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Baruch de Spinoza
Full name Baruch de Spinoza
Born November 24, 1632(1632-11-24)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died February 21, 1677 (aged 44)
The Hague, Netherlands
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Rationalism, founder of Spinozism
Main interests Ethics, Epistemology, Metaphysics
Notable ideas Panentheism, Pantheism, Deism, neutral monism, intellectual and religious freedom / separation of church and state, Criticism of Mosaic authorship of some books of the Hebrew Bible, Political society derived from power, not contract

Baruch or Benedict de Spinoza (Hebrew: ברוך שפינוזה‎, Portuguese: Bento de Espinosa, Latin: Benedictus de Spinoza) (November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin.[1] Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists[2] of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment[2] and modern biblical criticism.[2] By virtue of his magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, in which he opposed Descartes' mind–body dualism, Spinoza is considered to be one of Western philosophy's most important philosophers. Philosopher and historian Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said of all modern philosophers, "You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all."[3]

Though Spinoza was active in the Dutch Jewish community and extremely well-versed in Jewish texts, his controversial ideas eventually led community leaders to issue a cherem (Hebrew: חרם, a kind of excommunication) against him, effectively dismissing him from Jewish society at age 23.[1][2] Likewise, all of Spinoza's works were listed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) by the Roman Catholic Church.

Spinoza lived quietly as a lens grinder, turning down rewards and honors throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions, and gave his family inheritance to his sister. Spinoza's moral character and philosophical accomplishments prompted 20th century philosopher Gilles Deleuze to name him "the 'prince' of philosophers."[4] Spinoza died at the age of 44 of a lung illness, perhaps tuberculosis or silicosis exacerbated by fine glass dust inhaled while plying his trade. Spinoza is buried in the churchyard of the Nieuwe Kerk on Spui in The Hague.

Contents

Biography

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Family origins

Spinoza's ancestors were of Sephardic Jewish descent, and were a part of the community of Portuguese Jews that grew in the city of Amsterdam after the Alhambra Decree in Spain (1492) and the Portuguese Inquisition (1536) had led to forced conversions and expulsions from the Iberian peninsula.[5]

Some historians argue the Spinoza family ("Espinosa" in Portuguese) had its origins in Espinosa de los Monteros, near Burgos, Spain.[6] Others claim they were Portuguese Jews who had moved to Spain and then returned to their home country in 1492, only to be forcibly converted to Catholicism in 1498. Spinoza's father was born roughly a century after this forced conversion in the small Portuguese city of Vidigueira, near Beja in Alentejo. When Spinoza's father was still a child, Spinoza's grandfather, Isaac de Spinoza (who was from Lisbon), took his family to Nantes in France. They were expelled in 1615 and moved to Rotterdam, where Isaac died in 1627. Spinoza's father, Miguel, and his uncle, Manuel, then moved to Amsterdam where they reassumed their Judaism. Manuel changed his name to Abraão de Spinoza, though his "commercial" name was still the same.[citation needed]

Early life and career

Baruch Spinoza was born in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. His mother Ana Débora, Miguel's second wife, died when Baruch was only six years old. Miguel was a successful importer/merchant and Baruch had a traditional Jewish upbringing; however, his critical, curious nature would soon come into conflict with the Jewish community. Wars with England and France took the life of his father and decimated his family's fortune but he was eventually able to relinquish responsibility for the business and its debts to his brother, Gabriel, and devote himself to philosophy and optics.

Controversial ideas and Jewish reaction

Spinoza became known in the Jewish community for positions contrary to prevailing Jewish belief of the period, wherein he harbored critical positions towards the anti-maimonidean dominance of Jewish religious texts that persisted since the Maimonidean Controversy.[7] On 27 July 1656, the Jewish community issued to him the writ of cherem (Hebrew: חרם, a kind of excommunication). Righteous indignation on the part of the synagogue elders at Spinoza's heresies was not the sole cause for the excommunication; there was also the practical concern that his ideas, which disagree equally well with the orthodoxies of other religions as with Judaism, would not sit well with the Christian leaders of Amsterdam and would reflect badly on the whole Jewish community, endangering the limited freedoms that the Jews had achieved in that city. The terms of his cherem were severe.[8] He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, "cursed with all the curses in Deuteronomy and with the curse that Elisha pronounced on the children who, in consequence, were torn to pieces by the she-bears."[9] The cherem was, atypically, never revoked. Following his excommunication, he adopted the first name Benedictus, the Latin equivalent of his given name, Baruch; they both mean "blessed". In his native Amsterdam he was also known as Bento (Portuguese for Benedict or blessed) de Spinoza, which was the informal form of his name.

The Ban

The ban, written in Portuguese, is still preserved in the archives of the Amsterdam community. The pronouncement preceding the ban reads:

The chiefs of the council make known to you that having long known of evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Spinoza, they have endeavored by various means and promises to turn him from evil ways. Not being able to find any remedy, but on the contrary receiving every day more information about the abominable heresies practiced and taught by him, and about the monstrous acts committed by him, having this from many trustworthy witnesses who have deposed and borne witness on all this in the presence of said Spinoza, who has been convicted; all this having been examined in the presence of the Rabbis, the council decided, with the advice of the Rabbi, that the said Spinoza should be excommunicated and cut off from the Nation of Israel.

It has often been noted that, in view of Christian opposition to Spinoza's opinions, the Jewish community had little option but to dissociate itself from Spinoza's "heresies." After his cherem, it is reported that Spinoza lived and worked in the school of Franciscus van den Enden, who taught him Latin in his youth and may have introduced him to modern philosophy, although Spinoza never mentions Van den Enden anywhere in his books or letters. Van den Enden was a Cartesian and atheist who was forbidden by the city government to propagate his doctrines publicly.

During this period Spinoza also became acquainted with several Collegiants, members of an eclectic sect with tendencies towards rationalism. Many of his friends belonged to dissident Christian groups which met regularly as discussion groups and which typically rejected the authority of established churches as well as traditional dogmas.[1] Textbooks and encyclopedias often depict Spinoza as a solitary soul who eked out a living as a lens grinder; in reality, he had many friends but kept his needs to a minimum.[1] One reviewer noted "No one has ever come nearer to the ideal life of the philosopher than Spinoza."[10] Another wrote: "As a teacher of reality, he practiced his own wisdom, and was surely one of the most exemplary human beings ever to have lived."[11] "In outward appearance he was unpretending, but not careless. His way of living was exceedingly modest and retired; often he did not leave his room for many days together. He was likewise almost incredibly frugal; his expenses sometimes amounted only to a few pence a day."[12] "He appears to have had no sexual life."[11][13] Spinoza also corresponded with Peter Serrarius, a radical Protestant and millennarian merchant. Serrarius is believed to have been a patron of Spinoza at some point.[citation needed] By the beginning of the 1660s, Spinoza's name became more widely known, and eventually Gottfried Leibniz[14] and Henry Oldenburg paid him visits, as stated in Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic.[14] Spinoza corresponded with Oldenburg for the rest of his short life.

Descartes has been described as "Spinoza's starting point."[11] Spinoza's first publication was his geometric exposition (formal math proofs) of Descartes, Parts I and II of Descartes' Principles of Philosophy (1663). Spinoza has been associated with Leibniz and Descartes as "rationalists" in contrast to "empiricists".[15] From December 1664 to June 1665, Spinoza engaged in correspondence with Blyenbergh, an amateur Calvinist theologian, who questioned Spinoza on the definition of evil. Later in 1665, Spinoza notified Oldenburg that he had started to work on a new book, the Theologico-Political Treatise, published in 1670. Leibniz disagreed harshly with Spinoza in Leibniz's own published Refutation of Spinoza, but he is also known to have met with Spinoza on at least one occasion[14][15] (as mentioned above), and his own work bears some striking resemblances to specific important parts of Spinoza's philosophy (see: Monadology).

When the public reactions to the anonymously published Theologico-Political Treatise were extremely unfavourable to his brand of Cartesianism, Spinoza was compelled to abstain from publishing more of his works. Wary and independent, he wore a signet ring engraved with his initials, a rose[citation needed], and the word "caute" (Latin for "cautiously"). The Ethics and all other works, apart from the Descartes' Principles of Philosophy and the Theologico-Political Treatise, were published after his death, in the Opera Posthuma edited by his friends in secrecy to avoid confiscation and destruction of manuscripts. The Ethics contains many still-unresolved obscurities and is written with a forbidding mathematical structure modeled on Euclid's geometry [1] and has been described as a "superbly cryptic masterwork."[11]

Later life and career

Spinoza's house in Rijnsburg from 1661-3, now a museum
Study room of Spinoza

Spinoza spent his remaining 21 years writing and studying as a private scholar.[1] He preached a philosophy of tolerance and benevolence and was described as living "a saintly life."[1]

Spinoza relocated from Amsterdam to Rijnsburg (near Leiden) around 1661 and later lived in Voorburg and The Hague respectively. He earned a comfortable living from lens-grinding. While the lens-grinding aspect of Spinoza's work is uncontested, the type of lenses he made is in question. Many have said he produced excellent magnifying glasses, and some historians credit him with being an optician (in the sense of making lenses for eyeglasses). He was also supported by small, but regular, donations from close friends.[1]

He died in 1677 while still working on a political thesis. His premature death was due to lung illness, possibly the result of breathing in glass dust from the lenses he ground. Or also possibly due to a syndrome, known as Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) which is a hereditary inflammatory disorder that affects groups of people originating from around the Mediterranean Sea (hence its name). It is prominently present in the Armenian people, Sephardi Jews (and, to a much lesser extent, Ashkenazi Jews), people from Turkey, and the Arab countries. Later, a shrine was made of his home in The Hague.[16]

Only a year earlier, Spinoza had met with Leibniz at The Hague for a discussion of his principal philosophical work, Ethics, which had been completed in 1676. This meeting was described in Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic.[14] Spinoza never married, nor did he father any children. When he died, he was considered a heathen anti-religionist by the general population, and when Boerhaave wrote his dissertation in 1688 he attacked the doctrines of Spinoza. He claimed later that defense of Spinoza's lifestyle cost him his reputation in Leiden and a post as minister.

Dutch Port cities as sites of free thought

Amsterdam and Rotterdam were important cosmopolitan centers where merchant ships from many parts of the world brought people of various customs and beliefs. It was this hustle and bustle which ensured, as in the Mediterranean region during the Renaissance, some possibility of free thought and shelter from the crushing hand of ecclesiastical authority. Thus, Spinoza no doubt had access to a circle of friends who were basically heretics in the eyes of tradition. One of the people he must have known was Niels Stensen, a brilliant Danish student in Leiden; others were Coenraad van Beuningen and his cousin Albert Burgh, with whom Spinoza is known to have corresponded[citation needed].

Philosophy

The opening page of Spinoza's magnum opus, Ethics

Substance, Attributes and Modes

These are the fundamental concepts with which Spinoza sets forth a vision of Being, illuminated by his awareness of God. They may seem strange at first sight. To the question "What is?" he replies: "Substance, its attributes, and modes".
 

Spinoza believed God exists only philosophically and that God was abstract and impersonal.[1] Spinoza's system imparted order and unity to the tradition of radical thought, offering powerful weapons for prevailing against "received authority." As a youth he first subscribed to Descartes's dualistic belief that body and mind are two separate substances, but later changed his view and asserted that they were not separate, being a single identity. He contended that everything that exists in Nature (i.e., everything in the Universe) is one Reality (substance) and there is only one set of rules governing the whole of the reality which surrounds us and of which we are part. Spinoza viewed God and Nature as two names for the same reality,[11] namely the single substance (meaning "that which stands beneath" rather than "matter") that is the basis of the universe and of which all lesser "entities" are actually modes or modifications, that all things are determined by Nature to exist and cause effects, and that the complex chain of cause and effect is only understood in part. His identification of God with nature was more fully explained in his posthumously published Ethics.[1] That humans presume themselves to have free will, he argues, is a result of their awareness of appetites while being unable to understand the reasons why they want and act as they do. Spinoza has been described by one writer as an "Epicurean materialist."[11]

Spinoza contends that "Deus sive Natura" ("God or Nature") is a being of infinitely many attributes, of which thought and extension are two. His account of the nature of reality, then, seems to treat the physical and mental worlds as one and the same. The universal substance consists of both body and mind, there being no difference between these aspects. This formulation is a historically significant solution to the mind-body problem known as neutral monism. The consequences of Spinoza's system also envisages a God that does not rule over the universe by providence, but a God which itself is the deterministic system of which everything in nature is a part. Thus, according to this understanding of Spinoza's system, God would be the natural world and have no personality.

In addition to substance, the other two fundamental concepts Spinoza presents, and develops in the Ethics are attribute – that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance, and mode – the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.

Spinoza was a thoroughgoing determinist who held that absolutely everything that happens occurs through the operation of necessity. For him, even human behaviour is fully determined, with freedom being our capacity to know we are determined and to understand why we act as we do. So freedom is not the possibility to say "no" to what happens to us but the possibility to say "yes" and fully understand why things should necessarily happen that way. By forming more "adequate" ideas about what we do and our emotions or affections, we become the adequate cause of our effects (internal or external), which entails an increase in activity (versus passivity). This means that we become both more free and more like God, as Spinoza argues in the Scholium to Prop. 49, Part II. However, Spinoza also held that everything must necessarily happen the way that it does. Therefore, humans have no free will. They believe, however, that their will is free. In his letter to G. H. Schaller (Letter 62), he wrote: "men are conscious of their own desire, but are ignorant of the causes whereby that desire has been determined."[18]

Spinoza's philosophy has much in common with Stoicism inasmuch as both philosophies sought to fulfill a therapeutic role by instructing people how to attain happiness (or eudaimonia, for the Stoics). However, Spinoza differed sharply from the Stoics in one important respect: he utterly rejected their contention that reason could defeat emotion. On the contrary, he contended, an emotion can only be displaced or overcome by a stronger emotion. For him, the crucial distinction was between active and passive emotions, the former being those that are rationally understood and the latter those that are not. He also held that knowledge of true causes of passive emotion can transform it to an active emotion, thus anticipating one of the key ideas of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis.[19]

Some of Spinoza's philosophical positions are:

  • The natural world is infinite.
  • Good and evil are related to human pleasure and pain.
  • Everything done by humans and other animals is excellent and divine.
  • All rights are derived from the State.
  • Animals can be used in any way by people for the benefit of the human race, according to a rational consideration of the benefit as well as the animal's status in nature.[20][21]

Ethical philosophy

Encapsulated at the start in his Treatise on the Improvement of the Understanding (Tractatus de intellectus emendatione) is the core of Spinoza's ethical philosophy, what he held to be the true and final good. Spinoza held good and evil to be relative concepts, claiming that nothing is intrinsically good or bad except relative to a particular individual. Things that had classically been seen as good or evil, Spinoza argued, were simply good or bad for humans. Spinoza believes in a deterministic universe in which "All things in nature proceed from certain [definite] necessity and with the utmost perfection." Nothing happens by chance in Spinoza's world, and nothing is contingent.

In the universe anything that happens comes from the essential nature of objects, or of God/Nature. According to Spinoza, reality is perfection. If circumstances are seen as unfortunate it is only because of our inadequate conception of reality. While components of the chain of cause and effect are not beyond the understanding of human reason, human grasp of the infinitely complex whole is limited because of the limits of science to empirically take account of the whole sequence. Spinoza also asserted that sense perception, though practical and useful for rhetoric, is inadequate for discovering universal truth; Spinoza's mathematical and logical approach to metaphysics, and therefore ethics, concluded that emotion is formed from inadequate understanding. His concept of "conatus" states that human beings' natural inclination is to strive toward preserving an essential being and an assertion that virtue/human power is defined by success in this preservation of being by the guidance of reason as one's central ethical doctrine. According to Spinoza, the highest virtue is the intellectual love or knowledge of God/Nature/Universe.

In the final part of the "Ethics" his concern with the meaning of "true blessedness" and his unique approach to, and explanation of how, emotions must be detached from external cause and so master them, gives some prediction of psychological techniques developed in the 1900s. His concept of three types of knowledge - opinion, reason, intuition - and assertion that intuitive knowledge provides the greatest satisfaction of mind, leads to his proposition that the more we are conscious of ourselves and Nature/Universe, the more perfect and blessed we are (in reality) and that only intuitive knowledge is eternal. His unique contribution to understanding the workings of mind is extraordinary, even during this time of radical philosophical developments, in that his views provide a bridge between religions' mystical past and psychology of the present day.

Given Spinoza's insistence on a completely ordered world where "necessity" reigns, Good and Evil have no absolute meaning. Human catastrophes, social injustices, etc. are merely apparent. The world as it exists looks imperfect only because of our limited perception.

Panentheist, Pantheist, or Atheist?

It is a widespread belief that Spinoza equated God with the material universe. However, in a letter to Henry Oldenburg he states that: "as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken"[22]. For Spinoza, our universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in our world. According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers, when Spinoza wrote "Deus sive Natura" Spinoza meant God was Natura Naturans not Naturata Jaspers believed that in Spinoza's philosophical system, God's transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God's immanence.[23] Even God under the attributes of thought and extension cannot be identified strictly with our world. That world is of course "divisible"; it has parts. But Spinoza insists that "no attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided" (Which means that one can not conceive an attribute in a way that leads to division of substance), and that "a substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible" (Ethics, Part I, Propositions 12 and 13).[24] Following this logic, our world should be considered as a mode under two attributes of thought and extension. Therefore the pantheist formula "One and All" would apply to Spinoza only if the "One" preserves its transcendence and the "All" were not interpreted as the totality of finite things.[23]

Martial Guéroult suggested the term "Panentheism", rather than "Pantheism" to describe Spinoza’s view of the relation between God and the world. The world is not God, but it is, in a strong sense, "in" God. Not only do finite things have God as their cause; they cannot be conceived without God.[24]

In 1785, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi published a condemnation of Spinoza's pantheism, after Lessing was thought to have confessed on his deathbed to being a "Spinozist", which was the equivalent in his time of being called an atheist. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza's doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Moses Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that there is no actual difference between theism and pantheism. The entire issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time, which Immanuel Kant rejected, as he thought that attempts to conceive of transcendent reality would lead to antinomies (statements that could be proven both right and wrong) in thought.

The attraction of Spinoza's philosophy to late eighteenth-century Europeans was that it provided an alternative to materialism, atheism, and deism. Three of Spinoza's ideas strongly appealed to them:

  • the unity of all that exists;
  • the regularity of all that happens; and
  • the identity of spirit and nature.

