Baruch Spinoza

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Baruch Spinoza
Born
Baruch Espinosa[9] /
Bento de Spinosa[10]

(1632-11-24)24 November 1632
Died21 February 1677(1677-02-21) (aged 44)
The Hague, Dutch Republic
Other namesBenedictus de Spinoza
EducationTalmud Torah of Amsterdam[11]
(withdrew)[12]
University of Leiden
(no degree)[13]
Era17th-century philosophy
Age of Enlightenment
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolCartesianism[1]
Conceptualism[2]
Correspondence theory of truth[a][4]
Direct realism[5]
Foundationalism (according to Hegel)[6]
Rationalism
Psychological Egoism[7]
Spinozism
Main interests
Signature

Baruch (de) Spinoza[b] (24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677), also known under his Latinized pen name Benedictus de Spinoza,[c] was a Jewish Dutch philosopher. As a prominent thinker of the Age of Reason, Spinoza significantly influenced modern biblical criticism, 17th-century Rationalism, and contemporary conceptions of the self and the universe,[19] establishing himself as one of the most important and radical philosophers of the early modern period.[20] He was influenced by Stoicism, Maimonides, Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes, and a variety of heterodox Christian thinkers of his day.[21]

Spinoza was born a Jew in Amsterdam to a Portuguese Marrano family, who left Iberia for more tolerant Amsterdam. He had a traditional education for a Jewish boy, learning Hebrew and studying the sacred texts. He was part of the wealthy Portuguese Jewish community, where his merchant immigrant father was a prominent member. As a young man, however, Spinoza was permanently expelled from the Jewish community for defying rabbinic authorities and disputing Jewish beliefs. After his expulsion in 1656, he did not affiliate with any religion, instead focusing on philosophical study. He had a dedicated clandestine circle of supporters, a philosophical sect, who met to discuss the writings he shared with them in his lifetime, and, immediately following his death, rescued his unpublished writings for posterity.[22]

Spinoza challenged the divine origin of the Hebrew Bible, the nature of God, and the earthly power wielded by religious authorities, Jewish and Christian alike. He was frequently called an "atheist" by contemporaries, although nowhere in his work does Spinoza argue against the existence of God.[23][24] This can be explained by the fact that, unlike contemporary 21st-century scholars, "When seventeenth-century readers accused Spinoza of atheism, they usually meant that he challenged doctrinal orthodoxy, particularly on moral issues, and not that he denied God’s existence."[25] His theological studies were inseparable from his thinking on politics; he is grouped with Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, and Kant, who "helped establish the genre of political writing called secular theology."[26]

Spinoza's philosophy encompasses nearly every area of philosophical discourse,[27] including metaphysics, epistemology, political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. With an enduring reputation as one of the most original and influential thinkers of the seventeenth century, Rebecca Goldstein dubbed him "the renegade Jew who gave us modernity."[28]

Biography[edit]

Spinoza lived where the Moses and Aaron Church is located now, and there is strong evidence that he may have been born there.[29]

Family background[edit]

Both sides of Spinoza’s family were originally Portuguese Sephardic Jews. His immediate family migrated to Amsterdam, arriving in the early seventeenth century, as Sephardic Jews in the Netherlands were openly establishing a community and could practice their religion without persecution by the Inquisition. The family in Portugal were New Christians, forced converts (conversos) to Catholicism. In Portugal in the early sixteenth century, the crown initially looked the other way as outwardly Catholic New Christians practiced Judaism in private. The Portuguese Inquisition was not even established until 1536. As the Inquisition increasingly cracked down, more New Christians continued practicing Judaism in secrecy.[30] A legacy of the era was that many in Spinoza's family had both Christian and Jewish names.

Spinoza's father Michael married his cousin Rachael d’Espinosa, daughter of his uncle Abraham d’Espinosa, who became of the Amsterdam Sephradim community.[31] Such a pattern of intermarriage was fairly common in the Jewish merchant community under the rationale of keeping commercial and religious ties strong. Marrying his cousin Rachel gave Michael access to his uncle/father-in-law's commercial network and capital.

When Michael’s wife died in 1627, he married again to Hannah Deborah, a quiet figure who, most of the time, remained in the background. His second wife brought a dowry to the marriage, which should not have been absorbed into the capital of the family business. This marriage proved fruitful, with five children who survived to adulthood. Michael was a successful, although not enormously wealthy, merchant in Amsterdam, prominent in the community. [16]

The first-born of his second marriage was Miriam, followed by Isaac (1631-49). Isaac d'Espinosa was expected to take over as head of family and its commercial enterprise.

Baruch Espinosa,[9] the third child and second son, was born on 24 November 1632 opposite the island Vlooienburg on Houtgracht. He was named as per tradition for his maternal grandfather.

Spinoza’s younger brother Gabriel (Abraham) was born in 1634, followed by another sister, Rebecca (Ribca). Spinoza’s sister Miriam married Samuel de Caceres, but Miriam died shortly after giving birth. Following Jewish tradition, the widower Samuel married his former sister-in-law Rebecca. Spinoza's sisters' marriages to Caceres and his honored place in the Spinoza family as a scholar, meant that Spinoza's own ambitions as a scholar were pushed aside. There was discord between Spinoza and his sister and brother-in-law over inheritance, which played out later when Spinoza broke with rabbinic authorities and the Jewish community.[32]

His mother, Hannah Déborah, Michael's second wife, died when Baruch was only six years old. Michael remarried to give his five children a mother figure. The third marriage was childless so that Spinoza and his siblings had no half- or step-siblings.[33]

Spinoza was related in a complicated way with the highly controversial figure in the Amsterdam Portuguese Jewish community, the philosopher Uriel da Costa (1585-1640), through his mother’s family in Porto. Da Costa's battle for freedom of thought and speech led him to question the Catholic and rabbinic traditions of his time, leading to him being excommunicated twice by rabbinic authorities and facing harsh social exclusion. He committed suicide in 1640, when Spinoza was eight years old. It's possible that Spinoza was unaware of the scandalous family connection during his early childhood.[34] However, as he progressed in his schooling and approached adulthood, it is likely that he heard discussion surrounding Uriel da Costa through a close associate of the De Spinoza family, Rabbi Mortera, a central figure in the Da Costa scandal[35] who knew the family since the time of Spinoza's great uncle, Abraham. [36]

School days[edit]

Spinoza's family spoke Portuguese, as did other Sephardim. Esther, Michael's third wife and Spinoza's mother from the age of nine, spoke no Dutch but was fluent in Portuguese.[37] Spinoza studied Hebrew at school and Jewish liturgy. He knew Dutch, which he likely learned informally, and learned Latin as a young man.[38]

In contemporary documents before his 1656 expulsion from the Jewish community, Spinoza's name is given as the Portuguese "Bento"; his Hebrew name "Baruch" was used in religious contexts. Following Spinoza's excommunication at age 23, he began using the Latinized version of his name, "Benedictus de Spinoza."

Spinoza had a traditional upbringing for a Jewish boy, attending a local religious school, the Keter Torah yeshiva of the Amsterdam Talmud Torah congregation headed by the learned and traditional senior Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira.[39] Teachers also included the less traditional Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel. Since Spinoza never reached a level of advanced study of the Torah,[16] the senior rabbis were unlikely to have had him as a pupil. The sudden end of Spinoza's schooling was due to the unexpected death of his elder brother Isaac, who had been actively involved in the family business.[16]

The family business and intellectual explorations[edit]

Spinoza had been actively involved in the family business when his father, Michael, died in 1654, Although Spinoza duly recited Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning, for eleven months as required by Jewish law.[16]

As with other merchants in Amsterdam, the Spinozas' business was affected by the First Anglo-Dutch War in the years of 1652-1654, as well as by some commercial deals that soured, and found itself in severe difficulty. In addition, Michael had absorbed the dowry of Spinoza's mother as regular capital for his business, rather than keeping it separate for her children after her death. As such, the money was at risk for collection by Michael's many creditors.[citation needed]

Spinoza was just 21 when his father died; in Dutch law, he was a legal minor. Nonetheless, he and his younger brother Gabriel (Abraham) formed a business partnership, attempting to continue the family business, including collecting unpaid debts owed by merchants to their father's estate.[citation needed]

Spinoza had continued to support the synagogue financially and attend services. When his sister Rebekah disputed his inheritance seeking it for herself, he sued her to seek a court judgment, won the case, but then renounced his claim to the court's judgment in his favor and assigned his inheritance to her.[40]

In March 1656, Spinoza filed suit with the Amsterdam municipal authorities to be declared an orphan, since he was still a legal minor. He sought relief through Dutch law, not through judgment by Jewish authorities, from whom he had become increasingly estranged. He won the civil lawsuit, which allowed him to inherit his mother's estate without it being subject to his father's creditors and devote himself chiefly to the study of philosophy, especially the system expounded by Descartes, and to optics.[41]

At some point between 1654 and 1658, Spinoza began to study Latin with Franciscus van den Enden. Van den Enden was a former Jesuit who was a political radical, and likely introduced Spinoza to scholastic and modern philosophy, including that of Descartes.[42][43] Spinoza adopted the Latin name Benedictus de Spinoza, began boarding with Van den Enden, and began teaching in his school.[42][43]

During this period Spinoza also became acquainted with the Collegiants, an anti-clerical sect of Remonstrants with tendencies towards rationalism, and with the liberal faction among the Mennonites who had existed for a century but were close to the Remonstrants.[44] Many of his friends belonged to dissident Christian groups which met regularly as discussion groups and which typically rejected the authority of established churches as well as traditional dogmas.[45] In the second half of the 1650s and the first half of the 1660s Spinoza became acquainted with several persons who would themselves emerge as unorthodox thinkers: this group, known as the Spinoza Circle, included Pieter Balling , Jarig Jelles , Lodewijk Meyer, Johannes Bouwmeester and Adriaen Koerbagh.

