Essay on Spinoza’s Ethics

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1,000-1,300 words

Spinoza suggests that 1p7 follows directly from 1p6c. It is natural, however, to feel that
there is a gap between what is claimed in 1p6c and what is claimed in 1p7. Explain why
someone might think there is a problem here. Provide a fuller argument, on Spinoza’s
behalf, for getting from 1p6c to 1p7. (Here you might find it helpful to look at 1p11 and
its various demonstrations and its scholium.) Critically evaluate the argument you
provide on Spinoza’s behalf.

“General instructions. Whichever topic you choose, you should divide your paper into two parts, and label them “Part A” and “Part B.”

Part A should be your explanation of the text. It will be evaluated on how well you explain Spinoza’s position in an intuitive way (concrete illustrations often help). Close paraphrases are safe but often don’t make clear what is going on. To do well on this part, you must ground your interpretation in the text, but you should also take us beyond the text, explaining its main idea, pointing out possible ambiguities and difficulties, etc. The text is difficult, and it is sometimes not clear exactly what Spinoza’s argument is. You should do your best to make clear what you think the argument is and why.

In Part B you should critically analyze what Spinoza is saying. How compelling is his argument? Is the argument unsatisfying in some way? Why? How might someone argue against his position? Are there other reasonable views of the matter that someone might adopt?

Give equal attention (not necessarily equal space) to both parts. To do well on the paper, you will need to have both a good, clear explanation of what Spinoza is saying and an original, interesting analysis of his discussion.”

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