Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Thought Reading is Easy?

Poor Jonathan Israel.

His claim is that his reviewer can't read:-

Not Spinoza

Sir, – I hope that you will permit me to correct a serious inaccuracy in Jeffrey Collins’s review of my book A Revolution of the Mind (February 26). Collins states there that I “present Spinozism as the ‘chief factor’ propelling the American Revolution”. This is not at all my view and I state nothing of the kind in that book or anywhere else.

In fact, Spinozism was of no importance whatever in shaping the American Revolution, and any suggestion to the contrary would be absurd. Locke was unquestionably far more important than Spinoza in inspiring that great event and writing Locke out of the American Revolution would indeed (almost) be “like writing Marx out of the Russian”.

Professor Collins’s gross misreading here can hardly be regarded as a purely innocent error, though, since the aim of the sentence is obviously to make the author, namely myself, look ridiculous. I can only suggest that in future he read texts about whose authors he attempts to make scathing remarks with much greater care first.

School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive, Princeton, New Jersey 08540

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