Baruch Spinoza – Biography of Baruch Spinoza

Baruch spinoza, latinized Benedict of Spinoza (1632-1677) was a Dutch-Jewish philosopher whose work played a dominant role in the formation of modern Western thought. By rejecting the mind-body realism of Descartes and the traditional presentation of God in the Jewish and Christian traditions, Spinoza it paved the way for modern rationalism. The importance of his work, however, was appreciated only after his untimely death.

Baruch spinoza he was born in 1632 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; He was the second son of Miguel de Espinoza and his second wife Ana Debora. His father was a prosperous merchant of Portuguese Jewish origin. The young man Spinoza He was raised in the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam, which had grown long after the Spanish decree of the Alhambra (1492) and the Portuguese Inquisition (1536), which resulted in forced conversions to Christianity and expulsions from Spain and Portugal. Many Sephardic Jews, including so-called “converts”, migrated to the Netherlands, especially after the Decree of Tolerance that was issued in 1579. There, they reconverted to Judaism and built the first synagogue in 1598.

The young man Spinoza he was undoubtedly influenced by the Jewish community in Amsterdam. He was educated as a Jew and attended the yeshiva (a Jewish educational institution focused on the study of religious texts). He learned from the traditional Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira as well as the less traditional Manasseh ben Israel better known for having founded the first Hebrew printing press in the capital Durch. For some reason, the young man Spinoza he never got to advanced Torah study. At the age of 17, he left formal education and began working in the family business, probably influenced by the death of his older brother Isaac, that same year.

At age 20, Spinoza began to study Latin. He was tutored by Franciscus Van den Enden, a Jesuit famous for his secular thinking. It is believed that van den Enden made a great impression on Spinoza and that probably introduced him to the concepts of scholasticism and to the first modern philosophers like Descartes. After the death of his father a year later (1654), he took over the family business with his younger brother Abraham. At the same time, it adopted its Latinized name Spinoza’s Benedictus and began teaching at the Van den Enden school. It is speculated that he was in love with Van den Enden’s daughter named Clara, who nevertheless rejected him.

He came into contact with anti-clerical Christian groups who opposed traditional dogmas and the authority of the church. His radical Christian friends, who questioned religious authorities and his teacher Van den Enden, introduced him to modern philosophy. Spinoza he supposedly said that God had a body and that there was nothing in the sacred texts to say otherwise. In 1656, the Talmud Torah congregation issued an opinion against Spinoza for which he was expelled from the Jewish community. However, he did not convert to Christianity although he was close to the Christian Collegiants sect and was buried in a Christian cemetery. According to Yitzhak Melamed, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, Spinoza was the first modern secular European Jew.

At the time the ruling against him was issued, his family business ran into serious financial difficulties. He left the business and his debts to his younger brother and devoted himself to philosophy and optics for the remaining 21 years of his life.

Shortly after the publication of the cherem, the Amsterdam authorities responded to the rabbis’ concerns and expelled him from the city. He moved to the nearby village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, but soon returned to Amsterdam and stayed there until 1660 or 1661, earning a living polishing glasses and giving private philosophy classes. During this period, he also wrote his first philosophical work entitled “Short treatise on God, man and their well-being“In 1660 or 1661, he moved to Rijnsburg where he wrote”Cartesian Philosophy Principle“(published in 1663). There he also began to work on his greatest masterpiece”Ethics“which was published only after his death.

In 1663, Spinoza he moved to Voorburg where he continued working on “Ethics“as well as other works. In 1670 he published the”Theological political treatise“, in which he supported Jan de Witt, the Grand Pensioner of Holland against William II, Prince of Orange as Stadtholder of Holland, who later became William III of England. According to Leibnitz, Spinoza he seriously committed his life supporting Witt. Even though he posted the “Theological Political Treatise“Anonymously, the authorship was soon revealed. The Synod of the Reformed Church condemned the work in 1673 and officially banned it a year later.

In 1770, Spinoza He left Voorburg and moved to The Hague, where he spent the last years of his life living on a small pension and annuity from his dead friend’s brother. He continued to work on “Ethics”, but also wrote (unfinished) Hebrew grammar, scientific essays “Over the rainbow” Y “On the calculation of the possibilities“and began a Dutch translation of the Bible, which he later abandoned and destroyed.

Spinoza fell ill in 1776 and died a year later, at the age of 45. The cause of his death is not exactly clear. It is said that he died of a lung disease that could have been related to inhaling glass dust while in contact with the lenses. He never married and had no children.