Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  43 / 298 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 43 / 298 Next Page
Page Background

Vico’s Ring


be studied as a work that compels by its logic but impresses by

its composition and organization like a well thought out and co-

gently presented treatise on geometry.

Another “school of thought” in Spinoza commentary, not

necessarily unrelated to the above, is that


, similar to other

Spinoza works, has a didactic, pedagogic aim


. As in the case of

the previously described reaction, this view, too, is based on con-

siderable evidence. The main reason, however, is the fact that

another Spinoza book,

Principles of Descartes’ Philosophy

, is written

in the axiomatic style and intended for an educational setting:

The close form of propositions and demonstrations served not the

purpose of establishing the truth of the conclusions but was intended

for the pupil whom he was instructing. In short, Spinoza put Des-



in geometrical form because he believed that this was

the form best adapted to educational requirements



In view of the undeniable difficulties and challenges of argu-

ing a rigid axiomatic/deductive methodology in


, the alter-

native view, that


is merely as practical and pragmatic as

Descartes’ Philosophy

, is by no means unattractive or unfounded.

Both these ways of responding to


have in common that

its axiomatic/geometric style is considered


to its content,

a «scaffolding […] external to the completed structure»


. Ac-

cording to these views,


simply conforms to a prestigious

literary genre. This begs the question whether, alternatively, the

geometric order/method (and not just as well-organized materi-

al) possibly is


to the work. An indication of this being the

case, or at least being suggestive of it, can be found in Spinoza’s

own words: «I shall consider human actions and desires in exact-

ly the same manner, as though I were concerned with lines,

planes, and solids»



We need to reflect, therefore, however briefly, on what it is in

the geometric method that would have such a strong appeal to

this great thinker. As was already pointed out, it would be more