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The unity of metaphysics and ethics in Spinoza

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posted on 28.03.2022, 10:48 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.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. The key elements of Spinoza’s metaphysics -- Chapter 2. Ethical outcomes of Spinoza’s metaphysics -- Chapter 3. Spinoza and contemporary approaches to ethics -- Conclusion -- Bibliography.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 56-58

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Nicholas mith


Copyright Simon Buterin 2017. Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright




1 online resource (vi, 58 pages)

Former Identifiers

mq:70128 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1260529