This book begins with the most basic contrast between Maimonides's and Spinoza's views on human nature—either passions should be traced to a single source, according to Spinoza, or they are irreducible to fewer than two sources, according to Maimonides. Later chapters discuss the discovery of a single source for the passions; if true, it would fit together neatly with Spinoza's effort to unify the parts of philosophy or science. This unification is part and parcel of Spinoza's determinism about human nature. In contrast, Maimonides's view preserves the distinctiveness of a key principle of human nature, choice. The book then turns to the most obvious divergence between Spinoza and Maimonides—evidenced by Spinoza's open attack on Maimonides in the Theologico-Political Treatise for promoting the veneration of religious authorities such as himself.
Keywords: human nature, maimonides, spinoza, passions, determinism