Steven Nadler

Position title: Resident Fellow (2010-2011)

Philosophy, UW-Madison

Portrait Image of Steven Nadler wearing a blue shirt and glasses with his hand on his chin in front of a bright window

“A Book Forged in Hell”: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise

Professor Nadler is completing a book on Spinoza’s THEOLOGICAL-POLITICAL TREATISE, the most radical and “scandalous” book of its time. Spinoza denied the divine authorship of the Bible, naturalized prophecy and miracles, reduced “true religion” to a basic moral principle, and argued for a broad doctrine of toleration of speech and “philosophizing”. This study will examine not only the philosophical themes and arguments of the work, but also the historical, religious and political contexts of its composition and of the extraordinary condemnations that soon followed its publication.

Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II/WARF Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has been teaching since 1988. He is also a faculty member of the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies (and a former holder of the Max and Frieda Weinstein/Bascom Professorship of Jewish Studies), and the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. A specialist in the history of early modern philosophy and in medieval and early modern Jewish philosophy, his books include Arnauld and the Cartesian Philosophy of Ideas (Princeton University Press, 1989), Malebranche and Ideas (Oxford University Press, 1992), Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge University Press, 1999, winner of the 2000 Koret Jewish Book Award for biography, and now translated into ten languages), Spinoza’s Heresy: Immortality and the Jewish Mind (Oxford University Press, 2002), Rembrandt’s Jews (University of Chicago Press, 2003, named a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction), Spinoza’s Ethics: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2006), The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God and Evil (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008; paperback, Princeton University Press, 2010), and Occasionalism: Causation Among the Cartesians (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). He is also the co-editor of the Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy: From Antiquity through the Seventeenth Century (2008), among other volumes. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, and the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales (Paris), and the holder of the Spinoza Chair at the University of Amsterdam.