56 Facts About Spinoza


Baruch Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish origin.

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Spinoza's given name, which means "Blessed", varies among different languages.

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Spinoza was frequently called an "atheist" by contemporaries, although nowhere in his work does Spinoza argue against the existence of God.

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Spinoza lived an outwardly simple life as an optical lens grinder, collaborating on microscope and telescope lens designs with Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens.

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Spinoza turned down rewards and honours throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions.

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Spinoza died at the age of 44 in 1677 from a lung illness, perhaps tuberculosis or silicosis exacerbated by the inhalation of fine glass dust while grinding lenses.

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Spinoza is buried in the Christian churchyard of Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague.

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Spinoza's philosophy encompasses nearly every area of philosophical discourse, including metaphysics, epistemology, political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science.

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Spinoza's philosophy is largely contained in two books: the Theologico-Political Treatise, and the Ethics.

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Spinoza was the second son of Miguel de Espinoza, a successful, although not wealthy, Portuguese Sephardic Jewish merchant in Amsterdam.

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Spinoza had a traditional Jewish upbringing, attending the Keter Torah yeshiva of the Amsterdam Talmud Torah congregation headed by the learned and traditional senior Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira.

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Spinoza's teachers included the less traditional Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel.

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However, Spinoza never reached the advanced study of the Torah, dropping out at the age of 17 in order to work in the family importing business after the death of his elder brother, Isaac.

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Spinoza duly recited Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning, for eleven months as required by Jewish law.

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Some time between 1654 and 1658, Spinoza began to study Latin with Franciscus van den Enden.

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Spinoza adopted the Latin name Benedictus de Spinoza, began boarding with Van den Enden, and began teaching in his school.

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For example, questioned by two members of his synagogue, Spinoza apparently responded that God has a body and nothing in scripture says otherwise.

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The language of Spinoza's censure is unusually harsh and does not appear in any other censure known to have been issued by the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam.

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In those works, Spinoza denies the immortality of the soul; strongly rejects the notion of a providential God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and claims that the Law was neither literally given by God nor any longer binding on Jews.

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Third, it appears likely that Spinoza had already taken the initiative to separate himself from the Talmud Torah congregation and was vocally expressing his hostility to Judaism itself, through his philosophical works, such as the Part I of Ethics.

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Spinoza had probably stopped attending services at the synagogue, either after the lawsuit with his sister or after the knife attack on its steps.

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Spinoza had committed the "monstrous deed", contrary to the regulations of the synagogue and the views of some rabbinical authorities, of filing suit in a civil court rather than with the synagogue authorities—to renounce his father's heritage, no less.

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Spinoza kept the Latin name Benedict de Spinoza, maintained a close association with the Collegiants and Quakers, even moved to a town near the Collegiants' headquarters, and was buried at the Protestant Church, Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague.

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Spinoza spent his remaining 21 years writing and studying as a private scholar.

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Spinoza spent a brief time in or near the village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, but 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.

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In 1660 or 1661, Spinoza moved from Amsterdam to Rijnsburg, the headquarters of the Collegiants.

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In Voorburg, Spinoza continued work on the Ethics and corresponded with scientists, philosophers, and theologians throughout Europe.

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Leibniz visited Spinoza and claimed that Spinoza's life was in danger when supporters of the Prince of Orange murdered de Witt in 1672.

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Spinoza was known for making not just lenses but telescopes and microscopes.

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The quality of Spinoza's lenses was much praised by Christiaan Huygens, among others.

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Spinoza was said by anatomist Theodor Kerckring to have produced an "excellent" microscope, the quality of which was the foundation of Kerckring's anatomy claims.

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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.

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Spinoza corresponded with Peter Serrarius, a radical Protestant and millenarian merchant.

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Early in The Ethics Spinoza argues that there is only one substance, which is absolutely infinite, self-caused, and eternal.

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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.

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Spinoza believed that God is "the sum of the natural and physical laws of the universe and certainly not an individual entity or creator".

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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 be possessed by God.

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Spinoza argues that "things could not have been produced by God in any other way or in any other order than is the case".

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Spinoza has been described as an "Epicurean materialist", specifically in reference to his opposition to Cartesian mind-body dualism.

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Spinoza 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.

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That this is what Spinoza has in mind can be seen at the end of the Ethics, in E5P24 and E5P25, wherein Spinoza makes two final key moves, unifying the metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical propositions he has developed over the course of the work.

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Later in 1665, Spinoza notified Oldenburg that he had started to work on a new book, the Theologico-Political Treatise, published in 1670.

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Spinoza stated that both religions are made "to deceive the people and to constrain the minds of men".

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Jacobi claimed that Spinoza's doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance.

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Spinoza inspired the poet Shelley to write his essay "The Necessity of Atheism".

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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.

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Spinoza has therefore been called the "prophet" and "prince" and most eminent expounder of pantheism.

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For Spinoza, the universe is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension.

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Spinoza said, "a substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible" .

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Spinoza's philosophy played an important role in the development of post-war French philosophy.

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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.

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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.

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Deleuze published two books on Spinoza and gave numerous lectures on Spinoza in his capacity as a professor at the University of Paris VIII.

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Spinoza equated God with Nature, consistent with Einstein's belief in an impersonal deity.

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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.

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Spinoza was included in a 50 theme canon that attempts to summarise the history of the Netherlands.

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