Research

My primary research interests are in early modern political thought and history of ethics. My work has focused primarily on Spinoza, but I have also written about Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Hume, among others. I am also deeply interested in moral psychology, having written pieces on empathy, humility, and the psychology of tolerance, and I am currently working on a manuscript that will be an interpretation and (qualified) defense of Spinoza’s accounts of belief-formation, emotion, motivation, and agency. In addition to this project, I am also editing a volume of essays on humility (Oxford Philosophical Concepts) and am co-editing (w/ Karolina Hübner) The Cambridge Spinoza Lexicon.

A brief video about my recent book Spinoza's Political Psychology can be found here


Spinoza’s Political Psychology: The Taming of Fortune and Fear, Cambridge University Press, 2018.


Reviews:

"Justin Steinberg’s excellent book, Spinoza’s Political Psychology, focuses on the role of affect management in bringing about this delicate balance [of individual and civic flourishing]....We can, and should, engage with the important implications of Steinberg’s book, which allows us to see Spinoza’s state as having an affective purpose, and key epistemic and ethical roles. In this respect, Steinberg’s outlook is more aligned with the French tradition of Spinoza interpretation than the Anglo-American one. It is to his credit that he draws substantially on both literatures, to reveal Spinoza’s political theory as something unique, both gesturing back to Renaissance humanism and reaching into our own troubled present"


Beth Lord (Aberdeen) in Philosophical Quarterly.


"This ambitious, successful book presents an interpretation of Spinoza's views on politics as they occur, principally, in the Ethics, the Theological-Political Treatise (TTP) and the Political Treatise (TP)...Steinberg presents a strong case, grounded in history, philosophy, and political theory, for finding a view about politics in Spinoza that is, in its basic commitments, coherent and unchanged across Spinoza's works. The book is an excellent starting point for advanced students and scholars of Spinoza's political thought"


Michael LeBuffe (Otago) in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Full review here


"In this ambitious and important book, Justin Steinberg attempts to explain the significance of the project for both contemporary political philosophy and the history of political thought....Steinberg has written one of the best books on Spinoza's politics in recent years. The details of the interpretations will be of great interest to all Spinoza scholars, and the overall argument makes an important contribution to a broader discussion of early modern political theory"


Michael Rosenthal (Toronto) in the Journal of the History of Philosophy.


Spinoza (Classic Thinkers Series), Polity Press, 2020. Co-Authored with Valtteri Viljanen (Turku).


Reviews:

“I never recommended a book about Spinoza until now. Steinberg and Viljanen’s Spinoza neatly presents this grand thinkers abominable and monstrous metaphysical philosophy, cleanly tying it to his ethics and political theory. Excellent for professionals and amateurs alike.”

Steven Barbone, San Diego State University

“In its comprehensiveness, Steinberg and Viljanen’s book rivals the great encyclopedic studies of the nineteenth century, while drawing upon the latest historical discoveries and interpretative work. It is a comprehensive and readable introduction to the best current knowledge of Spinoza.”

Alexander Douglas, University of St Andrews


2021. “Striving, Happiness, and the Good: Spinoza as Follower and Critic of Hobbes,” in A Blackwell Companion to Hobbes, ed. Marcus Adams (Wiley-Blackwell Press), 431 – 447.


2021. “ ‘Stop Being So Judgmental!’: A Spinozist Model of Personal Tolerance,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Toleration, ed. Mitja Sardoc (Palgrave Press), 1 – 17.


2020. "Spinoza on Security and the Value of Hope,” part of critical exchange, “Spinoza: Thoughts on Hope in our Political Present,” ed. Moira Gatens, Contemporary Political Theory, 20, 200 – 231.

2020. “Politics as a Model of Pedagogy in Spinoza,” Ethics and Education, 15(2), 158 – 172.

2019. “Spinoza on Civil Agreement and Bodies Politic,” in Spinoza and Relational Autonomy: Being with Others, eds. Aurelia Armstrong, Keith Green, and Andrea Sangiacomo (Edinburgh University Press), 132 – 148.



2019. “Spinoza’s Political Philosophy,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta. plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza-political/

2018. “Spinoza and Political Absolutism,” in Spinoza’s Political Treatise: A Critical Guide, eds. Hasana Sharp and Yitzhak Melamed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 175 – 189.



2018. “Two Puzzles Concerning Spinoza’s Conception of Belief,” European Journal of Philosophy, 26(1), 261 – 282.

2016. “Affect, Desire, and Judgement in Spinoza’s Account of Motivation,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 24(1), 67 – 87.

2014. “Following a Recta Ratio Vivendi: The Practical Utility of Spinoza’s Dictates of Reason,” in Essays on Spinoza’s Ethical Theory, eds. Matthew Kisner and Andrew Youpa (Oxford University Press), 178 – 196.



2014. “An Epistemic Case for Empathy,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 95, 47 – 71.

2013. “Imitation, Representation, and Humanity in Spinoza’s Ethics,” Journal of the History of Philosophy, 51(3), 383 – 407.

2011. “Spinoza on Human Purposiveness and Mental Causation,” in Logical Analysis and the History of Philosophy, Special Volume on Teleology, 51 – 70.

2010. “Spinoza’s Curious Defense of Toleration,” in Spinoza’s ‘Theological-Political Treatise’: A Critical Guide, eds. Yitzhak Melamed and Michael Rosenthal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 210 – 230.

2010. “Benedict Spinoza: Epistemic Democrat,” History of Philosophy Quarterly, 27(2), 145 –164.

2009. “Spinoza on Civil Liberation,” Journal of the History of Philosophy, 47(1), 35-58.

2008. “On Being Sui Iuris: Spinoza and the Republican Idea of Liberty,” History of European Ideas, 34(3), 239-249.