Expulsion from the Jewish community[edit]

Spinoza and the Rabbis by Samuel Hirszenberg (1907)
Spinoza's name crossed out on the list of pupils of Ets Haim

The Amsterdam Jewish community was largely composed of Spanish and Portuguese converso New Christians who had migrated from Spain and Portugal to escape the Spanish Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition. Amsterdam was tolerant of religious diversity so long as it was practiced discreetly. Jews were not legally confined to a ghetto, and the city presented economic opportunities.[46] This community would have been concerned with protecting its reputation and not associating with Spinoza lest his controversial views provide the basis for their own possible persecution or expulsion.[47] Spinoza did not openly break with Jewish authorities until after his father died in 1654 when he became public and defiant. His break was not sudden but was the result of lengthy and stressful religious, financial, and legal clashes involving his business and synagogue. Spinoza went against synagogue regulations by filing suit in a civil court rather than with the synagogue authorities to renounce his father's heritage.[41] Pierre Bayle recounts in Dictionnaire Historique et Critique that Spinoza was lightly wounded in a knife attack exiting a theater; although the story is unlikely, it shows how drastically his life was changing in 1655.[40][48]

On 27 July 1656, the Sepharadi Talmud Torah congregation of Amsterdam, which included Aboab de Fonseca,[49] issued a writ of herem against the 23-year-old Spinoza.[40][50][51] The Talmud Torah congregation routinely issued censures on matters great and small, but Spinoza's censure was unusually harsh, with language that does not appear in any other censure known to have been issued by the Portuguese-Jewish community in Amsterdam.[52] The exact reason for expelling Spinoza is not stated.[53] The censure refers only to the "abominable heresies [horrendas heregias] that he practised and taught", to his "monstrous deeds", and to the testimony of witnesses "in the presence of the said Espinoza". There is no record of such testimony, but there appear to have been several likely reasons for the issuance of the censure.[54] Even though the Amsterdam municipal authorities were not directly involved in Spinoza's censure itself, the town council expressly ordered the Portuguese-Jewish community to regulate their conduct and ensure that the community kept a strict observance of Jewish law.[55] Other evidence makes it clear that the danger of upsetting the civil authorities was never far from mind, such as bans adopted by the synagogue on public wedding or funeral processions and on discussing religious matters with Christians, lest such activity might "disturb the liberty we enjoy".[56] The issuance of Spinoza's censure was an exercise in self-censorship by the Portuguese-Jewish community in Amsterdam.[57]

Ban in Portuguese of Baruch Spinoza by his Portuguese Jewish synagogue community of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 6 Av 5416 (27 July 1656)

Spinoza had already taken the initiative to separate himself from the Talmud Torah congregation and was criticising Judaism through his philosophical works, such as the Part I of Ethics.[58] He had probably stopped attending services at the synagogue, either after the lawsuit with his sister or after the knife attack on its steps. He might already have been voicing the view expressed later in his Theological-Political Treatise that the civil authorities should suppress Judaism as harmful to the Jews themselves. Either for financial or other reasons,[59][43] he had in any case effectively stopped contributing to the synagogue by March 1656. Unlike most censures issued by the Amsterdam congregation, since the censure did not lead to repentance, it was never withdrawn. After the censure, Spinoza is said to have addressed an Apologia (defense), written in Spanish, to the elders of the synagogue, defending his views as orthodox, and condemning the rabbis.[60]

Spinoza's expulsion from the Jewish community did not lead to his conversion to Christianity. Spinoza took the Latinized name Benedictus de Spinoza, maintained a close association with the Collegiants (a liberal Protestant sect of Remonstrants) and Quakers,[61] moved to a town near the Collegiants' headquarters, and was buried at the Protestant Church, Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague, since burial was a sectarian matter and he was ineligible to be buried in the Jewish cemetery.[62] Spinoza did not maintain a sense of Jewish identity because, in his view, being a secular and assimilated Jew was nonsense.[63] Spinoza scholar Yirmiyahu Yovel questioned whether Spinoza could be categorized as the first secular Jew since he was still regarded as a Jew despite not adhering to Jewish law or belonging to the Jewish community.[64]

Career as a philosopher[edit]

Seal with Spinoza's initials and the Latin word meaning "caution"
Study room of Spinoza in Rijnsburg

Spinoza has been called "the reticent radical", who proceeded cautiously for the next 22 years, quietly writing and studying as a private scholar.[65] He initially taught in the school of his Latin tutor, Franciscus van den Enden, with whom he boarded for a time. Later, upon leaving Amsterdam, he earned a living as a lens grinder. He also received some financial assistance from supporters of his intellectual stance. After the herem, the Amsterdam municipal authorities expelled Spinoza from Amsterdam, "responding to the appeals of the rabbis, and also of the Calvinist clergy, who had been vicariously offended by the existence of a free thinker in the synagogue".

He spent a brief time in or near the village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, where the Portuguese Jews had been allowed to buy land to establish Beth Haim, a Jewish burying ground. Spinoza's parents and grandparents are buried there. Spinoza returned soon afterwards to Amsterdam and lived there quietly for several years, giving private philosophy lessons and grinding lenses, before leaving the city in 1660 or 1661.[60] During this time in Amsterdam, Spinoza wrote his Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being, which he never published in his lifetime, assuming with good reason that it might get suppressed. Two Dutch translations of it survive, discovered about 1810.[60]

In 1660 or 1661, Spinoza moved from Amsterdam to Rijnsburg (near Leiden), the center of Dutch Remonstrants known as the Collegiants.[66] In Rijnsburg, he began work on his Descartes' "Principles of Philosophy" as well as on his masterpiece, the Ethics. In 1663, he returned briefly to Amsterdam, where he finished and published Descartes' "Principles of Philosophy", the only work published in his lifetime under his own name, and then moved the same year to Voorburg.

In Voorburg, Spinoza continued work on his magnum opus, titled posthumously Ethics, and corresponded with scientists, philosophers, and theologians throughout Europe. He published in Latin, anonymously, and with false printer information Theological-Political Treatise (TTP) in 1670, in defense of secular and constitutional government, and in support of Jan de Witt, the Grand Pensionary of Holland, against the Stadtholder, the Prince of Orange.

