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The unity of metaphysics and ethics in Spinoza
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 10:48 authored by Simon Buterin
This thesis will give an exposition of Spinoza’s key metaphysical and ethical doctrines, with a view to clarifying their underlying unity. The importance of the unity for ethics is to support the case for a conception of ethical life that goes beyond a focus on the individual ethical subject, towards a view of ethical life that includes our strivings to understand the world around us. It is shown that Spinoza belongs to a tradition of philosophical thought in which ideas of a good life are inextricably bound up with the comprehension of the essential nature of our surroundings. To live ethically is to have one’s thoughts move away from the idea of a self in an endeavour to see how one is related to the environment one lives in. In developing this conception of the unity of metaphysics and ethics, Spinoza, like other philosophers in this tradition, draws on ideas of truth and perfection, which become the motivating force behind human action. In the final chapter of the thesis links are made between Spinoza’s attempt at unifying metaphysics and ethics and Iris Murdoch’s approach to ethics, and the project of unifying metaphysics and ethics is defended against approaches that are based on the separation of these branches of philosophy, such as that proposed by Christine Korsgaard.