marx  [13]
A Theory of Justice     John Rawls [8x]

British Museum Reading Room


Interessant zijn deze motiveringen:

[1] A byword for pantheism and atheistic heresy undiscussable in universities for 100 years, the influence of Spinoza's Ethics can only be understood fully with an inside knowledge of the text and an eye for Spinozistic twists in later authors' works. Leibniz and Marx heavily annotated the Ethics, while the philosophies of Fichte and Hegel can only be understood after Spinoza. French thinkers such as Althusser, Deleuze and Balibar have all tried to 'think' Spinoza in modernity. Einstein said if he believed in a god, it was Spinoza's. Cantor described the 36th proposition of the first part as the greatest thing ever written. George Elliot, both Shelleys, Coleridge, are just a few who took literary inspiration. Shall I continue...?


[2] Spinoza's Ethic, the sum of a lifelong philosophical research and an astoundingly comprehensive system of thought, is perhaps the best hidden secret of philosophy. It was however a deep influence for most philosophers of the next centuries. Built "more geometrico", in a geometrical way, with definitions, propositions and explanations, it sets a complete theories of "Deus cive Natura", God or rather Nature, hugely used by the philosophers of the Enlightments. It is also the first book about human mind, announcing psychoanalysis as well as a possible inspiration for Adam Smith (one of the definitions sets, 100 years before, the principle of the "invisible hand"), and most notably, sets democracy as the best possible political system as it enables man to fully use his power of persevere in its being. At the same period, Hobbes would demonstrate instead how more relevant it was to have an absolute monarchy. "Ethic" is above all a book about freedom and happiness, love, nature and Man, about a philosopher who was persecuted all his life, and spent his existence hand grinding telescope lenses, send letters to Pascal and smoke his pipe - what he described as the best definition of happiness...


[3] This is the most daring book of history which tries to understand human affects from the precise account of geometry