Works on the sources of philosophy generally have the limit of being onesided. Given its objective of emphasising the importance of one way of thinking in the formation of another, in most cases such research ends up either demonstrating a sort of repetition of a hidden source behind the argument that has merely been adapted to new times, or it puts in motion an Aufhebung of which the ‘original’ source is a necessary moment. Spinoza, whose thought allows for the widest possible interpretative spectrum (from neoplatonism to materialism), is extremely opportune for this type of analysis. Indeed, as Macherey has highlighted, Spinoza is ‘located at the crossroads of several cultures’. The material fabric from which he produced his work derives, to cite only the best-known sources, from the Jewish tradition, the Arabic enlightenment, neoplatonism, the Italian Renaissance, scholasticism, Spanish baroque culture, and, undoubtedly, Bacon, Hobbes and Descartes. The temptation to select the red thread – the fundamental source of which Spinozist philosophy would be nothing but an original repetition – from within the complex weave of these traditions is strong: here then is where we would find that Spinoza, beneath his simple Latin, actually thinks in Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew and/or Scholastic Latin. I believe instead that Spinoza's thought is irreducible to any of its sources, and, moreover, cannot be thought as the result of a successful combination between elements of Descartes, Hobbes, Plotinus, Maimonides, etc.
As such, I will be wary of saying that Spinoza thought in Italian, or better yet, in Florentine, in the sparse and powerful style of the cursed secretary. Further, such an operation, which would consist in searching for a simple and transitive origin in the material weave that composes Spinoza's texts, would do nothing to restore a clearer image of Spinoza's philosophy. To think a Machiavellian Spinoza would mean searching through Spinoza's work for the Machiavelli-enigma rather than illustrating the conclusive meaning of Spinoza's philosophy.
However, refusing to conclude by stitching up with the help of the conceptual instruments of classical metaphysics – such as cause, essence, telos and origin – does not entail sceptically abandoning the task of conceptualising the Spinoza–Machiavelli relation. Such a refusal instead precisely furnishes a methodological warning against every type of simplifying temptation.