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Intuition beyond the law of the state


Stephen Connelly


This article examines one aspect of the possible influence of Aristotle on Spinoza's thinking of state laws and their limitations.  In the Nicomachean Ethics, the Stagirite sets out a theory of the just city based on appropriate geometrical proportioning of justice, but then proposes the hypothesis of the most excellent man: someone so virtuous that they cannot be bound by the city's laws and so must be banished or elevated to monarch.  The article investigates how Spinoza's own conceptions of geometry and metaphysics inform his view of justice and laws in the city.  It indicates how, in continuing to posit the virtuous as someone both with a higher form of cognition of law, but who must nevertheless live in the city, Spinoza is likely to have been confronted with Aristotle's 'problem of excellence'.  The article examines Spinoza's initial and strikingly modern solution to the problem, but also indicates how Spinoza's own thinking on metaphysics and genetic geometry pushes him beyond this 'answer' in his later political work.
How to Cite: Connelly, S., 2011. Intuition beyond the law of the state. Utrecht Law Review, 7(2), pp.29–41. DOI:
Published on 14 Apr 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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