I'm reading an article about Spinoza.

There is a sentence that I don't understand,

Spinoza’s views on God, religion and society have lost none of their relevance.

From what I know, 'relevance' here seems meaning "appliances, utilities", so the whole sentence becomes "Spinoza's views on God, religion and society didn't lose their appliances, however I still don't understand it.

Checking the dictionary, 'relevance' means 'pertinence', I'm still confused about the exact meaning of the sentence, "relevant to what?" "pertinent to what?"

I google about the word, there are many sentences like "lost its relevance", does that means "lost its appliance"? or "No longer applicable"?

The whole paragraph is as:

Spinoza’s views on God, religion and society have lost none of their relevance. At a time when Americans seem willing to bargain away their freedoms for security, when politicians talk of banning people of a certain faith from our shores, and when religious zealotry exercises greater influence on matters of law and public policy, Spinoza’s philosophy – especially his defence of democracy, liberty, secularity and toleration – has never been more timely. In his distress over the deteriorating political situation in the Dutch Republic, and despite the personal danger he faced, Spinoza did not hesitate to boldly defend the radical Enlightenment values that he, along with many of his compatriots, held dear. In Spinoza we can find inspiration for resistance to oppressive authority and a role model for intellectual opposition to those who, through the encouragement of irrational beliefs and the maintenance of ignorance, try to get citizens to act contrary to their own best interests.


2 Answers 2


If you knew relevant, you could understand this relevance simply as the noun form of relevant.

In any case, the Macmillan Dictionary defines relevant as "directly connected with and important to what is being discussed or considered"; and relevance as "the quality of being directly connected with and important to something else".

So, your sentence:

Spinoza’s views on God, religion and society have lost none of their relevance.

means roughly any of these:

  • Spinoza’s views (on God, religion and society) haven't lost their relevance.
  • Spinoza’s views are still relevant.
  • Spinoza’s views are still important.
  • Spinoza’s views are still applicable.
  • Thank you All, help me a lot to understand. At the time I read the article, the meaning of the word "relevent" to me only means "related to, pertinent", therefore, I was very confused about what the things his views relevant to? I couldn't figure out. Later, I found in other dictionaries, relevant could be "Appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest", "Meaningful or purposeful in current society or culture", these definitions explain all :D Commented May 5, 2016 at 2:31

The dictionary when using the word appliance is meaning "able to be applied", which means "has use" or useful. Useful means something has utility and thus related to utilities.

When breaking this down it can be reduced to:

Spinoza's views on God, religion and society are still useful.

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