A hypertext edition of works by Spinoza
in the original, Latin version

Editor’s preface

Ethica || Other works  ( TIE |  TP | Ep. ) || References || Other editions || Latin resources

This is my first major attempt to produce content for the Web. It was originally confined to the Ethica, and the first part of this preface is exclusively concerned with that work. Later, the Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione (TIE), the Tractatus Politicus (Tract. Pol. or TP) and a selection of the Epistolae (Ep.) were added, as well as a number of facilities helpful for studying the works in relation to each other, and to the various translations made available on the Web.


... omnia praeclara tam difficilia, quam rara sunt.
see this work, Ethica P. 5. prop. 42. schol.
... all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.
see Elwes translation, Part V. Prop. XLII. Note.

This project is a rather special one in that it attempts to reconcile two objectives:

As will be seen from the overview of electronic publications of the Ethica given below, there has – until the start of this project – not been any publication on the Web of the Latin text which provides hyperlinks for all internal references. (Note added in January 2009: When this was first written in May 2000 there was indeed no such publication. The effort known as SpinozaBase by Baptiste Mélès dates from 2007. Note added in March 2011: An additional effort known as Ethica DB by Julien Gaultier provides for in-line quotation of referenced elements rather than linking.)

For the content I have based myself on Bruder’s edition of 1843, a copy of which I own. I have also consulted Gebhardt’s edition of 1925 (reprinted 1973) as available to me in electronic form on the CD-ROM produced by Biblia, together with the Concordance produced by Cetedoc, the richly commented Dutch translation by Klever, and the “Logical Index” prepared by Fletcher. In comparing the various texts, I encountered a number of issues to be resolved. These are listed separately. My treatment of punctuation, abbreviations and spelling is explained in a technical annex.

For the appearance I have also based myself on Bruder’s edition. This aspect is largely a matter of taste and I offer no other justification than that I have become quite accustomed to Bruder’s sober typography, and have attempted to reproduce this as faithfully as possible. See the technical annex for further details of how to set your browser so as to preserve my intentions.

The links provided are all of my own making. Each and every first-level item of the text, i.e. Definitiones, Axiomata, Postulata, Propositiones (including their Corollaria and Scholia), and also Affectuum Definitiones and Capita Rectae Vivendi Rationis, has an anchor. In principle, any reference (even implicit, e.g. “per prop. praeced.”) to such an item occurring in the text is given a hyperlink. I have deliberately not provided anchors and hyperlinks for Demonstrationes, as they are in one to one correspondence with their Propositiones, and are rarely referred to.

The footnotes occurring in Bruder’s text have all been reproduced, except for the one in the preface to Part V. which gives a reference to the Latin edition of a work by Descartes (see also next paragraph). Some of these, marked Br. by me, are not found in Gebhardt’s edition and are presumed to be by Bruder. The other ones are marked Sp. and are by Spinoza himself. I have added one footnote myself, marked Me. for consistency, giving the source of a quotation that was not identified as such in the appendix to Part I (two more suspected quotations, immediately following that one, have not yet been identified). For ease of reading the footnotes have been placed immediately after the paragraph or element they occur in (after the Demonstratio if the footnote occurs in a Propositio).

Where the footnotes contain references to works by other authors (this includes the Bible), and these works have been published on the Web, I have provided the necessary links. For the Latin works, I have confined myself to the publications accessible from The Classics Page, and notably through the Library found at that site. Incidentally, they also have a Latin edition of the Ethica, which is a copy of that made by Gilles Louise. For Descartes’ Passions de l’âme (Passiones animae), since there is no Latin edition on the Web as yet, I have linked directly to the original French edition, put up by CGU, even though one must assume that Spinoza was quoting the Latin edition, as also suggested by Bruder’s footnote (which I have omitted). The CGU link is courtesy of Tammy Nyden-Bullock.

The Index I have constructed is first of all a Table of Contents, listing all first-level items in order of appearance in the work, each with their hyperlink and enough text to identify them (for the Scholia, I have partly used the “summaries” in Bruder’s Index, partly made up my own, and for the rest – but only when they are never referred to – omitted a summary altogether). The Index contains furthermore, for each of the listed items, a list of the places where they are referred to, as part of the reasoning or otherwise. This is the hypertext equivalent of Fletcher’s Logical Index. It is hoped that this may be of help in studying the work, not the least since it also contains a list of the places in the other works (TIE, TP, Ep., see below) where reference is made to the Ethica.

