Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die
Steven Nadler in conversation with Alex Douglas
“The free person thinks least of all of death, and his wisdom is a meditation not on death but on life.” Spinoza
The seventeenth-century philosopher Spinoza has long been known for his “heretical” view of God and for the radical determinism he sees governing the cosmos and human freedom. Only recently, however, has he begun to be considered in a serious way as a moral philosopher. In his philosophical masterpiece, the Ethics, after establishing some metaphysical and epistemological foundations, he turns to the “big questions” that so often move one to reflect on, and even change, the values that inform one’s life: What is truly good? What is happiness? What is the relationship between being a good or virtuous person and enjoying happiness and human flourishing? In this conversation with fellow Spinoza scholar Alexander Douglas, Pulitzer Prize-finalist Steven Nadler connects Spinoza’s ideas with his life and times to offer a compelling account of how the philosopher can provide a guide to living one’s best life (and death).
Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy and Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. One of the world’s leading Spinoza scholars, his new book Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die is published in September.
Alexander Douglas is a lecturer in the School of Philosophical, Anthropological, and Film Studies at the University of St Andrews. He studies early modern rationalism, particularly various forms of Cartesianism and especially that of Spinoza. He is also interested in critiques of political economy and is the author of The Philosophy of Debt. axdouglas.com & @alexxdouglas