Spinoza's "God or Nature" provided a living, natural God, in contrast to the Newtonian mechanical "First Cause" or the dead mechanism of the French "Man Machine." Coleridge and Shelley saw in Spinoza's philosophy a religion of nature[1] and called him the "God-intoxicated Man."[11][25] Spinoza inspired the poet Shelley to write his essay "The Necessity of Atheism."[11]

Modern relevance

Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, a name Wittgenstein later paid homage to in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Late 20th century Europe demonstrated a greater philosophical interest in Spinoza, often from a left-wing or Marxist perspective. Karl Marx liked his materialistic account of the universe.[1] Notable philosophers Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri, Étienne Balibar and Marilena Chauí have each drawn upon Spinoza's philosophy. Deleuze's doctoral thesis, published in 1968, refers to him as "the prince of philosophers."[26] Other philosophers heavily influenced by Spinoza include Constantin Brunner and John David Garcia. Stuart Hampshire wrote a major English language study of Spinoza, though H. H. Joachim's work is equally valuable. Unlike most philosophers, Spinoza and his work were highly regarded by Nietzsche.

Spinoza was an important philosophical inspiration for George Santayana. When Santayana graduated from college, he published an essay, “The Ethical Doctrine of Spinoza,” in The Harvard Monthly.[27] Later, he wrote an introduction to Spinoza’s Ethics and ‘De intellectus emendatione’.[28] In 1932, Santayana was invited to present an essay (published as "Ultimate Religion,"[29]) at a meeting at The Hague celebrating the tricentennial of Spinoza's birth. In Santayana's autobiography, he characterized Spinoza as his “master and model” in understanding the naturalistic basis of morality.[30]

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein evoked Spinoza with the title (suggested to him by G. E. Moore) of the English translation of his first definitive philosophical work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, an allusion to Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Elsewhere, Wittgenstein deliberately borrowed the expression sub specie aeternitatis from Spinoza (Notebooks, 1914-16, p. 83). The structure of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus does have some structural affinities with Spinoza's Ethics (though, admittedly, not with the latter's own Tractatus) in erecting complex philosophical arguments upon basic logical assertions and principles. Furthermore, in propositions 6.4311 and 6.45 he alludes to a Spinozian understanding of eternity and interpretation of the religious concept of eternal life, stating that "If by eternity is understood not eternal temporal duration, but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present." (6.4311) "The contemplation of the world sub specie aeterni is its contemplation as a limited whole." (6.45) Furthermore, Wittgenstein's interpretation of religious language, in both his early and later career, may be said to bear a family resemblance to Spinoza's pantheism.

Leo Strauss dedicated his first book ("Spinoza's Critique of Religion") to an examination of the latter's ideas. In the book, Strauss identified Spinoza as part of the tradition of Enlightenment rationalism that eventually produced Modernity. Moreover, he identifies Spinoza and his works as the beginning of Jewish Modernity.[11]

Spinoza has had influence beyond the confines of philosophy. The nineteenth century novelist, George Eliot, produced her own translation of the Ethics, the first known English translation thereof. Eliot liked Spinoza's vehement attacks on superstition.[1] Goethe could not say exactly what he liked in the Ethics, but was profoundly moved by it nevertheless (Goethe admitted he could not understand much of Spinoza.)[1] The twentieth century novelist, W. Somerset Maugham, alluded to one of Spinoza's central concepts with the title of his novel, Of Human Bondage. Albert Einstein named Spinoza as the philosopher who exerted the most influence on his world view (Weltanschauung). Einstein, in a telegram response, answered he believes in "Spinoza's God."[31] Spinoza equated God (infinite substance) with Nature, consistent with Einstein's belief in an impersonal deity. In 1929, Einstein was asked in a telegram by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein whether he believed in God. Einstein responded by telegram: "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."[31][32] Spinoza's pantheism has also influenced environmental theory. Arne Næss, the father of the deep ecology movement, acknowledged Spinoza as an important inspiration.

Moreover, the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges was greatly influenced by Spinoza's world view. In many of his poems and short stories, Borges makes allusions to the philosopher's work. So of course does Isaac Bashevis Singer in his short story The Spinoza of Market Street.[1] Spinoza has been the subject of numerous biographies and scholarly treatises (see list below).[25][33][34][35]

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. The highest and most prestigious scientific award of the Netherlands is named the Spinoza prijs (Spinoza prize). Spinoza was included in a 50 theme canon that attempts to summarise the history of the Netherlands.[36]

Spinoza's work is also mentioned as the favourite reading material for Bertie Wooster's valet Jeeves in the P. G. Wodehouse novels. Spinoza's life has been the subject of plays[2] and has been honored by educators.[37]

