Spinoza's Philosophy

Course summary

Spinoza's Philosophy


Benedict de Spinoza (1632—1677) is a major philosopher of the 17th century. Following Descartes, Spinoza developed original views about God, the universe, the human mind, and its relationship to the body and the world. Following Hobbes, he developed important views about political organization and the formation of democracy. Spinoza took geometry as a model for philosophy, and contributed significantly to almost every aspect of philosophy. The Ethics, Spinoza’s best-known book, identifies God with Nature. Nature constitutes an infinite, necessary and fully determinist system of which humans are part. From such ideas Spinoza developed an ethical system in which humans find happiness through their rational understanding of the system of which they are part, and of their place within it. Come and learn about this important philosopher, in the company of others with similar interests. There will be plenty of opportunity to question the speakers.

Programme details


2.45pm Course Registration

3.00pm Spinoza on perceiving the world passionately

4.30pm Tea / coffee

5.00pm Spinoza’s Universe

6.30pm Break / bar open

7.00pm Dinner

8.15pm- Spinoza on Political Co-operation

SUNDAY 14 MAY 2017

8.15am Breakfast (residents only)

9.30am Spinoza on mind and body

10.45am Coffee / tea

11.15am Q & A
Questions directed by MARIANNE TALBOT

12.30pm Break / bar open

1.00pm Lunch

2.00pm Course disperses

Recommended reading

Benedict de Spinoza, A Spinoza Reader: the Ethics and other works, trans. Edwin Curley, Princeton University Press, 1988.
Beth Lord, Spinoza’s Ethics: an Edinburgh Philosophical Guide, Edinburgh University Press, 2011 (a page-by-page guide for beginners to be read alongside the Ethics)

Susan James, Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion and Politics:  The Theologico-Political Treatise, (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Roger Scruton, Spinoza: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2002.
Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, City Lights, 1988.

Website: Steven Nadler’s entry on Spinoza in Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/


Accommodation for this weekend is at Rewley House for Saturday night only.
Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay, please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.
All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.
Unfortunately it is not yet possible to book twin room accommodation online, so if you wish to book a twin room, please send in your completed enrolment form or contact the Day & Weekend Events Office, Email: ppdayweek@conted.ox.ac.uk; Telephone: + 44 (0) 1865 270380 / 270368.


includes coffee/tea: £76.50
Single B&B Saturday: £72.60
Single Room Only Saturday: £62.00
Twin B&B Saturday (per person): £52.10


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Ms Marianne Talbot

Director of Studies

Marianne Talbot B.A., B.Phil., has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education since 2001. She has written several of Oxford’s popular short online courses on Philosophy, and her podcasts (notably on critical reasoning) have been downloaded over 5 million times. Marianne specialises in logic, ethics and the philosophy of mind. The topic of knowledge is her particular current interest.  


Professor Susan James


Susan James is a Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College London and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Humanities, Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on intersections between early modern philosophy, feminist philosophy and political philosophy. Among her books are Passion and Action: The Emotions in Early Modern Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1997); Spinoza on Philosophy, Religion and Politics: The Theologico-Political Treatise (Oxford University Press, 2012); and a forthcoming collection of essays, Spinoza on Learning to Live Together.

Dr Beth Lord


Beth Lord is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen, where she teaches and researches history of philosophy. Her written work includes an introductory guide to Spinoza’s Ethics and a monograph on Kant’s response to Spinozist philosophers. She has discussed Spinoza on Canadian and Australian radio and given several public talks. She explains Spinoza’s concept of equality and its relevance to the contemporary housing crisis in the short film Equal by Design, which she also co-produced. She is currently working on a book on Spinoza and equality, taking in his views on geometry, mind and body, social relations and politics.