Spinoza deliberately chose to write in Latin, which meant that his message was restricted to those learned few who knew the scholarly language. Dutch philosopher and physician, Adriaan Koerbagh attempted to publish a work in Dutch questioning the Trinity as a concept, asserted that Jesus was a human being, and that the scripture was not divinely inspired, was proposing ideas that also appear in Spinoza writings in Latin. Koerbagh's "A Flower Garden of All Sorts of Delights" in Dutch came to the attention to the authorities, who incarcerated him to be followed by exile, but he died while in prison. Spinoza did not wish to die a martyr to his ideas, and exercised caution by publishing his 1670 TTP anonymously in Latin, and refraining from publishing any further works. Unlike Koerbagh, Spinoza died at home in his own bed.[67]

Leibniz visited Spinoza and claimed that Spinoza's life was in danger when supporters of the Prince of Orange murdered de Witt in 1672.[68] While the TTP was published anonymously, the work did not long remain so, and de Witt's enemies characterized it as "forged in Hell by a renegade Jew and the Devil, and issued with the knowledge of Jan de Witt". It was condemned in 1673 by the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church and formally banned in 1674.[69]

In 1670, Spinoza moved to The Hague, where he lived on a small pension from Jan de Witt and a small annuity from the brother of his dead friend, Simon de Vries.[70] He worked on the manuscript of what was later called Ethics, wrote an unfinished Hebrew grammar, began his Political Treatise (TP), left unfinished at his death, wrote two scientific essays ("On the Rainbow" and "On the Calculation of Chances"), and began a Dutch translation of the Bible (which he later destroyed).[70] Spinoza was offered the chair of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg, but he refused it, perhaps because of the possibility that it might in some way curb his freedom of thought.[71]

Spinoza also corresponded with Peter Serrarius, a radical Protestant and millenarian merchant. Serrarius was a patron to Spinoza after Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish community. He acted as an intermediary for Spinoza's correspondence, sending and receiving letters of the philosopher to and from third parties. Spinoza and Serrarius maintained their relationship until Serrarius' death in 1669.[72]

By the beginning of the 1660s, Spinoza's name became more widely known. The Secretary of the British Royal Society Henry Oldenburg paid him visits and became a correspondent with Spinoza for the rest of his life.[73] In 1676, Leibniz came to the Hague to discuss the unpublished Ethics, Spinoza's principal philosophical work, parts of which apparently had circulated in manuscript form.[74]

Lens-grinding and optics[edit]

Spinoza earned a modest living from lens-grinding and instrument making, yet he was involved in important optical investigations of the day while living in Voorburg, through correspondence and friendships with scientist Christiaan Huygens and mathematician Johannes Hudde, including debate over microscope design with Huygens, favouring small objectives[75] and collaborating on calculations for a prospective 40-foot (12 m) focal length telescope which would have been one of the largest in Europe at the time.[76] He was known for making not just lenses but also telescopes and microscopes.[77] The quality of Spinoza's lenses was much praised by Christiaan Huygens, among others.[78] In fact, his technique and instruments were so esteemed that Constantijn Huygens ground a "clear and bright" telescope lens with focal length of 42 feet (13 m) in 1687 from one of Spinoza's grinding dishes, ten years after his death.[79] He was said by anatomist Theodor Kerckring to have produced an "excellent" microscope, the quality of which was the foundation of Kerckring's anatomy claims.[80] During his time as a lens and instrument maker, he was also supported by small but regular donations from close friends.[45]

Death and rescue of his unpublished writings[edit]

Burial monument of Spinoza at the churchyard of the Nieuwe Kerk (The Hague)

Spinoza's health began to fail in 1676, dying in The Hague on 21 February 1677 at the age of 44, attended by a physician friend, Georg Herman Schuller. Although he had been ill with some form of lung affliction, described as "ex phthisi [from consumption]", perhaps complicated by silicosis brought on by grinding glass lenses,[81] his death on that particular day was unexpected by himself or his landlord and landlady with whom he lived, and he died without leaving a will.[82][83] There were assertions that he had repented his philosophical stances on his deathbed, but all credible evidence points to his dying unrepentant and in tranquility.[84] The first biography of Spinoza,[85] by Lutheran preacher Johannes Colerus (1647-1707), was prompted to investigate Spinoza's last days.[86]

Spinoza was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) on the Spui four days after his death, on 25 February, inside the church, with six others in the same vault. At the time there was no memorial plaque for Spinoza. In the 18th century, the vault was emptied and the "remnants scattered over the earth of the churchyard." The memorial plaque visitors now see is outside, where some of his remains are part of the churchyard's soil.[87]

When he died, friends rescued his personal belongings and papers, most importantly his unpublished manuscripts. These which were stored in a cabinet attached to his writing desk. His supporters swiftly took them away for safekeeping from seizure by those wishing to suppress his writings. They do not appear in the inventory of his possessions at death. Within a year of his death, his supporters translated his manuscripts written in Latin into Dutch, and subsequently into other vernacular languages. His works were banned by Dutch authorities and later the Roman Catholic Church.[88][89]

Writings[edit]

Spinoza published little in his lifetime and most of his formal writings were in Latin, which would have reached only a small number of readers. He actively told supporters not to translate his works, but following his death, his supporters published his works posthumously, in Latin and in Dutch. Other translations to European languages following. A descriptive bibliography has been published that contextualizes all aspects of the publication history of Spinoza's writings from manuscript to print.[90]

The reaction to the anonymously published work, Theologico-Political Treatise (TTP)(1670), was extremely unfavorable. Spinoza abstained from publishing further, but his writings circulated among his supporters in manuscript form during his lifetime. Wary and independent, he wore a signet ring which he used to mark his letters and which was engraved with the word caute (Latin for "cautiously") underneath a rose, itself a symbol of secrecy.[91]

The Ethics and all other works, apart from the Descartes' Principles of Philosophy, which was published under his own name, and the Theologico-Political Treatise, published anonymously, appeared in print after his 1677 death. The Opera Posthuma was edited by his friends in secrecy to prevent confiscation and destruction of manuscripts. The Ethics contains many still-unresolved obscurities and is written with a forbidding mathematical structure modeled on Euclid's geometry and has been described as a "superbly cryptic masterwork".[92]

Major publications[edit]

  • c. 1660. Korte Verhandeling van God, de mensch en deszelvs welstand (A Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well-Being).
  • 1662. Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione (On the Improvement of the Understanding) (unfinished).
  • 1663. Principia philosophiae cartesianae (The Principles of Cartesian Philosophy, translated by Samuel Shirley, with an Introduction and Notes by Steven Barbone and Lee Rice, Indianapolis, 1998). Gallica (in Latin).
  • 1670. Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (A Theologico-Political Treatise), TTP, published anonymously in his lifetime with a false place of publication.
  • 1675–76. Tractatus Politicus (Political Treatise), TP (unfinished at his death), published posthumously. (PDF version)
  • 1677. Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata (The Ethics, finished 1674, but published posthumously, title added posthumously)
  • 1677. Compendium grammatices linguae hebraeae (Hebrew Grammar).[93]
  • Morgan, Michael L. (ed.), 2002. Spinoza: Complete Works, with the Translation of Samuel Shirley, Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-87220-620-5.
  • Edwin Curley (ed.), 1985, 2016. The Collected Works of Spinoza (two volumes), Princeton: Princeton University Press.(Excludes the Compendium grammatices linguae hebraeae).
  • Spruit, Leen and Pina Totaro, 2011. The Vatican Manuscript of Spinoza's Ethica, Leiden: Brill. This is the only known surviving manuscript of Spinoza's Ethics, discovered in the Vatican archive and published in a bilingual Latin-English edition.

Correspondence[edit]

Letter from Spinoza to Leibniz, with his BdS seal

Few letters are extant for such an important intellectual figure and none before 1661. Practically all of them are of philosophical, technical nature, since "the political and ecclesiastical persecution of the time led the original editors of the Opera Posthuma his friends Lodewijk Meyer, Georg Hermann Schuller, and Johannes Bouwmeester—to delete personal matters and to disregard letters of a personal nature".[94] Spinoza engaged in correspondence from December 1664 to June 1665 with Willem van Blijenbergh, an amateur Calvinist theologian, who questioned Spinoza on the definition of evil. Later in 1665, Spinoza notified Oldenburg that he had started to work on a new book, the Theologico-Political Treatise, published in 1670. Leibniz disagreed harshly with Spinoza in his own manuscript "Refutation of Spinoza",[95] but he is also known to have met with Spinoza on at least one occasion[73][96] and his own work bears some striking resemblances to specific important parts of Spinoza's philosophy (see: Monadology). Leibniz was concerned when his name was not redacted from a letter to Spinoza that was printed in the Opera Posthuma. [97]

In a letter, written in December 1675 and sent to Albert Burgh, who wanted to defend Catholicism, Spinoza clearly explained his view of both Catholicism and Islam. He stated that both religions are made "to deceive the people and to constrain the minds of men". He also states that Islam far surpasses Catholicism in doing so.[98][99] The Tractatus de Deo, Homine, ejusque Felicitate (Treatise on God, man and his happiness) was one of the last of Spinoza's works to be published, between 1851[100] and 1862.[101]

Philosophy[edit]

Spinoza's philosophy is explicated in his two major publications originally written in Latin, the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (TTP) (1670) and the Ethics, published posthumously in Latin and Dutch. His incomplete Tractatus Politicus (Political Treatise), was also published posthumously.

Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (TTP)[edit]

Despite its being published in Latin rather than a vernacular language, this 1670 treatise published in Spinoza's lifetime caused a huge reaction, described as "one of the most significant events in European intellectual history,"[102] with a prolonged furore "that has no parallel in early modern intellectual history."[103]

Ethics[edit]

The Ethics has been associated with that of Leibniz and René Descartes as part of the rationalist school of thought,[96] which includes the assumption that ideas correspond to reality perfectly, in the same way that mathematics is supposed to be an exact representation of the world. The writings of René Descartes have been described as "Spinoza's starting point".[92] Spinoza's first publication was his 1663 geometric exposition of proofs using Euclid's model with definitions and axioms of Descartes' Principles of Philosophy. Following Descartes, Spinoza aimed to understand truth through logical deductions from 'clear and distinct ideas', a process which always begins from the 'self-evident truths' of axioms.[104] However, his actual project does not end there: from his first work to his last one, there runs a thread of "attending to the highest good" (which also is the highest truth) and thereby achieving a state of peace and harmony, either in the metaphysical or political manner. In this light, the Principles of Philosophy might be viewed as an "exercise in geometric method and philosophy", paving the way for numerous concepts and conclusions that would define his philosophy (see Cogitata Metaphysica).[105]

Metaphysics[edit]

Spinoza's metaphysics consists of one thing, substance, and its modifications (modes). Early in The Ethics Spinoza argues that there is only one substance, which is absolutely infinite, self-caused, and eternal. He calls this substance "God", or "Nature". In fact, he takes these two terms to be synonymous (in the Latin the phrase he uses is "Deus sive Natura"). For Spinoza the whole of the natural universe consists of one substance, God, or, what is the same, Nature, and its modifications (modes).

It cannot be overemphasized how the rest of Spinoza's philosophy—his philosophy of mind, his epistemology, his psychology, his moral philosophy, his political philosophy, and his philosophy of religion—flows more or less directly from the metaphysical underpinnings in Part I of the Ethics.[106]

Substance, attributes, and modes[edit]

Spinoza sets forth a vision of Being, illuminated by his awareness of God. They may seem strange at first sight. To the question "What is?" he replies: "Substance, its attributes, and modes".

Following Maimonides, Spinoza defined substance as "that which is in itself and is conceived through itself", meaning that it can be understood without any reference to anything external.[108] Being conceptually independent also means that the same thing is ontologically independent, depending on nothing else for its existence and being the 'cause of itself' (causa sui).[108] A mode is something which cannot exist independently but rather must do so as part of something else on which it depends, including properties (for example colour), relations (such as size) and individual things.[109] Modes can be further divided into 'finite' and 'infinite' ones, with the latter being evident in every finite mode (he gives the examples of "motion" and "rest").[110] The traditional understanding of an attribute in philosophy is similar to Spinoza's modes, though he uses that word differently.[109] To him, an attribute is "that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance", and there are possibly an infinite number of them.[111] It is the essential nature which is "attributed" to reality by intellect.[112]

Probable portrait of Spinoza, by Barend Graat, 1666

Spinoza defined God as "a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence", and since "no cause or reason" can prevent such a being from existing, it therefore must exist.[112] This is a form of the ontological argument, which is claimed to prove the existence of God, but Spinoza went further in stating that it showed that only God exists.[113] Accordingly, he stated that "Whatever is, is in God, and nothing can exist or be conceived without God".[113][114] This means that God is identical with the universe, an idea which he encapsulated in the phrase "Deus sive Natura" ('God or Nature'), which has been interpreted by some as atheism or pantheism.[115] Though there are many more of them, God can be known by humans either through the attribute of extension or the attribute of thought.[116] Thought and extension represent giving complete accounts of the world in mental or physical terms.[117] To this end, he says that "the mind and the body are one and the same thing, which is conceived now under the attribute of thought, now under the attribute of extension".[118]

After stating his proof for God's existence, Spinoza addresses who "God" is. Spinoza believed that God is "the sum of the natural and physical laws of the universe and certainly not an individual entity or creator".[119] Spinoza attempts to prove that God is just the substance of the universe by first stating that substances do not share attributes or essences and then demonstrating that God is a "substance" with an infinite number of attributes, thus the attributes possessed by any other substances must also be possessed by God. Therefore, God is just the sum of all the substances of the universe. God is the only substance in the universe, and everything is a part of God. This view was described by Charles Hartshorne as Classical Pantheism.[120]

Spinoza argues that "things could not have been produced by God in any other way or in any other order than is the case".[121] Therefore, concepts such as 'freedom' and 'chance' have little meaning.[115] This picture of Spinoza's determinism is illuminated in Ethics: "the infant believes that it is by free will that it seeks the breast; the angry boy believes that by free will he wishes vengeance; the timid man thinks it is with free will he seeks flight; the drunkard believes that by a free command of his mind he speaks the things which when sober he wishes he had left unsaid. … All believe that they speak by a free command of the mind, whilst, in truth, they have no power to restrain the impulse which they have to speak."[122] In his letter to G. H. Schuller (Letter 58), he wrote: "men are conscious of their desire and unaware of the causes by which [their desires] are determined."[123] He also held that knowledge of true causes of passive emotion can transform it into an active emotion, thus anticipating one of the key ideas of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis.[124]

According to Professor Eric Schliesser, Spinoza was skeptical regarding the possibility of knowledge of nature and as a consequence at odds with scientists like Galileo and Huygens.[125]

Causality[edit]

Though the principle of sufficient reason is most commonly associated with Gottfried Leibniz,[126] it is arguably found in its strongest form in Spinoza's philosophy.[127] Within the context of Spinoza's philosophical system, the principle can be understood to unify causation and explanation.[128] What this means is that for Spinoza, questions regarding the reason why a given phenomenon is the way it is (or exists) are always answerable, and are always answerable in terms of the relevant cause(s). This constitutes a rejection of teleological, or final causation, except possibly in a more restricted sense for human beings.[129][page needed][128] Given this, Spinoza's views regarding causality and modality begin to make much more sense.

Spinoza has also been described as an "Epicurean materialist",[92] specifically in reference to his opposition to Cartesian mind-body dualism. This view was held by Epicureans before him, as they believed that atoms with their probabilistic paths were the only substance that existed fundamentally.[130][131] Spinoza, however, deviated significantly from Epicureans by adhering to strict determinism, much like the Stoics before him, in contrast to the Epicurean belief in the probabilistic path of atoms, which is more in line with contemporary thought on quantum mechanics.[130][132]

The emotions[edit]

One thing which seems, on the surface, to distinguish Spinoza's view of the emotions from both Descartes' and Hume's pictures of them is that he takes the emotions to be cognitive in some important respect. Jonathan Bennett claims that "Spinoza mainly saw emotions as caused by cognitions. [However] he did not say this clearly enough and sometimes lost sight of it entirely."[133] Spinoza provides several demonstrations which purport to show truths about how human emotions work. The picture presented is, according to Bennett, "unflattering, coloured as it is by universal egoism".[134]

Ethical philosophy[edit]

Engraving of Spinoza, captioned in Latin, "A Jew and an atheist"; he vehemently denied being an atheist.

Spinoza's notion of blessedness figures centrally in his ethical philosophy. Spinoza writes that blessedness (or salvation or freedom), "consists, namely, in a constant and eternal love of God, or in God’s love for men.[135] Philosopher Jonathan Bennett interprets this as Spinoza wanting "'blessedness' to stand for the most elevated and desirable state one could possibly be in."[136] Understanding what is meant by "most elevated and desirable state" requires understanding Spinoza's notion of conatus (striving, but not necessarily with any teleological baggage)[citation needed] and that "perfection" refers not to (moral) value, but to completeness. Given that individuals are identified as mere modifications of the infinite Substance, it follows that no individual can ever be fully complete, i.e., perfect, or blessed. Absolute perfection, is, in Spinoza's thought, reserved solely for Substance. Nevertheless, modes can attain a lesser form of blessedness, namely, that of pure understanding of oneself as one really is, i.e., as a definite modification of Substance in a certain set of relationships with everything else in the universe. That this is what Spinoza has in mind can be seen at the end of the Ethics, in E5P24 and E5P25, where Spinoza makes two final key moves, unifying the metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical propositions he has developed over the course of the work. In E5P24, he links the understanding of particular things to the understanding of God, or Substance; in E5P25, the conatus of the mind is linked to the third kind of knowledge (Intuition). From here, it is a short step to the connection of Blessedness with the amor dei intellectualis ("intellectual love of God").[citation needed]

Tractatus Politicus (Political Treatise) (TP)[edit]

The title page of the Tractatus politicus in the Opera Posthuma.

This unfinished treatise in Latin expounds Spinoza's ideas about forms of government. As with the Ethics, this work was published posthumously by his circle of supporters in Latin and in Dutch. The subtitle is "In quo demonstratur, quomodo Societas, ubi Imperium Monarchicum locum habet, sicut et ea, ubi Optimi imperant, debet institui, ne in Tyrannidem labatur, et ut Pax, Libertasque civium inviolata maneat." ("In which it is demonstrated how a society, may it be a monarchy or an aristocracy, can be best governed, so as not to fall into tyranny, and so that the peace and liberty of the citizens remain unviolated").

