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Spinoza on Prophecy and Prophets (TTP, chapters 1-2)

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Presentation on theme: "Spinoza on Prophecy and Prophets (TTP, chapters 1-2)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Spinoza on Prophecy and Prophets (TTP, chapters 1-2)

2 Spinoza’s Definition of “Prophecy” and “Prophet” “Prophecy, or revelation, is the sure knowledge of some matter revealed by God to man. A prophet is one who interprets God’s revelations to those who cannot attain to certain knowledge of the matters revealed, and can therefore be convinced of them only by simple faith” (p. 9).

3 Prophetic Knowledge vs. Natural Knowledge Prophetic knowledge is not superior to natural knowledge but differs only in the kind of certainty involved (pp. 9-10).

4 The Epistemological Status of Prophecy The prophets “perceived God’s revelations with the aid of the imaginative faculty alone, that is, through the medium of words or images, either real or imaginary” (p. 19). Spinoza calls this knowledge “through a sign” (pp ).

5 Spinoza’s Four Conclusions about Prophetic Knowledge Prophets “have perceived much that is beyond the limits of intellect” (p. 20). Prophets taught in parables and allegories (p. 20). Prophecy was not common but “very rare, manifesting itself in very few men, and infrequently even in them” (p. 20). The prophets’ certainty “was not a mathematical certainty, but only a moral certainty” (p. 22).

6 Variations among Individual Prophets Spinoza argues that each prophet had a different style, form, and degree of clarity; the nature of the prophecy depended on a prophet’s particular “temperament” (p. 23).


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