Virtual Seminar: “Spinoza and Education”

Dear friends of SPSE (The Society for the Philosophical Study of Education),

We are pleased to invite you to our upcoming seminar on “Spinoza and Education” on May 10, 2023 at 9:00-11:00 am (Mountain Time, USA) / 17:00-19:00 (Central European Time). It will be virtual and free of charge. Please have a look at the flyer in the attachment for further information.

Our invited keynote speaker is Prof. Klas Roth from Stockholm University in Sweden. Here is an abstract of his argument:


Is the conatus (striving) of human beings, in the sense Spinoza argues for it, weakened or strengthened through education? I will argue that conatus is not necessarily strengthened through education, but weakened. I will show why, and also how it could be strengthened. By conatus, Spinoza means the following: “The striving by which each thing strives to persevere in its being is nothing but the actual essence of the thing” (Ethics 3, p.7), and just before p. 7 he says: “Each thing, as far as it can by its own power, strives to persevere in its being” (E3p6). And in the case of human beings this means that that both mind, body and emotions are engaged in this striving to persevere. Anything contrary to such an engagement in education or society at large does not contribute to the strengthening of the conatus, that is, the potential of its power. It is not strengthened if human beings only are partially causing certain effects or are not aware of the effects and their causes, and it is strengthened when they have a clear understanding of causes of effects. And they can achieve such an understanding only if they act upon adequate ideas, and not inadequate ones, that is, clear and distinct ideas and not confused ones. However, even though human beings endeavor to persevere in their being, Spinoza argues that “it’s not in in everyone’s power to always use reason and be at the highest peak of human freedom” (Political Treatise, 2:8). Hence, even though education would enable those concerned to strengthen their conatus, it is not always and necessarily the case that each and everyone use their reason to escape their bondage from external forces or from the influence of their feelings, and become free.

We look forward to your participation!

Contact Elias Schwieler ( or Sabrina Bacher ( for access to the Zoom link.

All the best,

Sabrina and Elias

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