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Baruch Spinoza

Snippet from Wikipedia: Baruch Spinoza

Baruch (de) Spinoza (24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677), also known under his Latinized pen name Benedictus de Spinoza, was a philosopher of Portuguese-Jewish origin. As a forerunner of the Age of Enlightenment, Spinoza significantly influenced modern biblical criticism, 17th-century rationalism, and Dutch intellectual culture, establishing himself as one of the most important and radical philosophers of the early modern period. Influenced by Stoicism, Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes, Ibn Tufayl, and heterodox Christians, Spinoza was a leading philosopher of the Dutch Golden Age.

Spinoza was born in Amsterdam to a Marrano family that fled Portugal for the more tolerant Dutch Republic. He received a traditional Jewish education, learning Hebrew and studying sacred texts within the Portuguese Jewish community, where his father was a prominent merchant. As a young man, Spinoza challenged rabbinic authority and questioned Jewish doctrines, leading to his permanent expulsion from the Jewish community in 1656. Following his excommunication, he distanced himself from all religious affiliations and devoted himself to philosophical inquiry and lens grinding. Spinoza attracted a dedicated circle of followers who gathered to discuss his writings and joined him in the intellectual pursuit of truth.

Spinoza published little to avoid persecution and bans on his books. In his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, described by Steven Nadler as "one of the most important books of Western thought", Spinoza questioned the divine origin of the Hebrew Bible and the nature of God while arguing that ecclesiastic authority should have no role in a secular, democratic state. Ethics argues for a pantheistic view of God and explores the place of human freedom in a world devoid of theological, cosmological, and political moorings. Rejecting messianism and the emphasis on the afterlife, Spinoza emphasized appreciating and valuing life for ourselves and others. By advocating for individual liberty in its moral, psychological, and metaphysical dimensions, Spinoza helped establish the genre of political writing called secular theology.

Spinoza's philosophy spans nearly every area of philosophical discourse, including metaphysics, epistemology, political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. His friends posthumously published his works, captivating philosophers for the next two centuries. Celebrated as one of the most original and influential thinkers of the seventeenth century, Rebecca Goldstein dubbed him "the renegade Jew who gave us modernity."

glossary/baruch_spinoza.txt · Last modified: 2010/12/28 14:29 by selfthinker