See also

Bibliography

By Spinoza

About Spinoza

  • Albiac, Gabriel, 1987. La sinagoga vacía: un estudio de las fuentes marranas del espinosismo. Madrid: Hiperión D.L. ISBN 84-7517-214-8
  • Balibar, Étienne, 1985. Spinoza et la politique ("Spinoza and politics") Paris: PUF.
  • Boucher, Wayne I., 1999. Spinoza in English: A Bibliography from the Seventeenth Century to the Present. 2nd edn. Thoemmes Press.
  • Boucher, Wayne I., ed., 1999. Spinoza: Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Discussions. 6 vols. Thoemmes Press.
  • Damásio, António, 2003. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, Harvest Books,ISBN 978-0156028714
  • Deleuze, Gilles, 1968. Spinoza et le problème de l'expression. Trans. "Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza" Martin Joughin (New York: Zone Books).
  • ———, 1970. Spinoza - Philosophie pratique. Transl. "Spinoza: Practical Philosophy".
  • ———, 1990. Negotiations trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press).
  • Della Rocca, Michael. 1996. Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509562-6
  • Garrett, Don, ed., 1995. The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza. Cambridge Uni. Press.
  • Gatens, Moira, and Lloyd, Genevieve, 1999. Collective imaginings : Spinoza, past and present. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16570-9, ISBN 0-415-16571-7
  • Goldstein, Rebecca, 2006. Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. Schocken. ISBN 978-0-8052-1159-7
  • Gullan-Whur, Margaret, 1998. Within Reason: A Life of Spinoza. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-05046-X
  • Hampshire, Stuart, 1951. Spinoza and Spinozism , OUP, 2005 ISBN 978-0199279548
  • Hardt, Michael, trans., University of Minnesota Press. Preface, in French, by Gilles Deleuze, available here.
  • Israel, Jonathan, 2001. The Radical Enlightenment, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • ———, 2006. Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670-1752, (ISBN 0-19-927922-5 hardback)
  • Kasher, Asa, and Shlomo Biderman. "Why Was Baruch de Spinoza Excommunicated?"
  • Kayser, Rudolf, 1946, with an introduction by Albert Einstein. Spinoza: Portrait of a Spiritual Hero. New York: The Philosophical Library.
  • Lloyd, Genevieve, 1996. Spinoza and the Ethics. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10781-4, ISBN 0-415-10782-2
  • Lucas, P. G., 1960. "Some Speculative and Critical Philosophers", in I. Levine (ed.), Philosophy (London: Odhams)
  • Lovejoy, Arthur O., 1936. "Plenitude and Sufficient Reason in Leibniz and Spinoza" in his The Great Chain of Being. Harvard University Press: 144-82 (ISBN 0-674-36153-9). Reprinted in Frankfurt, H. G., ed., 1972. Leibniz: A Collection of Critical Essays. Anchor Books.
  • Macherey, Pierre, 1977. Hegel ou Spinoza, Maspéro (2nd ed. La Découverte, 2004).
  • ———, 1994-98. Introduction à l'Ethique de Spinoza. Paris: PUF.
  • Matheron, Alexandre, 1969. Individu et communauté chez Spinoza, Paris: Minuit.
  • Morgan, Michael L. (ed.), 2002. "Spinoza: Complete Works", (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company). ISBN 0-87220-620-3
  • Montag, Warren. Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and his Contemporaries. (London: Verso, 2002).
  • Moreau, Pierre-François, 2003, Spinoza et le spinozisme, PUF (Presses Universitaires de France)
  • Nadler, Steven, 1999. Spinoza: A Life. Cambridge Uni. Press. ISBN 0-521-55210-9
  • Nadler, Steven, 2006. Spinoza's Ethics: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83620-3
  • Negri, Antonio, 1991. The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza's Metaphysics and Politics.
  • ———, 2004. Subversive Spinoza: (Un)Contemporary Variations).
  • Popkin, R. H., 2004. Spinoza (Oxford: One World Publications)
  • Ratner, Joseph, 1927. The Philosophy of Spinoza (The Modern Library: Random House)
  • Stoltze, Ted and Warren Montag (eds.), The New Spinoza (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
  • Strauss, Leo. Persecution and the Art of Writing. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1952. Reprint. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
  • ———ch. 5, "How to Study Spinoza's Tractus Theologico-Politicus;" reprinted in Strauss, Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, ed. Kenneth Hart Green (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press, 1997), 181-233.
  • ———Spinoza's Critique of Religion. New York: Schocken Books, 1965. Reprint. University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • ———, "Preface to the English Translation" reprinted as "Preface to Spinoza's Critique of Religion," in Strauss, Liberalism Ancient and Modern (New York: Basic Books, 1968, 224-59; also in Strauss, Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, 137-77.
  • Smilevski, Goce. Conversation with SPINOZA. Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2006.
  • Yovel, Yirmiyahu, "Spinoza and Other Heretics, Vol. 1: The Marrano of Reason." Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1989.
  • Yovel, Yirmiyahu, "Spinoza and Other Heretics, Vol. 2: The Adventures of Immanence." Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1989.
  • The Courtier and the Heretic:Leibniz, Spinoza and the Fate of God; by Matthew Stewart[15]
  • Blessed Spinoza: A Biography; by Lewis Browne.[25]
  • Spinoza: Liberator of God and Man; by Benjamin De Casseres.[25]
  • Spinoza: The Biosopher; by Frederick Kettner.[25]
  • The Philosophy of Spinoza; by Henry Austryn Wolfson.[34]
  • Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity; by Rebecca Goldstein.[11]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p ANTHONY GOTTLIEB. "God Exists, Philosophically (review of "Spinoza: A Life" by Steven Nadler)". The New York Times -- Books. http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/07/18/reviews/990718.18gottlit.html. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Play shows the price of Spinoza's ideas -- (David Ives' play "New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation.")". The Boston Globe. January 14, 2008. http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2008/01/14/play_shows_the_price_of_spinozas_ideas/?rss_id=Boston.com+--+Theater+and+arts+news. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  3. ^ Hegel's History of Philosophy
  4. ^ quoted in the translator's preface of Deleuze Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza (1990).
  5. ^ Magnusson, M (ed.), Spinoza, Baruch, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, Chambers 1990, ISBN 0550160418.
  6. ^ Javier Muguerza in his Desde la perplejidad
  7. ^ http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0013_0_13046.html
  8. ^ Tel Aviv University: "Why Was Baruch De Spinoza Excommunicated?", by Asa Kasher and Shlomo Biderman
  9. ^ Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy Allen & Unwin (1946) New Ed.1961 p.552
