Miguel Riera Font graduated in Philology by the University of the Balearic Islands. In 2017 he started to prepare his doctoral dissertation about Spinoza and Levinas at the same university, where he also worked as lecturer on Ethics at the Department of Philosophy. Over the last years he has carried out research fellowships in Portugal, Germany and Morocco. His project at J-Med was entitled «Prefiguration and controversy of the Theory of Love as a power to act. Study of the main sources from Ibn Paqūda to Spinoza».
The aim of the project, based on the controversies about Levinas’ thesis on personal responsibility in relation to the subordination to the “other,” was to study some of the main sources that led to Spinoza’s theory on conatus, such as those who preceded the philosopher and his contemporaries, including those whose influence can be found at the Sephardic communities of Amsterdam during the seventeenth century. This innovative study on the relationship of both authors, which can be seen as a parallel to Spinoza efforts to conceal the relation of his theories with those of Maimonides, includes not only philosophical matters, but also the analysis of literary genres.
The project carried out during the stay at J-Med had the following outcome:
- Scrutiny and study of the Jewish, Christian and classical philosophical sources that make up the authorities of Menasseh ben Israel’s work De la fragilidad humana y inclinación del hombre al pecado (Of human frailty and the inclination of man to sin) in the Amsterdan editio princeps of 1642 from the CSIC library collections.
- Comparison of several copies of Ben Israel’s work, both those located in CSIC collections and those preserved in the National Library of Spain (Madrid).
- Study of the following problems in the work of Menasseh ben Israel, through primary and secondary bibliography: free will, divine help, divine grace, first impulse or human will to act, from the CSIC bibliographical funds.
- Study about the similarities and divergences about the theory of love as a power of action present in Spinoza (conatus essendi) with respect to contemporary authors such as Menasseh ben Israel, but also regarding remote sources such as Bahya Ibn Paquda’s Duties of the Heart.
- First bibliographical and terminological study about the main Jewish background of the theory of the first impulse or human will to act from Ibn Paqūda to Spinoza, from the bibliographic funds of the CSIC.
- Seminar attendance “Travels in Science in Fifteenth Century Sephardi Doctors Apulia (MS St. Petersburg, NLR EVR. II A 11)” by professor Fabrizio Lelli by (Università del Salento, Lecce) at CCHS-CSIC on February 20, 2018.
- Postgraduate course attendance “Gendered Spiritualities in Early Modern Jewish Culture” by professor Ada Rapoport-Albert (University College London, UK) at CCHS-CSIC.
- Elaboration of article proposal about Menasseh ben Israel submitted to the internet journal eHumanista/Conversos (published).
- First elaboration of publication or/and congress communication under the provisional title of “The Question of Free Will and Divine Help in De la fragilidad humana.”
More information about this project: