Eric Walten

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Eric Walten (1663–1697) was a Dutch Enlightenment thinker and pamphleteer, notably accused of blasphemy and of secretly following the philosophical thinking of Benedict Spinoza in the 1690s.

Little information survives of Walten's life. He told the court that he was born in Ham, Munsterland, now in Germany. The Dutch scholar Wiep van Bunge suggests that Walten may have been of English descent. He lived in Utrecht until 1685, and from 1688 in The Hague and Rotterdam.[1]

Though influenced by such iconic Enlightenment writers as Descartes and Spinoza in his philosophical thought, Walten denied the latter as his primary political influence and professed to admire Juan de Mariana as the greatest writer on the powers and responsibilities of kings. He was one of the most ardent defenders of the Glorious Revolution, justifying the expedition of William of Orange to England in many pamphlets.[1][2]

Walten's fate as a controversialist was sealed when his vigorous defense of Balthasar Bekker against the various accusations against him invited a legal prosecution on blasphemy charges against himself. Most damagingly, he had called the Reformed Synod a lunatic asylum ('Een Sothuys van de gekken') for its attack against Bekker. Walten died in prison, probably by suicide, while awaiting trial.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b c Bunge, Wiep van (1996). "Eric Walten (1663-1697): An Early Enlightenment Radical in the Dutch Republic". In Wiep van Bunge and Wim Klever (Eds.), Disguised and Overt Spinozism Around 1700: Papers Presented at the International Colloquium, Held at Rotterdam, 5–8 October 1994 (pp. 41-54). Leiden, New York, and Köln: BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-10307-8.
  2. ^ Gelderen, Martin van (2007). "In Defense of William III: Eric Walten and the Glorious Revolution". In Esther Mijers and David Onnekink (Eds.), Redefining William III: The Impact of the King-Stadholder in International Context (pp. 143-158). London: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-5028-7.
  3. ^ Wiep van Bungen, Spinoza Past and Present: Essays on Spinoza, Spinozism, and Spinoza Scholarship, BRILL, 2012, p. 150