"Radical Enlightenment" – Spinoza’s Demiurgic Role in the Formation of the Idea of Enlightenment?

Jolanta Żelazna

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/szhf.2015.005


In his monograph devoted to the history of enlightenment, Radical Enlightenment. Philosophy and the Making of Modernity (1650-1750) British historian Jonathan Irvine Israel formulated a new theory of dating, sources, and the nature of this period of history. Israel attributed a major role in the formation of the concepts of enlightenment to the philosophy of Spinoza (1632-1677). The work has caused a series of controversies and criticisms concerning the assessment of facts related to the history of ideas. In this article I refer to interpretations of the role of Spinoza’s philosophy and its early reception between 1663-1678 when it had a direct influence. The political situation in the Netherlands in the period of 1648-1677 (i.e. from the gaining of independence to the death of Spinoza) and the fate of the philosophy of Descartes (since 1650) are two significant factors that played an important role in shaping the initial reception of Spinozism and determined the fate of that philosophy for a long time.


Radical Entlightenment; J. I. Israel; Entlightenment; roots; Spinoza; A Theologico-Political Treatise; Opera posthuma

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