A simplified form of access to the subject matter of the Ethica is given by the Schematic index. For inspiration on this, I am indebted to both Terry Neff, who put up Wolfson’s Outline on his site, and to Henrique Diaz, who published his own Plan de l’Ethique. The actual schematisation is mine, however.

I have also produced a Glossarium which contains all expressions for which a definition is given (whether explicitly in the Definitiones, Affectuum Definitiones, or otherwise, e.g. in Scholia), as well as a selection of other expressions. Such expressions are often marked typographically in the text (see the technical annex). The Glossarium entry contains a link to the defining occurrence, if any, and to a few selected other occurrences. For the time being, the occurrences of usage have not been linked back to the Glossarium entry or the defining occurrence. This would in most cases have been tedious and not of much use. On the other hand, I have added to this Glossarium an index of Bible quotations, an index of proper names, and the systematical index of the emotions (Affectus) that I constructed in my essay on this topic. Comments on the usefulness of further hyperlinking are of course welcome.

Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione,
Tractatus Politicus, and selected Letters (Epistolae)

These parts of the project arose from my first one on Spinoza’s Ethica and use many of the techniques and approaches developed for that work. An overview of existing and planned electronic publications of the Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione (TIE), the Tractatus Politicus (TP), and the Epistolae (Ep.) is given below. The present publications of TIE and Epistolae seem to be the first ones in Latin.

As with the Ethica, the content is based on Bruder’s edition of 1843. In preparing the texts, I encountered a number of issues to be resolved. These are listed separately. My treatment of punctuation, abbreviations and spelling etc. is explained in the technical annex.

Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione

Finis in scientiis est unicus, ad quem omnes sunt dirigendae,
scilicet ut ad summam humanam perfectionem perveniatur.

from this work, TIE §. 16. and footnote 2)
There is for the sciences but one end, to which they should all be directed,
[viz.] that we may attain to the supreme human perfection.

see Elwes translation, TEI-P16b(7) and note [N1]

The numbering system requires some explanation. Bruder’s edition has 15 chapters (numbered I. to XV.) and 110 sections or paragraphs, numbered §. 1. to §. 110. The Gebhardt edition as available to me has no chapters and sections/paragraphs at all. The translation into English made by Elwes uses in part different chapter headings, and a different section numbering scheme, but the English versions published on the Web, although based on Elwes, also provide the section numbers found in Bruder. I have thus inserted Bruder’s chapter headings and section numbers in my edition, and provided anchors for all of them. In the matter of indentation of the sections, I have followed Bruder, who indents only some of the sections and keeps others in-line. Since references in the literature are mostly to sections, I have provided an Index, which is a not only a simple Table of Contents by chapter (as in Bruder) but also permits finding each of the sections under their respective chapter.

The footnotes found in the Bruder edition are of two kinds: those marked Sp., which are by Spinoza himself, and those not so marked which have been provided by Bruder; these contain references to other places in Spinoza’s works. I have kept both kinds, marking the second kind Br. for clarity and uniformity. As in my edition of the Ethica, the footnotes are placed as close as possible to the section they are in, without disturbing too much the grouping of the text into blocks. Since these blocks do not correspond to the pages of Bruder’s edition, the marking of the footnotes in my edition by *) for a single one, or 1) etc. for multiple ones in the same block, differs from that of Bruder who marks them per page.

Some Glossarium entries have been provided which refer to the text by section.

Comments on all aspects of the presentation are of course welcome.

Tractatus Politicus

... curavi, humanas actiones non ridere,
non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere

see this work, TP cap. 1. art. 4.
... I have laboured carefully, not to mock, lament,
or execrate, but to understand human actions

see Gossett translation, ed. Elwes CHAPTER I., 4.

The numbering style is that of Bruder: Roman numerals I. to XI. for the chapters (each with a title), and Arabic numbers for the sections or paragraphs (called Articuli by Spinoza in this work). In comparison: Gebhardt has Roman numerals preceded by the section sign (“§”) for the sections, and provides no titles for the chapters. I have used the chapter titles to construct a rudimentary Index. Bruder gives a short content for each of the sections in his own Index, but this I considered to be too voluminous to reproduce. At the beginning of the Index I have added a reference to the non-numbered letter (Ep. s. n.) which served as a Preface to the TP in the Opera Posthuma.

