23 September 2019

BOOK: Wolfgang BARTUSCHAT, Stephan KIRSTE, and Manfred WALTHER, eds., Naturalism and Democracy - A Commentary on Spinoza’s “Political Treatise”; in the Context of His System (Leiden-New York: Brill, 2019).

(Source: Brill)

Brill has published a new book on the political philosophy of Spinoza (translated from German).


Naturalism and Democracy, first published in German in 2014, presents a long-awaited commentary on Spinoza’s Political Treatise (Tractatus politicus). Its contents reflect a recent intensification in the interest in Spinoza’s political philosophy in Germany. The volume addresses Spinoza’s political philosophy according to its place within his philosophical system as a whole, beginning with his theory of the natural genesis of law and state. Following from this are commentaries on the foundations of political philosophy, the relation of natural and state law, the theory of sovereignty, and theory of international relations. These chapters lay the basis for four essays interpreting Spinoza’s attempt to conceive of a systematic optimization of political and legal institutions for all three forms of governance (monarchy, aristocracy, democracy). The volume closes with an analysis of the current relevance of Spinoza’s political thinking and his influence on contemporary debates.


Wolfgang Bartuschat is professor (ret.) of Philosophy at Hamburg University. His areas of research are Philosophy of Modernity (emphasis on Spinoza and Kant), Systematic Metaphysics, Hermeneutics, and Philosophy of Law. 

Stephan Kirste is professor of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy at the University of Salzburg. His interests lie in Philosophy of Law and Constitutional Law. 

Manfred Walther is professor (emeritus) of Philosophy of Law at the Law Faculty of the Leibniz University of Hannover. His main areas of research are the Philosophy of Law and State since antiquity, as well as Spinoza and his reception, mainly in Germany. 


Spinoza’s Ontology and Epistemology as Background to his Political Theory
By: Wolfgang Bartuschat
Pages: 1–10
Political Philosophy as Theory of Practice (Chapter 1: Introduction)
By: Stephan Kirste and Manfred Walther
Pages: 11–16
Natural and State Right, or, Spinoza’s Justification of Practical Reason (TP, Chapter 2)
By: Gunnar Hindrichs
Pages: 17–37
Spinoza’s Theory of Sovereignty (TP, Chapter 3, §§ 1–10)
By: Oliver W. Lembcke
Pages: 38–56
Spinoza’s Theory of International Relations (TP, Chapter 3, §§ 11–18)
By: Tilmann Altwicker
Pages: 57–67
Right and Reason in Spinoza’s Political Philosophy
On the Tasks and Limits of State Authority (TP, Chapter 4)
By: Tobias Herbst
Pages: 68–80
Theory of the Best State (TP, Chapter 5)
By: Martin Leiner
Pages: 81–92
Institutional Design to Stabilize the State i
Theory of the (Constitutional) Monarchy (TP, Chapters 6 and 7)
By: Manfred Walther
Pages: 93–102
Theory of the Aristocracy (TP, Chapters 8–10)
By: Wolfgang Bartuschat
Pages: 103–122
Spinoza’s Theory of Absolute Democracy (TP, Chapters 7/5, 8/1, 11; ttp 16)
By: Rainer Keil
Pages: 123–148
The Political Treatise in Present Discussion
By: Tilman Reitz
Pages: 149–180

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