The dichotomy, commonly assumed in modern thought, between religio externa (or externus cultus) and religio interna (or internus cultus) implies that only God can know what happens in men’s hearts and exert power over it. Spinoza accepts this dichotomy but rejects its implication. First, according to his conception of the kingdom of God, God does not rule over men other than through human sovereign power. Second, if human authorities give freedom of speech to their subjects, they are then able to know what, and how, people think and feel. They can use this knowledge to evaluate citizens’ opinions on the law in order to improve it or, if it be the case, to suppress sedition. However, by means of free speech, authorities also achieve the real goal: the making of rational subjects.
Keywords: Iinternus cultus, externus cultus, kardiognóstes, libertas philosophandi, kingdom of God