  10. ^ Phelps, M. Stuart (February 21, 1877). "Spinoza. Oration by M. Ernest Renan, delivered at the Hague, Feb. 21, 1877 by Translated by M. Stuart Phelps [pp. 763-776"]. New Englander and Yale Review Volume 0037 Issue 147 (November 1878). http://digital.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=nwng;cc=nwng;rgn=full%20text;idno=nwng0037-6;didno=nwng0037-6;view=image;seq=00777;node=nwng0037-6%3A1. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Harold Bloom (book reviewer) (June 16, 2006). "Deciphering Spinoza, the Great Original -- Book review of "Betraying Spinoza. The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity." By Rebecca Goldstein". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/16/arts/16iht-idside17.1986759.html. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  12. ^ "HOW SPINOZA LIVED". The New York Times. March 17, 1878. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9407E0DD143EE73BBC4F52DFB5668383669FDE. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  13. ^ "NEW LIGHT ON SPINOZA -- Joseph Freudenthal's Book, Published in German, Gives Facts.". The Chicago Tribune. November 19, 1899. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/427142411.html?dids=427142411:427142411&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Nov+19%2C+1899&author=&pub=Chicago+Tribune&desc=NEW+LIGHT+ON+SPINOZA.&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  14. ^ a b c d Lucas, 1960.
  15. ^ a b c Lisa Montanarelli (book reviewer) (January 8, 2006). "Spinoza stymies 'God's attorney' -- Stewart argues the secular world was at stake in Leibniz face off". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/01/08/RVGO9GEOKH1.DTL. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  16. ^ SPECIAL FEATURES (December 5, 1926). "SHRINE WILL BE MADE OF OLD SPINOZA HOME; Society That Bears His Name Seeks Fund to Buy Dwelling of Great Philosopher at The Hague on the 250th Anniversary of His Death". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60A14F73C5F147A93C7A91789D95F428285F9. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  17. ^ Spinoza, Karl Jaspers p.9
  18. ^ Ethics, Pt. I, Prop. XXXVI, Appendix: "[M]en think themselves free inasmuch as they are conscious of their volitions and desires, and never even dream, in their ignorance, of the causes which have disposed them so to wish and desire."
  19. ^ Roger Scruton, Spinoza, A very Short Introduction, p.86
  20. ^ Ethics, Pt. IV, Prop. XXXVII, Note I.: "Still I do not deny that beasts feel: what I deny is, that we may not consult our own advantage and use them as we please, treating them in a way which best suits us; for their nature is not like ours...." (Emphasis added to quotation.)
  21. ^ Schopenhauer criticized Spinoza's attitude toward animals: "His contempt for animals, who, as mere things for our use, are declared by him to be without rights,...in conjunction with Pantheism, is at the same time absurd and abominable." The World as Will and Representation, tr.E.F.J. Payne (1958) Dover. New York 1966 Vol. 2, Chapter 50, p.645. = Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (hrsg.Arthur Hübscher), Reclam Stuttgart, 1987 Band 2, p.837
  22. ^ Correspondence of Benedict de Spinoza, Wilder Publications (March 26, 2009), ISBN 1604591560, letter 73
  23. ^ a b Karl Jaspers, Spinoza (Great Philosophers), Harvest Books (October 23, 1974), ISBN 0156847302, Pages: 14 and 95
  24. ^ a b Genevieve Lloyd, Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Spinoza and The Ethics (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks), Routledge; 1 edition (October 2, 1996), ISBN 0415107822, Page: 40
  25. ^ a b c d e "Spinoza, "God-Intoxicated Man"; Three Books Which Mark the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the Philosopher's Birth BLESSED SPINOZA. A Biography. By Lewis Browne. 319 pp. New York: The Macmillan Com- pany. $4. SPINOZA. Liberator of God and Man. By Benjamin De Casseres, 145pp. New York: E.Wickham Sweetland. $2. SPINOZA THE BIOSOPHER. By Frederick Kettner. Introduc- tion by Nicholas Roerich, New Era Library. 255 pp. New York: Roerich Museum Press. $2.50. Spinoza". The New York Times. November 20, 1932. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40A14F83A5513738DDDA90A94D9415B828FF1D3. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  26. ^ Deleuze, 1968.
  27. ^ George Santayana, "The Ethical Doctrine of Spinoza," The Harvard Monthly, 2 (June 1886: 144–52)
  28. ^ George Santayana, "Introduction," in Spinoza’s Ethics and ‘De intellectus emendatione’(London: Dent, 1910, vii–xxii)
  29. ^ George Santayana, "Ultimate Religion," in Obiter Scripta, eds. Justus Buchler and Benjamin Schwartz (New York and London: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936) 280-297.
  30. ^ George Santayana, Persons and Places (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, 1986) 233–36.
  31. ^ a b "EINSTEIN BELIEVES IN "SPINOZA'S GOD"; Scientist Defines His Faith in Reply, to Cablegram From Rabbi Here. SEES A DIVINE ORDER But Says Its Ruler Is Not Concerned "Wit Fates and Actions of Human Beings."". The New York Times. April 25, 1929. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10B1EFC3E54167A93C7AB178FD85F4D8285F9. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  32. ^ Einstein's Third Paradise, by Gerald Holton
  33. ^ "Spinoza's First Biography Is Recovered; THE OLDEST BIOGRAPHY OF SPINOZA. Edited with Translations, Introduction, Annotations, &c., by A. Wolf. 196 pp. New York: Lincoln Macveagh. The Dial Press.". The New York Times. December 11, 1927. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60D1EFF395C147A93C3A81789D95F438285F9. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  34. ^ a b IRWIN EDMAN (July 22, 1934). "The Unique and Powerful Vision of Baruch Spinoza; Professor Wolfson's Long-Awaited Book Is a Work of Illuminating Scholarship. (Book review) THE PHILOSOPHY OF SPINOZA. By Henry Austryn Wolfson". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0610FC395D13728DDDAB0A94DF405B848FF1D3. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  35. ^ "ROTH EVALUATES SPINOZA". Los Angeles Times. September 8, 1929. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/370934682.html?dids=370934682:370934682&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Sep+08%2C+1929&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times&desc=ROTH+EVALUATES+SPINOZA&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  36. ^ http://www.entoen.nu/>
  37. ^ SOCIAL NEWS BOOKS (November 25, 1932). "TRIBUTE TO SPINOZA PAID BY EDUCATORS; Dr. Robinson Extols Character of Philosopher, 'True to the Eternal Light Within Him.' HAILED AS 'GREAT REBEL'; De Casseres Stresses Individualism of Man Whose Tercentenary Is Celebrated at Meeting.". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30D13F6355516738DDDAC0A94D9415B828FF1D3. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  38. ^ http://nl.wikisource.org/wiki/Korte_Verhandeling_van_God,_de_mensch_en_deszelvs_welstand
  39. ^ Spinoza's A Theologico-Political Treatise - Part 1:

