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Epilogue - Spinoza: the new Moses

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Chapter Summary

In the Preface to the Tractatus theologico-politicus, Spinoza criticizes oppressive and illiberal political regimes for inculcating theological or religious prejudices and superstitions among their populaces and conjoining theological and political convictions. Spinoza claims that Moses "excelled others in divine virtue"; Moses was able to persuade the people that he possessed it by demonstrating it to the people; and therefore he easily could retain his rule over the regime. Spinoza's statements about Moses and his function in respect of the constitution of the Hebrew theocratic regime appear conventional. But upon a closer inspection of the statements one finds the insinuation of something unconventional. It is said that Moses possessed "divine virtue"; and therefore it is to be inferred that his possession of that "divine virtue" enabled him to institute the Hebrew theocratic regime.

Keywords: Benedict Spinoza; Hebrew theocratic regime; illiberal political regimes; Moses; Tractatus theologico-politicus

10.1163/ej.9789004164857.i-254.11
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