Tractatus Politicus

Tractatus politicus (TP) or Political Treatise was the last treatise written by Baruch Spinoza. It was 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 it is demonstrated how a society, may it be a monarchy or an aristocracy, can be best governed, and not fall into tyranny, and how the peace and liberty of the citizens must not be violated").

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


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 in the last chapter that democracy is not "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.

The treatise also 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 that the prince "should establish and maintain dominion but with what design we can hardly be sure".

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