Who was Spinoza?

spinoza_color[1].gif

Baruch Spinoza  was born in Benedito de Espinosa, Portugal (24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677). Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher of Sephardi/Portuguese origin. By laying the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and the universe, he came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy.

Spinoza's magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, in which he opposed Descartes' mind–body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy's most important thinkers. In the Ethics, "Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely." Hegel said, "You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all." His philosophical accomplishments and moral character prompted 20th-century philosopher Gilles Deleuze to name him "the 'prince' of philosophers".

Spinoza's given name varies among different languages: Hebrew: ברוךשפינוזה Baruch Spinoza, Portuguese: Benedito or Bento de Espinosa and Latin: Benedictus de Spinoza; in all these languages, the given name or its etymology means "Blessed". Spinoza was raised in the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam. He developed highly controversial ideas regarding the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible and the nature of the Divine. The Jewish religious authorities issued a cherem, a kind of ban, shunning, ostracism, expulsion, or excommunication against him, effectively excluding him from Jewish society at age 23. His books were also later put on the Catholic Church's Index of Forbidden Books.

Spinoza lived an outwardly simple life as a lens grinder, turning down rewards and honours throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions. He died at the age of 44 allegedly of a lung illness, perhaps tuberculosis or silicosis exacerbated by fine glass dust inhaled while grinding optical lenses. He is buried in the churchyard of the Christian Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague.

   

Map by Balthasar Florisz van Berckenrode            Study room of Spinoza
(1625) with the present location of the Moses 
and Aaron church in white, but also the spot 
where Spinoza grew up.

Data source: Wikipedia


<< back to overview news items