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Dimitris Vardoulakis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816672806

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816672806.001.0001

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Prophecy without Prophets: Spinoza and Maimonides on Law and the Democracy of Knowledge

Prophecy without Prophets: Spinoza and Maimonides on Law and the Democracy of Knowledge

Chapter:
(p.135) 6 Prophecy without Prophets: Spinoza and Maimonides on Law and the Democracy of Knowledge
Source:
Spinoza Now
Author(s):

Arthur J. Jacobson

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816672806.003.0006

This chapter focuses on Theologico-Political Treatise to examine the status of prophets. For Spinoza, there are no miracles, and in this sense prophesy is part of natural knowledge, its distinctive characteristic being that it helps in the formation of community. Spinoza denies that the propagators of natural knowledge are prophets. Arthur Jacobson further complicates this standard account of Spinoza’s prophets by pointing out a paradox, namely, that if prophesy is natural knowledge, then everyone, in principle, can be a prophet. The effect of this structure in Spinoza is that knowledge, then, is shareable by everyone—there is a democracy of knowledge. The chapter also explores the comparable tension in Maimonides’s writings on the laws of prophecy.

Keywords:   Theologico-Political Treatise, prophets, Spinoza, miracles, prophesy, natural knowledge, Maimonides

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