I have provided anchors for both chapters and sections, and used them in hyperlinking the internal references (of which there are quite a few).The footnotes are a selection of those provided by Bruder (marked Br. by me). I have kept the ones giving references to the Ethica and to works by other authors, added the hyperlinks where I could find them, and placed them directly after the relevant section, applying my own numbering scheme as for TIE (see above). Bruder also provides a number of footnotes giving (additional) internal references to sections of the Tract. Pol. These I have opted to insert in the text itself, marking them Br. also, to distinguish them from the internal references provided by Spinoza as part of the original text. One footnote has been added by myself, marked Me., which gives details on a contemporary, whom Spinoza indicates by his initials only (V. H., in TP cap. 8. art. 31. – the details have been taken from Gosset’s translation).

Some Glossarium entries have been provided which refer to the text by chapter and section.

Again, comments on all aspects of the presentation are of course welcome.

Selected letters (Epistolae)

The numbering of the Epistolae follows that of Bruder (different from that of Gebhardt, who however gives a table of correspondence). Only the following have been edited: 1.-4., 8., 15., 26.-29., 39.-42., 50., and 61.-72. Each of these deals (amongst others) with questions relevant to the Ethica and/or TIE resp. Tractatus Politicus. I have omitted those parts of the text which deal with other questions. On the other hand, I have added the (non-numbered) one which is found in the Praefatio to the Opera Posthuma (OP), and which is said by the Editor of the OP to serve as preface to the TP.

Bruder provides an Argumentum, or short content, in front of each letter. I have taken all of those over in their entirety, and also used them for the Index, but there the irrelevant parts are omitted and indicated by [ ... ]. The date of each letter given in the Index is taken from the signature where present (chosing the new calendar when, as in the first letter, the date is given according to both old and new calender); otherwise, it is the date surmised by Bruder from various sources. Bruder repeats this (explicit or surmised) date in the Argumentum. I have not done that, in order to keep the information in one place only. Four of the letters (39.-41. and 50.) have been edited in their Latin translation, as made from the Dutch original already at the time of their first publication. This is indicated by (Versio.) after their heading in the text. The name of the correspondent is not given by Bruder for Ep. 39.-41., 50., and 61.-72. I have added the names as given in Gebhardt’s edition, in the Index as well as in the text itself, in both cases enclosed in square brackets [ ]. Ep. 29. and 42. have their correspondent identified by initials; also in those cases I have added the name as given in Gebhardt’s edition. Bruder provides section numbers for each letter, in the same style as for TIE, again indenting only some of the sections and not others. I have followed this scheme faithfully, and provided anchors for each of them (even when they pertain to text omitted). Note that Gebhardt’s edition has no section numbers at all.

Of the footnotes provided by Bruder (not all of which are also found in Gebhardt) I have only kept those that refer to places in the Ethica or the Tractatus, and those marked Sp. by Bruder (see above). I have also needed to add some remarks of my own, marked Me. in the same style. As usual they are placed closest to the section to which they belong.

Letters 3. and 4. contain a discussion of some material from an early draft of the Ethica. Mention is made of certain axioms and propositions, which have received different numbers, and presumably different formulation, in the final text. I have provided footnotes of my own with hyperlinks to the actual axioms and propositions found in my own edition. Bruder’s footnote to Ep. 2. §. 6., which does not take this re-numbering into account, has been adjusted.

Some Glossarium entries have been provided which refer to the Epistolae by number and section.

As with the other works, comments on all aspects of the presentation are of course welcome.

Rudolf W. Meijer
(see bottom for contact details)


