Kees Schuyt

Spinoza en de vreugde van het inzicht

Spinoza’s relevance as a rigorous philosopher of freedom

Spinoza (1632-1677) is much read but little understood. A Dutch-Jewish philosopher, he is the subject of a rich literature of interpretations, most of them as difficult to follow as the great thinker himself. In this book, Kees Schuyt, sociologist, legal expert, but above all teacher, guides the reader through Spinoza’s work

Schuyt has spent almost half his life studying what Spinoza wrote and explaining it to groups of students. The results of his lifelong fascination are reflected in Spinoza and the Joy of Insight, in which he describes how Spinoza’s thinking developed, from his earliest work to his masterpiece, Ethics.

Kees Schuyt has not simply presented us with yet another introduction to Spinoza’s thought. He reports on his own personal search over twenty-five years to grasp the often difficult subjects Spinoza addresses. Taking well-chosen quotes as his starting point, he systematically explains and unravels a number of essential elements of Spinoza’s philosophy.

Is there in fact an urge to exist, Spinoza’s conatus, that makes people go on living in even the most bitter of circumstances? Are knowledge and insight gradual in nature? What is the relationship between freedom and determinism? Did Spinoza really believe that ‘evil does not exist’?

Along the way, Schuyt is prepared to criticize some of Spinoza’s ideas as well as those of his current admirers. He also underlines Spinoza’s relevance as a rigorous philosopher of freedom.

Schuyt ends by appealing to us, in these turbulent political times, to use Spinoza’s philosophy to help us in gaining a greater understanding of the world and our own lives. Spinoza’s thought is always relevant to anyone interested in issues such as the purpose of the state, security, prosperity, peace, liberty, personal freedom and moral responsibility.

In Spinoza and the Joy of Insight, Schuyt gives a personal summary of Spinoza’s insights and at the same time stresses the ways in which those insights still have relevance today. […] Schuyt’s “journey” through the work of Spinoza, as he calls it himself, is a classic and successful personal attempt to gain a grip on a still influential thinker, with all the joy it brings to him and his readers.

Vrij Nederland

This introduction, as readable as it is intense, is something special. Schuyt goes through the entirety of Spinoza’s recondite work chronologically, without simplifying it and without agreeing with everything.


Kees Schuyt

Kees Schuyt (b. 1943) is one of the most influential sociologists in the Netherlands. He studied sociology and Dutch law in Leiden, Oslo and Berkeley before becoming a professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. From 2005 to 2013 he was a member of the Council of State.

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Spinoza en de vreugde van het inzicht (2017). Non-fictie, 333 pagina's.

Thema's: filosofie



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