Justin Steinberg & Valtteri Viljanen

Cambridge: Polity Press, 2021

Benedict de Spinoza is one of the most controversial and enigmatic thinkers in the history of philosophy. His greatest work, Ethics (1677), developed a comprehensive philosophical system and argued that God and Nature are identical. His scandalous Theological-Political Treatise (1670) provoked outrage during his lifetime due to its biblical criticism, anticlericalism, and defense of the freedom to philosophize. Together, these works earned Spinoza a reputation as a singularly radical thinker.

In this book, Steinberg and Viljanen offer a concise and up-to-date account of Spinoza’s thought and its philosophical legacy. They explore the full range of Spinoza’s ideas, from politics and theology to ontology and epistemology. Drawing broadly on Spinoza’s impressive oeuvre, they have crafted a lucid introduction for readers unfamiliar with this important philosopher, as well as a nuanced and enlightening study for more experienced readers.

Accessible and compelling, Spinoza is the go-to text for anyone seeking to understand the thought of one of history’s most fascinating thinkers.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Spinoza’s life



“I never recommended a book about Spinoza until now. Steinberg and Viljanen’s Spinoza neatly presents this grand thinkers abominable and monstrous metaphysical philosophy, cleanly tying it to his ethics and political theory. Excellent for professionals and amateurs alike.”
Steven Barbone, San Diego State University

“In its comprehensiveness, Steinberg and Viljanen’s book rivals the great encyclopedic studies of the nineteenth century, while drawing upon the latest historical discoveries and interpretative work. It is a comprehensive and readable introduction to the best current knowledge of Spinoza.”
Alexander Douglas, University of St Andrews

Review by Robin Friedman.