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Secular PowersHumility in Modern Political Thought$
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Julie E. Cooper

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226081298

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226081328.001.0001

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Spinoza on the Joys of Finitude

(p.70) Chapter 3 Humility
Secular Powers

Julie E. Cooper

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines Spinoza’s declaration that “humility is not a virtue.” Contrary to the claims of the seventeenth-century anti-Spinoza polemic, this declaration does not rehabilitate pride. Indeed, Spinoza is a fierce critic of pride, as demonstrated by his analysis of the affect opposed to humility, acquiescentia in se ipso. As a critic of humility, Spinoza recasts finitude’s emotional valence, making finitude a source of strength, rather than an occasion for self-reproach. As Spinoza demonstrates, reservations about humility need not express delusions of omnipotence. Spinoza is not persuasively cast as a modernist revolutionary, or as a partisan of robust self-esteem.

Keywords:   Baruch Spinoza, Humility, Anti-Spinoza polemic, Affect, virtue, Acquiescentia in se ipso, Finitude, Self-esteem

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