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Baruch Spinoza article)

From Wikiquote

I have laboured carefully, not to mock, lament, or execrate human actions, but to understand them.

Benedictus de Spinoza (24 November 163221 February 1677) was a social and metaphysical philosopher who was excommunicated from the Jewish community of his native Amsterdam. He was named Baruch ("blessed" in Hebrew) Spinoza by his synagogue elders and known as Bento de Spinoza or Bento d'Espiñoza, but afterwards used the name Benedictus ("blessed" in Latin) de Spinoza.

Contents

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I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say... that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular...
We must take care not to admit as true anything, which is only probable. For when one falsity has been let in, infinite others follow...
We cannot infer that because sciences of things divine and human are full of controversies and quarrels, therefore their whole subject-matter is uncertain...
  • When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in Him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped.
    The briefness of a letter and want of time do not allow me to enter into my opinion on the divine nature, or the questions you have propounded. Besides, suggesting difficulties is not the same as producing reasons. That we do many things in the world from conjecture is true, but that our redactions are based on conjecture is false. In practical life we are compelled to follow what is most probable; in speculative thought we are compelled to follow truth. A man would perish of hunger and thirst, if he refused to eat or drink, till he had obtained positive proof that food and drink would be good for him. But in philosophic reflection this is not so. On the contrary, we must take care not to admit as true anything, which is only probable. For when one falsity has been let in, infinite others follow.
    Again, we cannot infer that because sciences of things divine and human are full of controversies and quarrels, therefore their whole subject-matter is uncertain; for there have been many persons so enamoured of contradiction, as to turn into ridicule geometrical axioms.
  • My opinion concerning God differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by modern Christians. For I hold that God is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient. I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul, and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different; I will even venture to affirm that I agree with all the ancient Hebrews, in so far as one may judge from their traditions, though these are in many ways corrupted. The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus the unity of God and Nature (meaning by the latter a certain mass or corporeal matter), is wholly erroneous.
    As regards miracles, I am of opinion that the revelation of God can only be established by the wisdom of the doctrine, not by miracles, or in other words by ignorance.
  • I make this chief distinction between religion and superstition, that the latter is founded on ignorance, the former on knowledge; this, I take it, is the reason why Christians are distinguished from the rest of the world, not by faith, nor by charity, nor by the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, but solely by their opinions, inasmuch as they defend their cause, like everyone else, by miracles, that is by ignorance, which is the source of all malice; thus they turn a faith, which may be true, into superstition.
    • Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg , November (1675)
I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul, and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different...
  • I do not think it necessary for salvation to know Christ according to the flesh: but with regard to the Eternal Son of God, that is the Eternal Wisdom of God, which has manifested itself in all things and especially in the human mind, and above all in Christ Jesus, the case is far otherwise. For without this no one can come to a state of blessedness, inasmuch as it alone teaches, what is true or false, good or evil. And, inasmuch as this wisdom was made especially manifest through Jesus Christ, as I have said, His disciples preached it, in so far as it was revealed to them through Him, and thus showed that they could rejoice in that spirit of Christ more than the rest of mankind. The doctrines added by certain churches, such as that God took upon Himself human nature, I have expressly said that I do not understand; in fact, to speak the truth, they seem to me no less absurd than would a statement, that a circle had taken upon itself the nature of a, square. This I think will be sufficient explanation of my opinions concerning the three points mentioned. Whether it will be satisfactory to Christians you will know better than I.
    • Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg , November (1675)
    • Variant translation: The eternal wisdom of God ... has shown itself forth in all things, but chiefly in the mind of man, and most of all in Jesus Christ.
I do not presume that I have found the best philosophy, I know that I understand the true philosophy.
  • You seem to wish to employ reason, and ask me, "How I know that my philosophy is the best among all that have ever been taught in the world, or are being taught, or ever will be taught?" a question which I might with much greater right ask you; for I do not presume that I have found the best philosophy, I know that I understand the true philosophy. If you ask in what way I know it, I answer: In the same way as you know that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles: that this is sufficient, will be denied by no one whose brain is sound, and who does not go dreaming of evil spirits inspiring us with false ideas like the true. For the truth is the index of itself and of what is false.
    But you, who presume that you have at last found the best religion, or rather the best men, on whom you have pinned your credulity, you, "who know that they are the best among all who have taught, do now teach, or shall in future teach other religions. Have you examined all religions, ancient as well as modern, taught here and in India and everywhere throughout the world? And, if you, have duly examined them, how do you know that you have chosen the best" since you can give no reason for the faith that is in you? But you will say, that you acquiesce in the inward testimony of the Spirit of God, while the rest of mankind are ensnared and deceived by the prince of evil spirits. But all those outside the pale of the Romish Church can with equal right proclaim of their own creed what you proclaim of yours.
    As to what you add of the common consent of myriads of men and the uninterrupted ecclesiastical succession, this is the very catch-word of the Pharisees. They with no less confidence than the devotees of Rome bring forward their myriad witnesses, who as pertinaciously as the Roman witnesses repeat what they have heard, as though it were their personal experience. Further, they carry back their line to Adam. They boast with equal arrogance, that their Church has continued to this day unmoved and unimpaired in spite of the hatred of Christians and heathen. They more than any other sect are supported by antiquity. They exclaim with one voice, that they have received their traditions from God Himself, and that they alone preserve the Word of God both written and unwritten. That all heresies have issued from them, and that they have remained constant through thousands of years under no constraint of temporal dominion, but by the sole efficacy of their superstition, no one can deny. The miracles they tell of would tire a thousand tongues. But their chief boast is, that they count a far greater number of martyrs than any other nation, a number which is daily increased by those who suffer with singular constancy for the faith they profess; nor is their boasting false. I myself knew among others of a certain Judah called the faithful, who in the midst of the flames, when he was already thought to be dead, lifted his voice to sing the hymn beginning, "To Thee, O God, I offer up my soul," and so singing perished.
  • Nature is satisfied with little; and if she is, I am also.
    • As quoted in The Story of Philosophy (1933) by Will Durant, p. 176

On the Improvement of the Understanding (1662)

Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione [On the Improvement of the Understanding] (1662) Full text online
The properties of things are not understood so long as their essences are unknown.
  • The ordinary surroundings of life which are esteemed by men (as their actions testify) to be the highest good, may be classed under the three heads — Riches, Fame, and the Pleasures of Sense: with these three the mind is so absorbed that it has little power to reflect on any different good.
    • Pt. I, 3
    • Variant translation: The things which ... are esteemed as the greatest good of all ... can be reduced to these three headings: to wit, Riches, Fame, and Pleasure. With these three the mind is so engrossed that it cannot scarcely think of any other good.
  • A definition, if it is to be called perfect, must explain the inmost essence of a thing, and must take care not to substitute for this any of its properties. In order to illustrate my meaning, without taking an example which would seem to show a desire to expose other people's errors, I will choose the case of something abstract, the definition of which is of little moment. Such is a circle. If a circle be defined as a figure, such that all straight lines drawn from the center to the circumference are equal, every one can see that such a definition does not in the least explain the essence of a circle, but solely one of its properties. Though, as I have said, this is of no importance in the case of figures and other abstractions, it is of great importance in the case of physical beings and realities: for the properties of things are not understood so long as their essences are unknown. If the latter be passed over, there is necessarily a perversion of the succession of ideas which should reflect the succession of nature, and we go far astray from our object.