Original edition
B. D. S. OPERA POSTHUMA, Quorum series post Præfationem exhibetur.
[Amsterdam], [Rieuwertsz], 1677
(facsimile available, amongst others, from the
Wolfenbütteler Digitale Bibliothek of the Herzog August Bibliothek, Germany and the
Posner Memorial Collection of Carnegie Mellon University)
Benedicti de Spinoza Opera quae supersunt omnia
Ex editionibus principis denuo edidit et praefatus est Carolus Hermannus Bruder
Editio stereotypa
Lipsiae, ex officina Bernhardi Tauchnitz, 1843-1846 (Worldcat entry 4045864)
Ethica: Vol. I, pp. 149-416
TIE: Vol. II, pp. 1-42
Tract. Pol.: Vol. II, pp. 43-136
Epistolae: Vol. II, pp. 137-354
(facsimile in Google eBooks: Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III)
Spinoza, Opera
im Auftrag der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften hrsg. von Carl Gebhardt
Heidelberg, Winter, 1925 (last reprint 1987), ISBN 978-3-8253-3447-5
Ethica: Vol. II, pp. 45-308
TIE: Vol. II, pp. 3-40
Tract. Pol.: Vol. III, pp. 270-360
Epistolae: Vol. IV, pp. 3-337
The chief works of Benedict de Spinoza
Translated from the Latin, with an introduction by R.H.M. Elwes
Vol. I. Introduction, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Tractatus Politicus.
(note that the translation of TP was made by Gosset)
Vol. II. De Intellectus Emendatione–Ethica. (Select Letters)
London, G. Bell & Sons, 1883, republished in:
Benedict de Spinoza
A Theologico-Political Treatise, A Political Treatise, and Elwes’ Introduction

New York, Dover Publications, 2004, ISBN 978-0-486-43722-4
(facsimile available of the revised edition of 1887) and
Benedict de Spinoza
On the Improvement of the Understanding, The Ethics, Correspondence

New York, Dover Publications, 1955, ISBN 978-0-486-20250-1
(facsimile available of the revised edition of 1901)
Benedict de Spinoza’s Political Treatise
Translated by A. H. Gosset
published in Elwes
Oeuvres de Spinoza
Traduites par Emile Saisset. Avec Introduction du Traducteur
Paris, Charpentier, 1842 (Worldcat entry 3735411)
(facsimile in Google eBooks:
Première série: Introduction. Vie de Spinoza. Théologie de Spinoza.
Seconde série: Ethique; Réforme de l’entendement; Correspondance)
Œvres de Spinoza
Editées en quatre tomes, présentation, traduction et notes par Charles Appuhn
Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, 1964 (Worldcat entry 20790697)
Spinoza B. The Ethics
Transl. from the lat. by N.A. Ivantsov, Ed. by V.P. Preobrazhensky
Moscow, 1892 (The Works of the Moscow Psychological Society Vol. 5)
(republished) Sankt-Peterburg, 1993, ISBN 5 85962 044 6
Spinoza B. On the Improvement of Understanding
Transl. from the lat. and introd. by V.N. Polovtsova
Moscow, 1914 (The Works of the Moscow Psychological Society Vol. 8)
Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Politicus
Testo e traduzione a cura di Paolo Cristofolini
Pisa, Edizioni ETS, 1999
Vivere da umani
L’Ethica ordine geometrica demonstrata tradotta in lingua corrente da Renato Peri
Bologna, Aedes spinozana, 2001
van Suchtelen
Benedictus de Spinoza, Ethica
Vertaald, ingeleid en toegelicht door Jhr. Dr. Nico van Suchtelen
Amsterdam, Wereldbibliotheek, 1915
Zedekunde van Benedictus de Spinoza
vertaald door D: Burger.
W. Meijer
Benedictus de Spinoza. Staatkundig vertoog (..).
Uit het Latijn door W. Meijer. Amsterdam, Van Looy, 1901.
(facsimile available at DBNL)
Spinoza, Benedictus de: Die Ethik - Lateinisch/Deutsch
Rev. Übers.: Stern, Jakob. Stuttgart, Reclam Verlag, ISBN 978-3-15-000851-5
Baruch de Espinosa, ÉTICA demostrada según el orden geométrico
Introducción, traducción y notas de Vidal Peña
Barcelona, Ediciones Orbis, 1984
M. Guéret, A. Robinet, P. Tombeur
Spinoza, Ethica, Concordances, Index, Listes de fréquences, Tables comparatives
Louvain-la-Neuve, Cetedoc, 1977
since 2001, activity moved to: Centre « Traditio Litterarum Occidentalium » (CTLO)
W. N. A. Klever
Ethicom, Spinoza’s Ethica vertolkt in tekst en commentaar
Delft, Eburon, 2006, ISBN 978-90-5166-526-0
H.A. Wolfson
The Philosophy of Spinoza: Unfolding the Latent Processes of His Reasoning
Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1934, reprinted 1983, ISBN 978-0-674-66595-8
Lancelot R. Fletcher
Spinoza’s Ethics: An Index of Implication
avilable at http://frank.mtsu.edu/~rbombard/RB/Spinoza/ethica

Other electronic publications of the Ethica, TIE, Tractatus Politicus and Epistolae

NB. The presence of a Y in the column Hyperlinks indicates that the internal references are hyperlinked. All texts are in HTML format unless otherwise noted in that same column.

