Superstition, Free Speech, and “Catholica Fides” in Spinoza’s Res Publica

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There is a tension in Spinoza between a definition of superstition that makes it inherently seditious (and therefore subject to the limitations that Spinoza sets for freedom of speech) and his justification for freedom of speech in Theological Political Treatise. Here, I will explain the tension based on an interpretation of superstition I have defended in previous work; then I will show how Spinoza was aware that suppression of superstition vis-à-vis its being seditious may promote, rather than prevent, instability. Finally, I will explore how Spinoza’s tenets of universal faith are attempts to inoculate a society against the spread of superstitious beliefs and offer a few suggestions on a secular alternative to Spinoza’s tenets of faith.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Feb 2021


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