Volume 31, Issue 2, 2021
Do We Need a New Enlightenment for the Twenty-First Century?
Philosophy and Theological Rationalism
Spinoza and Hobbes
The paper aims to circumscribe, through a specific history of ideas approach, the relevance of Benedict Spinoza’s theological rationalism to the major debate which generated the Early Enlightenment, the radical conception on the new status of philosophy in relation to theology, on libertas philosophandi and rational philosophizing. The main lines of Spinoza’s theological rationalism are sustained as being inspired and encouraged by Hobbes’ “negative theology,” the only theology considered consonant with the “true philosophy.” The paper also indicates the originality of Spinoza’s theological criticism and the reasons under which Hobbes—despite the radicalism of his biblical interpretation and of his thesis of separating the philosophy (natural science) from theology—Hobbes enjoyed an attenuated critical reception compared to that one applied to Spinoza and the “acute” tone of which was set by Leibniz.