Spinoza on the Conditions That Nominally Define the Human Condition – International Journal of Philosophical Studies – article

Spinoza on the Conditions That Nominally Define the Human Condition

Daniel Schneider | International Journal of Philosophical Studies

2019-10-22

In ‘Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person,’ Harry Frankfurt argues that a successful analysis of the concept ‘human’ must reveal something that distinguishes humans from non-humans, as well as indicate something informative about ‘those attributes [of ourselves] which are the subject of our most humane concern.’ In this paper, I present an analysis of Spinoza’s concept of ‘human’ as it is employed within his Ethics. I show that Spinoza’s concept of ‘human’ satisfies Frankfurt’s desiderata because I show that Spinoza’s concept of ‘human’ is, at core, a version of Frankfurt’s own. I argue that Spinoza’s account of human bondage and human freedom indicate that Spinoza sees humans as beings that possess higher-order volitions, and that comments Spinoza makes throughout his corpus shows that he views beings that lack higher order desires to be, in an important sense, non-human. The analysis here sheds light upon the community of entities that Spinoza’s Ethics is written for, as well as upon issues concerning the nature of Spinoza’s Free Man.

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