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Spinoza on ingenium and exemplarity : Some consequences for educational theory

  • Dahlbeck, Johan
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11217-020-09730-z
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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This article turns to the neglected pedagogical concept of ingenium in order to address some shortcomings of the admiration-emulation model of Linda Zabzebski’s influential exemplarist moral theory. I will start by introducing the problem of the admiration-emulation model by way of a fictional example. I will then briefly outline the concept of ingenium such as it appears in a Renaissance context, looking particularly at the pedagogical writings of Juan Luis Vives (1492/3–1540). This will set the stage for the next part, look- ing at how early modern philosopher Benedict Spinoza (1632–1677) adopts a Vivesian notion of ingenium, adjusting it so as to fit into the setting of his political theory. Next, I will turn to Spinoza’s use of the concept of ingenium in relation to his portrayal of exemplary persons, offering a pedagogical model of moral exemplarism that can counter same of the perceived problems of the admiration-emulation model as it highlights the necessary fallibility of efficient exemplars as well as acknowledges the socio-political dimension of emotions. Finally, I will lay out some preliminary consequences for educational theory, hoping to offer a way of reconciling moral exemplarism with a more realistic pedagogical and psychological framework.

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