Although Spinoza’s political and theological thought was radical on many ways, he held traditional views on the place of women. In the TP, he writes briefly on the last page of the TP that women were “naturally” subordinate to men, stating bluntly his women are “by nature” not by “institutional practice” subordinate to men. Both his major biographers in English remark on his view of women. Biographer Steven Nadler is clearly disappointed by Spinoza's only statement on women. “It is unfortunate that the very last words we have by him, at the end of the extant chapters of the Political Treatise, are a short digression … on the unsuitability of women to hold political power.”[137] Likewise Jonathan I. Israel says that Spinoza's views are “hugely disappointing to the modern reader” and that most that can be said in his defense is that “in his age rampant tyrannizing over women was indeed universal.” He goes on to say, "one may legitimately wonder why did Spinoza, if he was to be consistent, not apply his highly sceptical and innovative, for his time uniquely subversive, de-legtimizing general principle likewise to men's tyrannizing over women."[138] One scholar has attempted to rationalize Spinoza’s views excluding women from full citizenship.[139] But the topic has not attracted major consideration in Spinoza studies.

Pantheism[edit]

Spinoza was considered to be an atheist because he used the word "God" [Deus] to signify a concept that was different from that of traditional Judeo–Christian monotheism. "Spinoza expressly denies personality and consciousness to God; he has neither intelligence, feeling, nor will; he does not act according to purpose, but everything follows necessarily from his nature, according to law...."[140] Thus, Spinoza's cool, indifferent God differs from the concept of an anthropomorphic, fatherly God who cares about humanity.[141]

In 1785, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi published a condemnation of Spinoza's pantheism, after Gotthold Lessing was thought to have confessed on his deathbed to being a "Spinozist", which was the equivalent in his time of being called an atheist. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza's doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Moses Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that there is no actual difference between theism and pantheism. The issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time.

The attraction of Spinoza's philosophy to late 18th-century Europeans was that it provided an alternative to materialism, atheism, and deism. Three of Spinoza's ideas strongly appealed to them:

  • the unity of all that exists;
  • the regularity of all that happens;
  • the identity of spirit and nature.[142]

By 1879, Spinoza's pantheism was praised by many, but was considered by some to be alarming and dangerously inimical.[143]

Spinoza's "God or Nature" (Deus sive Natura) provided a living, natural God, in contrast to Isaac Newton's first cause argument and the dead mechanism of Julien Offray de La Mettrie's (1709–1751) work, Man a Machine (L'homme machine). Coleridge and Shelley saw in Spinoza's philosophy a religion of nature.[45] Novalis called him the "God-intoxicated man".[92][144] Spinoza inspired the poet Shelley to write his essay "The Necessity of Atheism".[92]

It is a widespread belief that Spinoza equated God with the material universe. He has therefore been called the "prophet"[145] and "prince"[146] and most eminent expounder of pantheism. More specifically, in a letter to Henry Oldenburg he states, "as to the view of certain people that I identify God with Nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken".[147] For Spinoza, the universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in the world.

According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883–1969), when Spinoza wrote Deus sive Natura (Latin for 'God or Nature'), Spinoza meant God was natura naturans (nature doing what nature does; literally, 'nature naturing'), not natura naturata (nature already created; literally, 'nature natured'). Jaspers believed that Spinoza, in his philosophical system, did not mean to say that God and Nature are interchangeable terms, but rather that God's transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God's immanence.[148] Even God under the attributes of thought and extension cannot be identified strictly with our world. That world is of course "divisible"; it has parts. But Spinoza said, "no attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided", meaning that one cannot conceive an attribute in a way that leads to division of substance. He also said, "a substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible" (Ethics, Part I, Propositions 12 and 13).[149] Following this logic, our world should be considered as a mode under two attributes of thought and extension. Therefore, according to Jaspers, the pantheist formula "One and All" would apply to Spinoza only if the "One" preserves its transcendence and the "All" were not interpreted as the totality of finite things.[148]

Martial Guéroult (1891–1976) suggested the term "panentheism", rather than "pantheism" to describe Spinoza's view of the relation between God and the world. The world is not God, but it is, in a strong sense, "in" God. Not only do finite things have God as their cause; they cannot be conceived without God.[149] However, American panentheist philosopher Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000) insisted on the term Classical Pantheism to describe Spinoza's view.[120]

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spinoza's God is an "infinite intellect" (Ethics 2p11c) — all knowing (2p3), and capable of loving both himself—and us, insofar as we are part of his perfection (5p35c). And if the mark of a personal being is that it is one towards which we can entertain personal attitudes, then we should note too that Spinoza recommends amor intellectualis dei (the intellectual love of God) as the supreme good for man (5p33). However, the matter is complex. Spinoza's God does not have free will (1p32c1), he does not have purposes or intentions (1 appendix), and Spinoza insists that "neither intellect nor will pertain to the nature of God" (1p17s1). Moreover, while we may love God, we need to remember that God is really not the kind of being who could ever love us back. "He who loves God cannot strive that God should love him in return", says Spinoza (5p19).[150]

Steven Nadler suggests that settling the question of Spinoza's atheism or pantheism depends on an analysis of attitudes. If pantheism is associated with religiosity, then Spinoza is not a pantheist, since Spinoza believes that the proper stance to take towards God is not one of reverence or religious awe, but instead one of objective study and reason, since taking the religious stance would leave one open to the possibility of error and superstition.[151]

Legacy[edit]

Spinoza's ideas have had a major impact on intellectual debates from the seventeenth century to the current era. His biographer Jonathan I. Israel contends that "No leading figure of the post-1750 later Enlightenment, for example, or the nineteenth century, was engaged with the philosophy of Descartes, Hobbes, Bayle, Locke, or Leibniz, to the degree leading figures such as Lessing, Goethe, Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Heine, George Eliot, and Nietzsche, remained preoccupied throughout their creative lives with Spinoza."[152] On the so-called Jewish question, Spinoza influenced Moses Mendelsohn and Kant, as well as on subsequent thinkers, including Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.[153] Hegel said, "The fact is that Spinoza is made a testing-point in modern philosophy, so that it may really be said: You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all."[154]

A Dutch commemorative coin issued on the 250th death anniversary of Spinoza, 1927

What draws readers to Spinoza and "makes him perhaps the most beloved philosopher since Socrates, is his confident equanimity". He is not a despairing nihilist, but rather Spinoza says that "blessedness is nothing else but the contentment of spirit, which arises from the intuitive knowledge of God."[155]

Similarities between Spinoza's philosophy and Eastern philosophical traditions have been discussed by many authors. The 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodor Goldstücker was one of the early figures to notice the similarities between Spinoza's religious conceptions and the Vedanta tradition of India, writing that Spinoza's thought was "... so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus, did his biography not satisfy us that he was wholly unacquainted with their doctrines..."[156][157] Max Müller also noted the striking similarities between Vedanta and the system of Spinoza, equating the Brahman in Vedanta to Spinoza's 'Substantia.'[158]

In 1886, the young George Santayana published "The Ethical Doctrine of Spinoza", in The Harvard Monthly.[159] Much later, he wrote an introduction to Spinoza's Ethics and "De Intellectus Emendatione".[160] In 1932, Santayana was invited to present an essay (published as "Ultimate Religion")[161] at a meeting at The Hague celebrating the tricentennial of Spinoza's birth. In Santayana's autobiography, he characterized Spinoza as his "master and model" in understanding the naturalistic basis of morality.[162]

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein evoked Spinoza with the title (suggested to him by G. E. Moore) of the English translation of his first definitive philosophical work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, an allusion to Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Elsewhere, Wittgenstein deliberately borrowed the expression sub specie aeternitatis from Spinoza (Notebooks, 1914–16, p. 83). The structure of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus does have some structural affinities with Spinoza's Ethics (though, admittedly, not with the Spinoza's Tractatus) in erecting complex philosophical arguments upon basic logical propositions and principles. In propositions 6.4311 and 6.45 he alludes to a Spinozian understanding of eternity and interpretation of the religious concept of eternal life, contending, "If by eternity is understood not eternal temporal duration, but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present." (6.4311) "The contemplation of the world sub specie aeterni is its contemplation as a limited whole." (6.45)

