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Baruch de Spinoza or Benedictus de Spinoza [1] — — as a highly controversial, [2] [3] [4] influential and significant figure in the history of Western and Jewish thought [5] [6] — has been the subject of a vast amount of literature, including both philosophical and literary works in genres as diverse as fiction and nonfiction. His life and philosophy have long attracted the attention of multidisciplinary scholarship. Also, it was the 17th-century arch- rationalists like Spinoza along with Descartes and Leibniz who have given the " Age of Reason " its name and place in history.

The birth of two influential rationalistic philosophical systems of Descartes who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic in the period — and despite frequent moves, he wrote all his major work during his plus years in the United Provinces and Spinoza — namely Cartesianism and Spinozism — are among the most remarkable philosophical breakthroughs of Dutch Golden Age and early modern Western thought.

As Frederick C. Beiser noted, "The rise of Spinozism in the late eighteenth century is a phenomenon of no less significance than the emergence of Kantianism itself. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Spinoza's philosophy had become the main competitor to Kant 's, and only Spinoza had as many admirers or adherents as Kant. Spinoza's French school and the supporters of deism were but two sects disputing over the true meaning of his system Of all the generally acknowledged great philosophers in history, Spinoza is among the least accessible authors and among the most puzzling to read, understand and interpret.

In the history of Western thought, two well-known and highly significant Spinoza revivals include German-inspired Neo-Spinozism of approximately the late 18th and early 19th centuries [11] [50] [43] and French-inspired Neo-Spinozism of approximately the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

There may be no philosopher in history with the possible exceptions of Socrates and Nietzsche who has received greater attention in artistic, literary and popular culture than Bento Benedictus de Spinoza — His life, ideas and influence have been the subject of numerous novels, plays, poems, paintings, sculptures, even musical pieces and opera.

Spinoza was the most radical and iconoclastic thinker of his time. His ideas on religion, politics, ethics, human psychology and metaphysics, presented in difficult and sometimes mystifying treatises, lay the groundwork for much of what we now regard as "modern.

Everyone loves a rebel—especially one whose values they likely share and whom, they feel, was unjustly punished by those in power. For many, Spinoza is not only a pure philosophical author but also a unique source of literary inspiration, who—despite his notoriously difficult thought, highly abstract concepts, highly complex doctrines, [54] highly rigid writing style, dry personality and intensely private life—has greatly influenced so many prominent literary writers, particularly poets and fiction authors.

Beyond philosophy, Spinoza was one of few philosophers who exerts a profound influence on many notable literary writers i. Wodehouse , William Wordsworth , Irvin D. Yalom , and Louis Zukofsky. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Antonio Damasio: " And how fitting it all is.

Spinoza's God was neither Jewish nor Christian. Spinoza's God was everywhere, could not be spoken to, did not respond if prayed to, was very much in every particle of the universe, without beginning and without end.

Buried and unburied, Jewish and not. Portuguese but not really, Dutch but not quite, Spinoza belonged nowhere and everywhere. Retrieved 29 January In own words of Daniel Barenboim a fervent Spinozist , "Hardly any other philosopher made so many enemies. The Guardian www. Retrieved 19 April Clare Carlisle : "[H]e was not a professional scholar — he earned his modest living as a lens grinder.

So, unlike many thinkers of his time, he was unconstrained by allegiance to a church, university or royal court. He was free to be faithful to the pursuit of truth. This gives his philosophy a remarkable originality and intellectual purity — and it also led to controversy and charges of heresy. Before the transition from the Cartesian to the Leibnizian philosophy could occur, it was necessary for someone to take the plunge into the monstrous abyss lying between them.

This unhappy lot fell to Spinoza. How his fate is to be pitied! He was a sacrifice for the human intellect, but one that deserves to be decorated with flowers. Without him, philosophy would never have been able to extend its borders so far. It is therefore worthy of note that thought must begin by placing itself at the standpoint of Spinozism; to be a follower of Spinoza is the essential commencement of all Philosophy.

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. It is unquestionably the peacefulness and calm of the Spinozist system which particularly produces the idea of its depth, and which, with hidden but irresistible charm, has attracted so many minds.

The Spinozist system will also always remain in a certain sense a model. A system of freedom — but with just as great contours, with the same simplicity, as a perfect counter-image Gegenbild of the Spinozist system — this would really be the highest system. This is why Spinozism, despite the many attacks on it, and the many supposed refutations, has never really become something truly past, never been really overcome up to now, and no one can hope to progress to the true and the complete in philosophy who has not at least once in his life lost himself in the abyss of Spinozism.

He is great because of the sublime simplicity of his thoughts and his way of writing, great because of his distance from all scholasticism, and, on the other hand, from all false embellishment or ostentation of language. We must mention the providential man who, at the same time as Locke and Leibnitz , had educated himself in the school of Descartes, had for a long time been viewed only with scorn and hatred, and who nevertheless today is rising to exclusive supremacy in the world of intellect.

I am speaking about Benedict Spinoza. One great genius shapes himself by means of another, less through assimilation than through friction. Kant is erroneously viewed as the founder of German philosophy, and an ingenious poet-philosopher, Heinrich Heine, has even drawn a parallel between the different phases of the French Revolution and those of German philosophy, putting next to each other as analogous phenomena Kant and Robespierre , Fichte and Napoleon , Schelling and the Restoration, Hegel and the July [] Revolution.

But the true founder of German philosophy - if one wishes to name a personal representative for the spirit of the age [Zeitgeist] - is none other than [the thinker] whose world view lies equally at the foundation of French social philosophy - Spinoza; and as far as Heine's analogy goes, it is only Kant and Robespierre, i.

