Spinoza on Constitutional Interpretation

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This paper projects Spinoza’s discussion of the method of scriptural interpretation onto contemporary questions of Constitutional interpretation. Spinoza’s discussion lets us deliberate about the relations between the authority of texts and the authority of readers and interpreters, and the compatibility of institutional structures of interpretation which require obedience with the freedom of thought necessary for salvation and for individual self-determination. Focusing on interpretation clarifies the relation between religion and politics, a relation which allows each individual to interpret the Bible for him or herself, while politically all must defer to the ruler’s interpretation of justice.


DOI: 10.1177/1743872109358517