Spinoza's philosophy played an important role in the development of post-war French philosophy. Many of these philosophers "used Spinoza to erect a bulwark against the nominally irrationalist tendencies of phenomenology", which was associated with the dominance of Hegel, Martin Heidegger, and Edmund Husserl in France at that time.[163] Louis Althusser, as well as his colleagues such as Étienne Balibar, saw in Spinoza a philosophy which could lead Marxism out of what they considered to be flaws in its original formulation, particularly its reliance upon Hegel's conception of the dialectic, as well as Spinoza's concept of immanent causality. Antonio Negri, in exile in France for much of this period, also wrote a number of books on Spinoza, most notably The Savage Anomaly (1981) in his own reconfiguration of Italian Autonomia Operaia. Other notable French scholars of Spinoza in this period included Alexandre Matheron, Martial Gueroult, André Tosel, and Pierre Macherey, the last of whom published a widely read and influential five-volume commentary on Spinoza's Ethics, which has been described as "a monument of Spinoza commentary".[164] His philosophical accomplishments and moral character prompted Gilles Deleuze in his doctoral thesis (1968) to name him "the prince of philosophers".[165][166] Deleuze's interpretation of Spinoza's philosophy was highly influential among French philosophers, especially in restoring to prominence the political dimension of Spinoza's thought.[167] Deleuze published two books on Spinoza and gave numerous lectures on Spinoza in his capacity as a professor at the University of Paris VIII. His own work was deeply influenced by Spinoza's philosophy, particularly the concepts of immanence and univocity. Marilena de Souza Chaui described Deleuze's Expressionism in Philosophy (1968) as a "revolutionary work for its discovery of expression as a central concept in Spinoza's philosophy."[167]

Einstein 1921

Albert Einstein named Spinoza as the philosopher who exerted the most influence on his world view (Weltanschauung). Spinoza equated God (infinite substance) with Nature, consistent with Einstein's belief in an impersonal deity. In 1929, Einstein was asked in a telegram by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein whether he believed in God. Einstein responded by telegram: "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."[168][169] Einstein wrote the preface to a biography of Spinoza, published in 1946.[170]

Leo Strauss dedicated his first book, Spinoza's Critique of Religion, to an examination of his ideas. Strauss identified Spinoza as part of the tradition of Enlightenment rationalism that eventually produced Modernity. Moreover, he identifies Spinoza and his works as the beginning of Jewish Modernity.[92] More recently Jonathan Israel argued that, from 1650 to 1750, Spinoza was "the chief challenger of the fundamentals of revealed religion, received ideas, tradition, morality, and what was everywhere regarded, in absolutist and non-absolutist states alike, as divinely constituted political authority."[171]

Spinoza is an important historical figure in the Netherlands, where his portrait was featured prominently on the Dutch 1000-guilder banknote, legal tender until the euro was introduced in 2002. The highest and most prestigious scientific award of the Netherlands is named the Spinozaprijs (Spinoza prize). Spinoza was included in a 50 theme canon that attempts to summarise the history of the Netherlands.[172] In 2014 a copy of Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus was presented to the Chair of the Dutch Parliament, and shares a shelf with the Bible and the Quran.[173]

Modern era[edit]

Reconsideration of Spinoza's expulsion[edit]

There has been a renewed debate in modern times about Spinoza's excommunication among Israeli politicians, rabbis and Jewish press, with many calling for the cherem to be reversed.[174] A conference was organized at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York entitled "From Heretic to Hero: A Symposium on the Impact of Baruch Spinoza on the 350th Anniversary of His Excommunication, 1656-2006". Presenters included Steven Nadler, Jonathan I. Israel, Steven B. Smith, and Daniel B. Schwartz.[175] There have been calls for Spinoza's cherem to be rescinded, but it can only be done by the congregation that issued it, and the chief rabbi of that community,[d] Haham Pinchas Toledano, declined to do so, citing Spinoza's "preposterous ideas, where he was tearing apart the very fundamentals of our religion",[176] the Amsterdam Jewish community organised a symposium in December 2015 to discuss lifting the cherem, inviting scholars from around the world to form an advisory committee at the meeting. However, the rabbi of the congregation ruled that it should hold, on the basis that he had no greater wisdom than his predecessors, and that Spinoza's views had not become less problematic over time.[174]

Memory and memorials[edit]

