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The Relevance of Spinoza’s Political Philosophy Today

Posted on by BPH


Spinoza, being a prime exponent of the Embassy of the Free Mind with his thoughts on freedom of conscience and freedom to philosophise, will be a key figure in the House with the Heads when it opens.

Chaired by Karianne Marx and introduced by Peter Paul van Loon, the Amsterdamse Spinoza Kring held its ninth annual meeting, on the theme of the relevance of Spinoza’s political philosophy for us today, in a sold-out Paradiso in Amsterdam on Sunday 28 November.


Henri Krop, translator of Spinoza’s ‘Ethica’, Tinneke Beeckman, author of ‘Through Spinoza’s Lens’ (subtitle: An Exercise in Philosophy of Life) and David Kenning, a counter-radicalism expert greatly inspired by Spinoza, discussed the ‘Tractatus Theologico-Politicus’ and especially the unfinished ‘Tractatus Politicus’ to present Spinoza’s thoughts on issues of political and religious intolerance. For Spinoza, freedom was even more important than tolerance, whereby he conceived freedom not only as an external force, but more crucially as an internal one. Tolerance itself is not sufficient for a viable democracy, it takes active citizenship. To Spinoza, tolerance and social cohesion were not abstract or Utopian ideals, but values which he encountered in the Amsterdam he knew and loved. ‘In this flourishing state, a city of the highest renown, men of every race and sect live in complete harmony’ – underpinned by the trust in the legal system.


Nelleke Noordervliet, author of ‘Vrij Man’ (Free Man) a novel on the politics of the Republic, historical figures such as Koerbagh, Spinoza and De Witt and much more, presented a column.


The afternoon got off to a flying start when Piet Steenbakkers, emeritus professor Spinoza Studies, launched a new website containing all the available documents and data pertaining to Spinoza and his networks. Check out:, for the Timeline Experience and the Database Search (categories: Works, Locations, Letters and People).


Credits photo’s: Gerard Arninkhof

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