A brave and simple man, earnestly meditating on the deepest subjects that can occupy the human race, he produced a system which will ever remain as one of the most astounding efforts of abstract speculation — a system that has been decried, for nearly two centuries, as the most iniquitous and blasphemous of human invention; and which has now, within the last sixty years, become the acknowledged parent of a whole nation's philosophy , ranking among its admirers some of the most pious and illustrious intellects of the age.

We may deny his conclusions; we may consider his system of thought preposterous and even pernicious, but we cannot refuse him the respect which is the right of all sincere and honourable men. His short life—a life of unbroken diligence, kindliness, and purity—was passed in seclusion. But in spite of that seclusion, in spite of the shortness of his career, in spite of the hostility of the dispensers of renown in the 18th century,—of Voltaire 's disparagement and Bayle 's detraction,—in spite of the repellent form which he has given to his principal work, in spite of the exterior semblance of a rigid dogmatism alien to the most essential tendencies of modern philosophy, in spite, finally, of the immense weight of disfavour cast upon him by the long-repeated charge of atheism, Spinoza's name has silently risen in importance, the man and his work have attracted a steadily increasing notice, and bid fair to become soon what they deserve to become,—in the history of modern philosophy the central point of interest.

They [the Jews] have had the most painful history of all peoples, not without the fault of all of us, and when one owes to them the noblest man Christ , the purest sage Spinoza , the most powerful book, and the most effective moral law in the world. It is to the highest credit of the philosophy of the time that it did not let itself be led astray by the restricted state of contemporary natural knowledge, and that — from Spinoza down to the great French materialists — it insisted on explaining the world from the world itself and left the justification in detail to the natural science of the future.

Lately I have been re-reading Spinoza much read and little understood in my youth. But that noblest of Jews must have planted no end of germs in my brains, for I see that what I have to say is in principle what he had to say, in modern language. Neutrality toward Spinoza set in once one was able to admit that the "modern worldview," whose victory was decisively aided by Spinoza's metaphysics, does not, or does not entirely, coincide with this metaphysics.

But even at this stage it was still generally maintained, and even emphasized, that among the three great Western philosophers of the seventeenth century — Descartes, Hobbes , and Spinoza — Spinoza was the most important one because, he was the most progressive one.

He alone had drawn certain consequences from the foundations of modern philosophy, which became fully clarified only in the nineteenth century and which henceforth determined the general consciousness. Modern Judaism is a synthesis between rabbinical Judaism and Spinoza. Spinoza's philosophy introduced an unprecedented theoretical revolution in the history of philosophy, probably the greatest philosophical revolution of all time, insofar as we can regard Spinoza as Marx's only direct ancestor, from the philosophical standpoint.

I consider myself a Spinozist, rather than a Leibnizian, although I owe a lot to Leibniz. In the book I'm writing at the moment, ' What is Philosophy? Can he even be considered a Jew? Benedictus Spinoza is the greatest philosopher that the Jews ever produced, which adds a certain irony to his questionable Jewishness.

After expending a recent month in constantly rereading Spinoza, I find myself ambivalent toward this grandest of Jewish secular philosophers. Wittgenstein was uneasily aware of his Jewish lineage, and reticent about it.

Read his "Ethics": it will illuminate you, but through light without heat. What can be said is that Spinoza is, without question, one of history's most eloquent proponents of a secular, democratic society and the strongest advocate for freedom and toleration in the early modern period.

Forster : "Just as Herder 's cosmopolitanism allowed him to become very sympathetic to Judaism as a religion and cultural tradition, so it also allowed him to become a great admirer of the most important Jewish philosopher of the modern period: Spinoza.

As is well known, Herder's appropriation and modification of the metaphysical monism of Spinoza's Ethics in God: Some Conversations played a central role in generating the forms of neo-Spinozistic metaphysical monism that later dominated German Idealism and German Romanticism.

Its initiators were Germans and it appeared as a Sonderausgabe of a German newspaper. Spinoza had nothing in common with the German nation. The Germans, however, were the first to manifest serious interest in him.

Their first great philosopher Leibniz went to seek his advice and his counsel; they were the only ones to invite him to lecture at their university. Even though Leibniz concealed him from the world, the Germans revealed him to the world. The generation of their greatest philosophers and poets from the second half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries grew up under his influence. Goethe read him together with Charlotte von Stein , and even read him together with her in Latin.

To Hegel, Spinoza was "der Mittelpunkt der modernen Philosophie". It is true that Bayle attempts to refute Spinoza though some have doubted the sincerity of his intentions but unlikely that so much space would be dedicated to refuting a neglected philosopher—unlikely, indeed, that Spinoza's relevance would wane once this high-profile entry had been published about him. Zedler 's Grosses Universal Lexikon —54 gives a similar impression, devoting to Spinoza a five-page discussion.

Descartes, by comparison, is discussed in one page. Hume, Locke, Hobbes, and Plato are equally dealt with in one page or less each. Diderot and J. The attention they devoted to Spinoza ensured him a place at the heart of Enlightenment debate. It would be impossible for any educated reader to avoid contact with Spinoza's ideas.

It would be easy for every metaphysician to get a grasp on the system of the Ethics. And it would be tempting, for every philosophically inclined thinker, to read Spinoza for themselves. Melamed: " Spinoza's teachings were already known outside of Holland during the final years of his life [approximately in his late 30s to early 40s]. So fast did his fame spread that at a time when no Jew could occupy an academic position in Central and Western Europe he was invited to fill the chair of philosophy in the University of Heidelberg [], one of the most important seats of learning of the time in Germany.

Note that in his book Story of Philosophy , Will Durant called Spinoza "the greatest of modern philosophers,". Retrieved 11 January


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