Statue (2008) of Spinoza by Nicolas Dings, Amsterdam, Zwanenburgwal, with inscription "The objective of the state is freedom" (translation, quote from Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1677)
  • Spinoza Lyceum, a high school in Amsterdam South was named after Spinoza. There is also a 3 metre tall marble statute of him on the grounds of the school carved by Hildo Krop.[177]
  • The Spinoza Havurah (a Humanistic Jewish community) was named in Spinoza's honor.[178]
  • The Spinoza Foundation Monument has a statute of Spinoza located in front of the Amsterdam City Hall (at Zwanenburgwal) [179] It was created by Dutch sculptor Nicolas Dings and was erected in 2008.[180][181]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ However, Spinoza has also been interpreted as a defender of the coherence theory of truth.[3]
  2. ^ Baruch Spinoza is pronounced, in English, /bəˈrk spɪˈnzə/;[14] in Dutch, [baːˈrux spɪˈnoːzaː]; and, in Portuguese, [ðɨ ʃpiˈnɔzɐ]. He was born Bento (Portuguese) or Baruch (Hebrew) holding the family name Espinosa.[9] In most of the documents and records contemporary with Spinoza's years within the Jewish community, his name is given as the Portuguese Bento.[15][16][17] In Hebrew, without transliteration, his full name is written ברוך שפינוזה‎. His given name, Baruch/Bento, means "Blessed" in Hebrew and Portuguese respectively. Later, as an author and correspondent, he was known in Latin in which he wrote. Benedictus de Spinoza, was his preferred name also of his signature, with the first name sometimes anglicized as Benedict.
  3. ^ Steven Nadler speculates that Spinoza Latinized his name when he started to audit classes at the University of Leiden in 1659.[18]
  4. ^ Portugees-Israëlietische Gemeente te Amsterdam (Portuguese-Israelite commune of Amsterdam)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Melamed, Yitzhak Y., ed. (2015). The Young Spinoza: A Metaphysician in the Making. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-997168-8. Archived from the original on 1 January 2023.Chapter 7
  2. ^ Stefano Di Bella, Tad M. Schmaltz (eds.), The Problem of Universals in Early Modern Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2017, p. 64 "there is a strong case to be made that Spinoza was a conceptualist about universals..."
  3. ^ "The Coherence Theory of Truth (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)". Archived from the original on 1 November 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  4. ^ David, Marian (28 May 2015). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Correspondence theory of truth – The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved 14 May 2019 – via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  5. ^ Michael Della Rocca (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza, Oxford University Press, 2017, p. 288.
  6. ^ James Kreines, Reason in the World: Hegel's Metaphysics and Its Philosophical Appeal, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. 25: "Spinoza's foundationalism (Hegel argues) threatens to eliminate all determinate reality, leaving only one indeterminate substance."
  7. ^ "Spinoza's Psychological Theory". Spinoza's Psychological Theory – The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. 2022.
  8. ^ Yovel, Yirmiyahu (1992). Spinoza and Other Heretics: The Adventures of Immanence. Princeton University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0691020795.
  9. ^ a b c Nadler 1999, p. 45.
  10. ^ Nadler 1999, p. 119.
  11. ^ Nadler 1999, p. 64.
  12. ^ Nadler 1999, p. 65.
  13. ^ Steven Nadler, Spinoza and Medieval Jewish Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 27: "Spinoza attended lectures and anatomical dissections at the University of Leiden..."
  14. ^ "Spinoza". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  15. ^ Nadler 1999, p. 42.
  16. ^ a b c d e Nadler 2001, p. 1.
  17. ^ Nadler, Steven (2022), "Baruch Spinoza", in Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2022 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 20 November 2022
  18. ^ Nadler 1999, p. 163.
  19. ^ "Destroyer and Builder". The New Republic. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  20. ^ Nadler, Steven (16 April 2020). "Baruch Spinoza". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  21. ^ Dutton, Blake D. "Benedict De Spinoza (1632–1677)". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  22. ^ Israel 2023, pp. 322, 327–51.
  23. ^ Stewart 2007, p. 352.
  24. ^ Simkins, James (2014). "On the Development of Spinoza's Account of Human Religion". Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies. 5 (1).
  25. ^ Carlisle, Clare (2021). Spinoza's Religion. Princeton University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-691-17659-8.
  26. ^ Smith, Steven B. Spinoza, Liberalism, and the Question of Jewish Identity. New Haven: Yale University Press 1997, 2
  27. ^ Hübner, Karolina (2022), "Spinoza's Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind", in Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2022 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 4 April 2023
  28. ^ Goldstein, Rebecca, Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew who Gave Us Modernity. New York: Schocken 2009 ISBN 978-0805211597
  29. ^ Die Lebensgeschichte Spinozas. Zweite, stark erweiterte und vollständig neu kommentierte Auflage der Ausgabe von Jakob Freudenthal 1899. M. e. Bibliographie hg. v. Manfred Walther unter Mitarbeit v. Michael Czelinski. 2 Bde. Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: frommann-holzboog, 2006. (Specula 4,1 – 4,2.) Erläuterungen. p. 98, 119.
  30. ^ Rowland, Robert, "New Christian, Marrano, Jew" in The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West, 1450-1800, Paolo Bernardini and Norman Fiering, eds. New York: Berghahn Books 2001, 131-37
  31. ^ Israel, Spinoza 135
  32. ^ Israel, Spinoza, “Spinoza family tree”, figure 4.1, p. 84
  33. ^ Nadler 2001, p. 23.
  34. ^ Israel, Spinoza 90
  35. ^ Israel, Spinoza 159
  36. ^ Israel, Spinoza 135
  37. ^ Israel, Jonathan (2023). Spinoza: Life and Legacy. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 145-146. ISBN 9780198857488.
  38. ^ Nadler 1999, p. 47.
  39. ^ Nadler 1999, pp. 64–65.
  40. ^ a b c Scruton 2002, p. 21.
  41. ^ a b Nadler 2001, p. 25.
  42. ^ a b Nadler 2001, p. 27.
  43. ^ a b c Nadler 2001, p. 189.
  44. ^ Scruton 2002, p. 20.
  45. ^ a b c Gottlieb, Anthony (18 July 1999). "God Exists, Philosophically (review of Spinoza: A Life by Steven Nadler)". Books. The New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  46. ^ Okhovat, Oren, "Cosmopolitan Empire: Portuguese Jewish Merchants and Iberian Imperialism in the seventeenth-century Atlantic". PhD dissertation. University of Florida 2023.
  47. ^ Nadler 2001, pp. 17–22.
  48. ^ Israel 2023, p. 219.
  49. ^ Israel 2023, p. 74.
  50. ^ Curley, Edwin (31 March 2020). A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works. Princeton University Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-691-20928-9.
  51. ^ Touber, Jetze (21 June 2018). Spinoza and Biblical Philology in the Dutch Republic, 1660–1710. Oxford University Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-19-252718-9.
  52. ^ Nadler 2001, p. 2,7.
  53. ^ Steven B. Smith, Spinoza's book of life: freedom and redemption in the Ethics, Yale University Press (2003), p. xx: "Introduction."
  54. ^ Nadler 2001b.
  55. ^ Nadler 2001, p. 19.
  56. ^ Nadler 2001, p. 20.
  57. ^ Nadler 2001, pp. 19–21.
  58. ^ Nadler, Steven (Summer 2020). "Baruch Spinoza: God or Nature". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University. ISSN 1095-5054. OCLC 643092515. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 5 August 2021. In propositions one through fifteen of Part One, Spinoza presents the basic elements of his picture of God. God is the infinite, necessarily existing (that is, self-caused), unique substance of the universe. There is only one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else that is, is in God. [...] As soon as this preliminary conclusion has been established, Spinoza immediately reveals the objective of his attack. His definition of God—condemned since his excommunication from the Jewish community as a "God existing in only a philosophical sense"—is meant to preclude any anthropomorphizing of the divine being. In the scholium to proposition fifteen, he writes against "those who feign a God, like man, consisting of a body and a mind, and subject to passions. But how far they wander from the true knowledge of God, is sufficiently established by what has already been demonstrated." Besides being false, such an anthropomorphic conception of God standing as judge over us can have only deleterious effects on human freedom and activity, insofar as it fosters a life enslaved to hope and fear and the superstitions to which such emotions give rise.
  59. ^ Nadler 2001, p. 28.
  60. ^ a b c Scruton 2002, p. 22.
  61. ^ Spinoza's Biography Archived 26 September 2022 at the Wayback Machine in the Encyclopædia Britannica. 14 February 2018.
  62. ^ Kramer, Howard (17 July 2020). "HOME & GRAVESITE OF BARUCH SPINOZA – The Complete Pilgrim – Religious Travel Sites". The Complete Pilgrim. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  63. ^ Nadler 2011, p. 167.
  64. ^ "Ralph Dumain: "The Autodidact Project": "Spinoza, the First Secular Jew?" by Yirmiyahu Yovel".
  65. ^ Kirsch, Adam, "The Reticent Radical: Baruch Spinoza's quiet revolution". The New Yorker, February 12 & 19, 2024, 89-92
  66. ^ Steven Nadler, Spinoza and Medieval Jewish Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 27: "Spinoza attended lectures and anatomical dissections at the University of Leiden..."
  67. ^ Kirsch, "The Reticent Radical", p.92
  68. ^ "he [Spinoza] told me [Leibniz] he had a strong desire, on the day of the massacre of Mess. De Witt, to sally forth at night, and put up somewhere, near the place of the massacre, a paper with the words Ultimi barbarorum [ultimate barbarians]. But his host had shut the house to prevent his going out, for he would have run the risk of being torn to pieces." (A Refutation Recently Discovered of Spinoza by Leibnitz, "Remarks on the Unpublished Refutation of Spinoza by Leibnitz", Edinburg: Thomas Constable and Company, 1855. p. 70.
  69. ^ Nadler, Steven, A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press 2011.
  70. ^ a b Scruton 2002, p. 26.
  71. ^ Chauí 2001, pp. 30–31: "A commentary on Descartes' work, Principles of Cartesian Philosophy, only work published under his own name, brought him on an invitation to teach philosophy at the University of Heidelberg. Spinoza, however, refused, thinking that it might be demanded the renunciation of his freedom of thought, for the invite stipulated that all care should be taken to 'not insult the principles of the established religion'."
  72. ^ Popkin, Richard H., "Benedict de Spinoza" in The Columbia History of Western Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 1999), p. 381.
  73. ^ a b Lucas 1960.
  74. ^ Stewart 2007, p. [page needed].
  75. ^ Christiaan Huygens, Oeuvres complètes, Letter No. 1638, 11 May 1668
  76. ^ Christiaan Huygens, Oeuvres complètes, letter to his brother 23 September 1667
  77. ^ Nadler 1999, p. 215.
  78. ^ Nadler 2001, p. 183.
  79. ^ Christiaan Huygens, Oeuvres complètes, vol. XXII, p. 732, footnote
  80. ^ Theodore Kerckring, "Spicilegium Anatomicum" Observatio XCIII (1670)
  81. ^ Gullan-Whur, Within Reason: A Life of Spinoza 317-18
  82. ^ Israel, Spinoza (2023), 1150-51
  83. ^ Nadler, Spinoza, A Life (2018), 406
  84. ^ Israel, Spinoza, 1152-6, 1159
  85. ^ Colerus, Johannes, The Life of Benedict de Spinoza (London 1706)
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  88. ^ Jonathan Israel, "The Banning of Spinoza's Works in the Dutch Republic (1670–1678)", in: Wiep van Bunge and Wim Klever (eds.) Disguised and Overt Spinozism around 1700 (Leiden, 1996), pp. 3–14 (online Archived 28 September 2022 at the Wayback Machine).
  89. ^ P. TOTARO, "The Young Spinoza and the Vatican Manuscript of Spinoza's Ethics", in The Young Spinoza. A Metaphysician in the Making, ed. by Yitzhak Y. Melamed, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 319–332 at 321–2.
  90. ^ Ven, Jeroen van de. Printing Spinoza: A Descriptive Bibliography of the Works Published in the Seventeenth Century. Leiden; Brill, 2022.
  91. ^ Stewart 2007, p. 106.
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  93. ^ See G. Licata, "Spinoza e la cognitio universalis dell'ebraico. Demistificazione e speculazione grammaticale nel Compendio di grammatica ebraica", Giornale di Metafisica, 3 (2009), pp. 625–61.
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  98. ^ "Spinoza on Islam". 13 February 2012.
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  100. ^ Coyle, Patrick A. (1938). Some aspects of the philosophy of Spinoza and his ontological proof of the existence of God (PDF). University of Western Ontario, CA. p. 2. OCLC 1067012129. Retrieved 9 June 2021 – via University of Windsor, Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
  101. ^ Soley, W.R. (1 July 1880). "Jewish Mediaeval Philosophy in Spinoza". Mind. Oxford University Press. os–V (19): 362–384. doi:10.1093/mind/os-V.19.362. ISSN 0026-4423. JSTOR 2246395. OCLC 5545819846. other hand, the discovery and publication in 1862 of a lost treatise of Spinoza's—the Tractatus brtvia de Deo et homine ejusque felicitate"
  102. ^ Nadler, Book Forged in Hell, xi
  103. ^ Israel, Spinoza, Life & Legacy, 776
  104. ^ Scruton 2002, pp. 31–32.
  105. ^ Morgan, Michael L. (2002). Spinoza: Complete Works, with the Translation of Samuel Shirley. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-87220-620-5.
  106. ^ Della Rocca, Michael. (2008). Spinoza. Routledge., pg. 33.
  107. ^ Jaspers 1974, p. 9.
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  113. ^ a b Scruton 2002, p. 38
  114. ^ Spinoza presents not only an ontological proof for the existence of God but also three additional non-ontological proofs, which by some are seen as "both more convincing and more interesting than his ontological proof". See Lin, Martin. “Spinoza’s Arguments for the Existence of God.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 75, no. 2, Sept. 2007, pp. 269–297, DOI: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2007.00076.x. Accessed 15 Nov. 2020.
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  119. ^ Cannon, J. A. (2009, May 17). World in time of upheaval: Sources of enlightenment. Deseret News.
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  122. ^ Spinoza, Benedictus de; Curley, Edwin (1996). Ethics. Penguin classics (1st ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-14-043571-9.
  123. ^ Ethics, Pt. I, Prop. XXXVI, Appendix: "[M]en think themselves free inasmuch as they are conscious of their volitions and desires, and never even dream, in their ignorance, of the causes which have disposed of them so to wish and desire."
  124. ^ Scruton 2002, p. 86.
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  141. ^ "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." These words were spoken by Albert Einstein, upon being asked if he believed in God by Rabbi Herbert Goldstein of the Institutional Synagogue, New York, April 24, 1921, published in the New York Times, April 25, 1929; from Einstein: The Life and Times Ronald W. Clark, New York: World Publishing Co., 1971, p. 413; also cited as a telegram to a Jewish newspaper, 1929, Einstein Archive 33–272, from Alice Calaprice, ed., The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
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Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Biographies and reference works[edit]

