Günter Zöller, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

“In Truth the Purpose of the State Is Freedom.”
Spinoza on the Political Character of the Relationship between Religion and Philosophy

The talk addresses the relationship between religion and philosophy by taking recourse to their tertium comparationis, viz., the political. The basic text of reference for the proposed political reading of religion and philosophy is Spinoza’s revolutionary and scandalous late work, Tractatus theologico-politicus (Amsterdam 1670). Against the background of contemporary religious dissent and disputes Spinoza maintains the political character of religion, the original difference between philosophy and religion and the essential role of both philosophy and religion for political life. In contrast to earlier and later attempts at determining the relationship between religion and philosophy as one of conflict, compatibility or competition, Spinoza stresses the radical heterogeneity of faith and knowledge and the specifically different functions of religion and of philosophy for the maintenance of the commonwealth. Spinoza’s ingenious linkage of an Enlightenment critique of religion and a philosophical-political defense of religion is discussed with an eye toward its analytic potential for dealing, in theory as well as in practice, with political, religious and philosophical cultures in the current age of a global exchange of material and immaterial goods.

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