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When I was in college, around 1984, Jonathan Bennett was famous as an important critic.

At this point, I find myself a bit confused. I feel that I am very clear on Spinoza's arguments but I am having trouble putting my finger on the assumptions which are made that bother me. For example, his approach of seeing existence as consisting of two parallel attributes of mind and extension, seems like a panpsychic view of consciousness so that God is a conscious being.

Yet, God, from Spinoza's perspective, can see no evil (since evil only exists as inadequate ideas which God does not have) and has no concept of choice but yet is the only truly free being. How can one be "active" and "free" if one does not have a "choice"?

I am thinking that if I can find a wise critic who truly understands Spinoza that will be a great next read.

Is Bennett still read as an important criticism of Spinoza? Are there other critics now who are often recommended?

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  • I found that Bennett wrote an update in 2000. I am starting with this book and also the book by Nadler from 2006. Commented May 22, 2022 at 3:58
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    Jakob Thomasius was the first known professional philosopher author of published attack on Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise... As for your "God is a conscious being" perhaps Spinoza would vehemently oppose, this can be "resolved" in the same way as your expressed puzzle above following Nicholas of Cusa's philosophical writings, where he identified the absolute minimum with the absolute maximum... Commented May 23, 2022 at 2:42

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