  • Brenner-Golomb, Nancy. 2010. The Importance of Spinoza for the Modern Philosophy of Science. Frankfurt.
  • Buruma, Ian. 2024. Spinoza: Freedom's Messiah. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300248920
  • Carlisle, Clare. 2021. "Spinoza's Religion", Princeton University Press.
  • Della Rocca, Michael. 2008. Spinoza, New York: Routledge.
  • _____, (ed.), 2018. The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza. Oxford University Press.
  • Garrett, Don, ed., 1995. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza. Cambridge Uni. Press.
  • Gullan-Whur, Margaret. 2000. Within Reason: A Life of Spinoza. New York:St. Martin's Press.
  • Israel, Jonathan. 2023. Spinoza: Life and Legacy. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198857488
  • Koistinen, Olli, (ed.). 2009. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza's Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Popkin, R. H., 2004. Spinoza (Oxford: One World Publications)
  • Yovel, Yirmiyahu, Spinoza and Other Heretics, Vol. 1: The Marrano of Reason. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1989.
  • Yovel, Yirmiyahu, Spinoza and Other Heretics, Vol. 2: The Adventures of Immanence. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1989.

Other works[edit]

  • Damásio, António, 2003. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, Harvest Books, ISBN 978-0-15-602871-4
  • Deleuze, Gilles, 1968. Spinoza et le problème de l'expression. Trans. "Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza" Martin Joughin (New York: Zone Books).
  • _____, 1970. Spinoza: Philosophie pratique. Transl. "Spinoza: Practical Philosophy".
  • _____, 1990. Negotiations trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press).
  • Della Rocca, Michael. 1996. Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509562-3
  • Gatens, Moira, and Lloyd, Genevieve, 1999. Collective imaginings: Spinoza, past and present. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-16570-9, 978-0-415-16571-6
  • Goldstein, Rebecca, 2006. Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. Schocken. ISBN 978-0-8052-1159-7
  • Goode, Francis, 2012. Life of Spinoza. Smashwords edition. ISBN 978-1-4661-3399-0
  • Gullan-Whur, Margaret, 1998. Within Reason: A Life of Spinoza. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 978-0-224-05046-3
  • Hampshire, Stuart, 1951. Spinoza and Spinozism, OUP, 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-927954-8
  • Hardt, Michael, trans., University of Minnesota Press. Preface, in French, by Gilles Deleuze, available here: "01. Préface à L'Anomalie sauvage de Negri". Multitudes.samizdat.net. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  • Israel, Jonathan, 2001. The Radical Enlightenment, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • _____, 2006. Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670–1752, (ISBN 978-0-19-927922-7)
  • _____. 2002. “Philosophy, Commerce and the Synagogue: Spinoza’s Expulsion from the Amsterdam Portuguese Jewish Community in 1656.” In Dutch Jewry: Its History and Secular Culture (1500-2000). Edited by Jonathan Israel and Reinier Salverda, pp. 125-140. Leiden: Brill.
  • Ives, David (2009). New Jerusalem; The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, 27 July 1656. New York: Dramatists Play Service. ISBN 978-0-8222-2385-6.)
  • Kayser, Rudolf, 1946, with an introduction by Albert Einstein. Spinoza: Portrait of a Spiritual Hero. New York: The Philosophical Library.
  • Lloyd, Genevieve, 2018. Reclaiming wonder. After the sublime. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-1-4744-3311-2
  • LeBuffe, Michael. 2010. Spinoza and Human Freedom. Oxford University Press.
  • Lovejoy, Arthur O., 1936. "Plenitude and Sufficient Reason in Leibniz and Spinoza" in his The Great Chain of Being. Harvard University Press: 144–82 (ISBN 978-0-674-36153-9). Reprinted in Frankfurt, H. G., ed., 1972. Leibniz: A Collection of Critical Essays. Anchor Books.
  • Macherey, Pierre, 1977. Hegel ou Spinoza, Maspéro (2nd ed. La Découverte, 2004).
  • _____, 1994–98. Introduction à l'Ethique de Spinoza. Paris: PUF.
  • Magnusson 1990: Magnusson, M (ed.), Spinoza, Baruch, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, Chambers 1990, ISBN 978-0-550-16041-6.
  • Matheron, Alexandre, 1969. Individu et communauté chez Spinoza, Paris: Minuit.
  • Melamed, Yitzhak Y., Spinoza's Metaphysics: Substance and Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). xxii+232 pp.
  • Melamed, Yitzhak Y. (ed.), The Young Spinoza: A Metaphysician in the Making (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • Millner, Simon L., The Face of Benedictus Spinoza (New York: Machmadim Art Editions, Inc., 1946).
  • Montag, Warren, Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and his Contemporaries. (London: Verso, 2002).
  • Moreau, Pierre-François, 2003, Spinoza et le spinozisme, PUF (Presses Universitaires de France)
  • Nadler, Steven, Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die, 2020 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691183848).
  • Negri, Antonio, 1991. The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza's Metaphysics and Politics.
  • _____, 2004. Subversive Spinoza: (Un)Contemporary Variations.
  • Prokhovnik, Raia (2004). Spinoza and republicanism. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0333733905.
  • Ratner, Joseph, 1927. The Philosophy of Spinoza (The Modern Library: Random House)
  • Stolze, Ted and Warren Montag (eds.), The New Spinoza, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
  • Strauss, Leo. Persecution and the Art of Writing. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press, 1952. Reprint. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
  • _____ch. 5, "How to Study Spinoza's Tractus Theologico-Politicus;" reprinted in Strauss, Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, ed. Kenneth Hart Green (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1997), 181–233.
  • ____Spinoza's Critique of Religion. New York: Schocken Books, 1965. Reprint. University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • _____ "Preface to the English Translation" reprinted as "Preface to Spinoza's Critique of Religion", in Strauss, Liberalism Ancient and Modern (New York: Basic Books, 1968, 224–59; also in Strauss, Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, 137–77).
  • Valentiner, W.R., 1957. Rembrandt and Spinoza: A Study of the Spiritual Conflicts in Seventeenth-Century Holland, London: Phaidon Press.
  • Vinciguerra, Lorenzo Spinoza in French Philosophy Today. Philosophy Today Archived 7 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine, Vol. 53, No. 4, Winter 2009 Archived 7 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Van den Ven, Jeroen. Printing Spinoza: A Descriptive Bibliography of the Works Published in the Seventeenth Century. Leiden 2022.
  • _____. Documenting Spinoza: A Biographical History of his Life and Time. (forthcoming)
  • Williams, David Lay. 2010. "Spinoza and the General Will", The Journal of Politics, vol. 72 (April): 341–356.
  • Wolfson, Henry A. "The Philosophy of Spinoza". 2 vols. Harvard University Press.

External links[edit]

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