Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Michael J. Wreen

Second Advisor

Lee C. Rice

Third Advisor

Timothy Crockett, William Star

Abstract

This dissertation examines Spinoza's position regarding the relationship of the individual to the community and to other individuals in the context of a particular reading of Spinoza's metaphysics as holistic. By the term "holistic metaphysics," I refer to a view of reality as a unified whole rather than as a collection of entirely separate parts. The latter I call a "reductionistic metaphysics." If a reductionistic metaphysics tends to see individuals as essentially separate and only secondarily relational, a holistic metaphysics pictures individuals as primarily relational and only by means of their relations capable of any meaningful "separateness" from other individuals. The reading advanced here concludes that Spinoza holds that individuals cannot ultimately be separated from the larger environment and network of relationships of which they are always a part. This dissertation concludes with brief set of reflections on the potential implications of this "relational" understanding of individuals in the realms of morals and politics. How Spinoza might view the issue of "universal health care" in the context of his holistic metaphysics is singled out for specific consideration.

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