Spinoza and the Dutch Cartesians on Philosophy and Theology

Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-Politicus contains a famous injunction to keep philosophy separate from theology. At first this might appear to place him in alliance with a group of Dutch Cartesians, who held that philosophy and theology must be separated because neither can fulfill the function of the other, and indeed neither is even relevant to the function of the other. It would also appear to place him opposition to his friend Lodewijk Meijer, who proposed that philosophy is necessary for the task of theology. However, in this paper I argue that Spinoza was in fact arguing for a third position, which he was at pains to distinguish from both that of the Dutch Cartesians and that of Meijer.