Publisher (e-mail) Start page (Web address) Works covered Language Hyperlinks
Phronésis sarl CD-ROM announcement:
Reading the Ethics of Spinoza
Eth. Latin/
Saisset and others
Biblia CD-ROM announcement:
Philosophica n. 2
Eth./TIE/TP/Ep. Latin N
(Folio Views)
Gilles Louise ETHICA (no longer available) Eth. Latin N Louise
Idea Publishing House Metinler (i.e. Texts) Eth./TIE(plan.) Latin N Gebhardt
Ulrich Harsch bibliotheca Augustana Eth. Latin N Gebhardt
Baptiste Mélès SpinozaBase Eth. Latin Y Louise
Juilen Gautier Ethica DB Eth.

Y Louise
van Suchtelen
Vicifons Scriptor: Benedictus de Spinoza Eth./TIE/TP Latin N Gebhardt (?)
    Ep.(sel.) Latin N this publication (!)
Giovanni Croce Foglio Spinozi@no TP Latin N
Ron Bombardi Studia Spinoziana Eth. English Y Elwes
Terry Neff Works of Benedict de Spinoza Eth./TIE/Ep.(sel.) English Y Elwes
The Online Library of Liberty The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza,
Vol. 1
TTP, TP English N
The Online Library of Liberty The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza,
Vol. 2
Eth./TIE/Ep.(sel.) English N
Joseph B. Yesselman A Dedication to Spinoza’s Insights Eth./TIE/TP/Ep. English Y Elwes/Gosset
Jon Roland Political treatise TP English Y Gosset
Evgeny Gutyrchik BDSweb Ep.(sel.) English N Elwes
    Eth. German N
    Eth. Russian N Ivantsov
Henrique Diaz Spinoza et Nous Eth./TIE/TP French N Saisset
    Eth. (part.) French Y Diaz
Jean-Luc Derrien Hyper-Spinoza Eth. French/Latin Y Saisset/Gebhardt
    TIE French/Latin N Appuhn/Gebhardt
    TP French/Latin Y Appuhn/Gebhardt
    Ep. (sel.) French N Appuhn
Michel Dufour Ethique de Spinoza Eth. French Y Appuhn
Leon Kuunders despinoza.nl Eth./TIE Latin N Gebhardt
    Eth./TIE English N Elwes
    Eth./TIE French N Saisset
Leon Kuunders et. al. Spinozahuis Eth Dutch N Burger
Spinozahuis Spinozahuis TP (cap. 6-11) Dutch N W. Meijer
Stan Verdult Benedictus de Spinoza TP Dutch N
W. Meijer
Zeno Zeno.org, Meine Bibliothek Eth./TP German N Stern
Miranda van de Heijning Project Gutenberg EBook #15497 Eth./TIE(Intr.) Dutch Y van Suchtelen

Notes on editions and translations

As far as I have been able to ascertain, all publications shown in this list are “original” works, at least as regards layout, formatting and linking. I have found a further few editions on the Web, but these are straightforward copies (with or without acknowledgement) of the ones shown above, and of my own. These will not be listed, as they seem to defeat one of the purposes of the Web, namely to maximize access to up-to-date and accurate information by linking rather than copying. Finally, the well-known general collections of electronic texts, such as Gutenberg and Wikisource may have a number of texts in various languages, that I do not list here either, since these collections evolve in a very dynamic way. Exception is made for the Latin compartment of Wikisource, Vicifons, see above.

I have not been able in all cases to establish the particulars of the translation, or on which edition of the latin original they are based. Helpful suggestions are welcomed, preferably by e-mail.

For a first appreciation of the characteristics of the orginal in comparison with a translation, I have put up a few favourite passages in my own version and in English and French translations.

Selected Latin resources

The following references may be helpful for the study of Spinoza’s Latin.

For revision history of this edition see technical annex

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