Conspiracy theories as superstition: Today’s mirror image in spinoza’s tractatus theologico-politicus

J (Jamie) van der Klaauw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The contention in this paper is that the theological-political disputes Spinoza was con-cerned with 350 years ago are similar to the conspiratorial disputes we experience today. The world in Spinoza’s Tractatus theologico-politicus, a political intervention in his time, serves as a “mir-ror image”, that is to say, it deals with the same problem we face today albeit in a different mode. Understanding our contemporary condition under the auspices of a Spinozist perspective, problems in countermeasures to the conspiratorial disputes come to light. Scholarly work and practice focus on the epistemological dimension of conspiracy theories, tying in the extent to which they are problematic to the degree in which they deal in untruth. However, the lesson from Spinoza’s analysis of the theological-political disputes is that such theories do not deal in truth, but, in affect, they do not spring from a lack of education but a lack of certainty. The work of Spinoza opens up a different approach, and if our aim is like that of the TTP, to defend political life against the threat of civil war, such a different approach is in order.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021

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