Why Spinoza still matters

Steven Nadler writes in Aeon that “At a time of religious zealotry, Spinoza’s fearless defence of intellectual freedom is more timely than ever.” This fundamental liberal value is of course foreign to the regressive left.

In his distress over the deteriorating political situation in the Dutch Republic, and despite the personal dantheoger he faced, Spinoza did not hesitate to boldly defend the radical Enlightenment values that he, along with many of his compatriots, held dear.

Spinoza is one of history’s most eloquent advocates for freedom and toleration.

All opinions whatsoever, including religious opinions, are to be absolutely free and unimpeded, both by necessity and by right.

No matter what laws are enacted against speech and other means of expression, citizens will continue to say what they believe, only now they will do so in secret.

Spinoza understands that there will be some unpleasant consequences entailed by the broad respect for civil liberties. There will be public disputes, even factionalism, as citizens express their opposing views on political, social, moral and religious questions. However, this is what comes with a healthy, democratic and tolerant society.