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Spinoza and the Galilean Heritage

“Galileo and Spinoza”, ed. Filip Buyse, Intellectual History Review, Volume 23, Issue 1 (March 2013), ISSN: 1749-6977 (Print), 1749-6985 (Online), 157 pp.



As suggested by its title, the volume Galileo and Spinoza, special Issue of Intellectual History Review (23/1, March 2013), is entirely devoted to investigating possible points of contact between Galileo’s and Spinoza’s respective views on physics, metaphysics, and biblical exegesis. It includes nine articles, preceded by a short introduction by the guest editor, Filip Buyse. The editorial project clearly relies on the conviction that, despite never mentioning Galileo by name in his texts or letters, Spinoza must have been acquainted with the works and theories of the Italian scientist. Consequently, the main question addressed by the various contributors is the extent to which Galileo may have directly or indirectly influenced Spinoza’s intellectual development. In the first article, “Galileo and Spinoza: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives” (pp. 3-23), Franco Biasutti depicts a common historical and intellectual background. He observes that “in the course of his existence, Spinoza always lived in places where the figure of Galileo had left deep and presumably lasting traces, and where access to his works should not have been difficult” (p. 6). Even though this consideration is not sufficient to conclude that Spinoza directly studied Galileo’s works, it makes it plausible that Spinoza had some knowledge of Galileo’s theories.

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