Tractatus Politicus

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The title page of the Tractatus politicus in the Opera Posthuma.

Tractatus politicus (TP) or Political Treatise is a political paper by Baruch Spinoza written in 1675–76 and published posthumously in 1677. This paper has the subtitle, "In quo demonstratur, quomodo Societas, ubi Imperium Monarchicum locum habet, sicut et ea, ubi Optimi imperant, debet institui, ne in Tyrannidem labatur, et ut Pax, Libertasque civium inviolata maneat." ("In which how a society, may be monarchy or oligarchy, can be best government, and not to fall into tyranny, and peace and liberty of citizen must not violated is demonstrated").


The Political Treatise has eleven Chapters: I. Introduction, II. Of Natural law (referring to his Theologico-Political Treatise), III. Of the Right of Supreme Authorities, IV. Of the Function of Supreme Authorities, V. Of best State of Dominion, VI. to VII. Of Monarchy, VIII. to X. Of Aristocracy, XI. Of Democracy.

As in Aristotle's Politics, Spinoza analyzes each form of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy without affirming which of these is the best. Unlike Aristotle, Spinoza argued on democracy at the last Chapter not as "rule of majority", but freedom for all by the natural law. Although he affirms that women are not equal to men in ability, and addresses the danger of Amazons, he suggests the commonwealth could possibly be governed by both sexes.

This paper characterises the notion of peace in Chapter V, section 4; affirming that "Peace is not mere absence of war, but is a virtue that springs from force of character." In the same Chapter, section 7 Niccolò Machiavelli is referred to, stating the prince "should establish and maintain dominion but with what design can hardly be sure".

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