Theological-Political Treatise (1670)

Full text online
Everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits...
  • (1) Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favoured by fortune: but being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune's greedily coveted favours, they are consequently, for the most part, very prone to credulity.
    (2) The human mind is readily swayed this way or that in times of doubt, especially when hope and fear are struggling for the mastery, though usually it is boastful, over-confident, and vain.
    (3) This as a general fact I suppose everyone knows, though few, I believe, know their own nature; no one can have lived in the world without observing that most people, when in prosperity, are so over-brimming with wisdom (however inexperienced they may be), that they take every offer of advice as a personal insult, whereas in adversity they know not where to turn, but beg and pray for counsel from every passer-by.
    (4) No plan is then too futile, too absurd, or too fatuous for their adoption; the most frivolous causes will raise them to hope, or plunge them into despair — if anything happens during their fright which reminds them of some past good or ill, they think it portends a happy or unhappy issue, and therefore (though it may have proved abortive a hundred times before) style it a lucky or unlucky omen.
    (5) Anything which excites their astonishment they believe to be a portent signifying the anger of the gods or of the Supreme Being, and, mistaking superstition for religion, account it impious not to avert the evil with prayer and sacrifice.
    (6) Signs and wonders of this sort they conjure up perpetually, till one might think Nature as mad as themselves, they interpret her so fantastically.
    (7) Thus it is brought prominently before us, that superstition's chief victims are those persons who greedily covet temporal advantages; they it is, who (especially when they are in danger, and cannot help themselves) are wont with Prayers and womanish tears to implore help from God: upbraiding Reason as blind, because she cannot show a sure path to the shadows they pursue, and rejecting human wisdom as vain; but believing the phantoms of imagination, dreams, and other childish absurdities, to be the very oracles of Heaven.
    (8) As though God had turned away from the wise, and written His decrees, not in the mind of man but in the entrails of beasts, or left them to be proclaimed by the inspiration and instinct of fools, madmen, and birds. Such is the unreason to which terror can drive mankind!
    (9) Superstition, then, is engendered, preserved, and fostered by fear.
    • Preface
The multitude always strains after rarities and exceptions, and thinks little of the gifts of nature; so that, when prophecy is talked of, ordinary knowledge is not supposed to be included...
  • As men's habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude ... that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits; each would then obey God freely with his whole heart, while nothing would be publicly honoured save justice and charity.
    • Preface
  • Prophecy really includes ordinary knowledge; for the knowledge which we acquire by our natural faculties depends on knowledge of God and His eternal laws; but ordinary knowledge is common to all men as men, and rests on foundations which all share, whereas the multitude always strains after rarities and exceptions, and thinks little of the gifts of nature; so that, when prophecy is talked of, ordinary knowledge is not supposed to be included.
    Nevertheless it has as much right as any other to be called Divine, for God's nature, in so far as we share therein, and God's laws, dictate it to us; nor does it suffer from that to which we give the preeminence, except in so far as the latter transcends its limits and cannot be accounted for by natural laws taken in themselves.
    • Ch. 1, Of Prophecy
In regard to intellect and true virtue, every nation is on a par with the rest, and God has not in these respects chosen one people rather than another.
  • When, the prophets, in speaking of this election which regards only true virtue, mixed up much concerning sacrifices and ceremonies, and the rebuilding of the temple and city, they wished by such figurative expressions, after the manner and nature of prophecy, to expound matters spiritual, so as at the same time to show to the Jews, whose prophets they were, the true restoration of the state and of the temple to be expected about the time of Cyrus.
    At the present time, therefore, there is absolutely nothing which the Jews can arrogate to themselves beyond other people.
    As to their continuance so long after dispersion and the loss of empire, there is nothing marvellous in it, for they so separated themselves from every other nation as to draw down upon themselves universal hate, not only by their outward rites, rites conflicting with those of other nations, but also by the sign of circumcision which they most scrupulously observe.
    That they have been preserved in great measure by Gentile hatred, experience demonstrates.
    • Ch. 3, Of the Vocation of the Hebrews, and Whether the Gift of Prophecy Was Peculiar to Them
    • Variant translation: Therefore at the present time there is nothing whatsoever that the Jews can arrogate to themselves above other nations. As to their continued existence for so many years when scattered and stateless, this is in no way surprising, since they have separated themselves from other nations to such a degree as to incur the hatred of all, and this not only through external rites alien to the rites of other nations but also through the mark of circumcision, which they most religiously observe. That they are preserved largely through the hatred of other nations is demonstrated by historical fact.
      • As translated by Samuel Shirley
  • In regard to intellect and true virtue, every nation is on a par with the rest, and God has not in these respects chosen one people rather than another.
    • Ch. 3, Of the Vocation of the Hebrews, and Whether the Gift of Prophecy Was Peculiar to Them
The true aim of government is liberty.
  • The ultimate aim of government is not to rule, or restrain, by fear, nor to exact obedience, but contrariwise, to free every man from fear, that he may live in all possible security; in other words, to strengthen his natural right to exist and work without injury to himself or others.
    No, the object of government is not to change men from rational beings into beasts or puppets, but to enable them to develope their minds and bodies in security, and to employ their reason unshackled; neither showing hatred, anger, or deceit, nor watched with the eyes of jealousy and injustice. In fact, the true aim of government is liberty.
    • Ch. 20, That In a Free State Every Man May Think What He Likes, and Say What He Thinks
    • Variant translation: The last end of the state is not to dominate men, nor to restrain them by fear; rather it is so to free each man from fear that he may live and act with full security and without injury to himself or his neighbor. The end of the state, I repeat, is not to make rational beings into brute beasts and machines. It is to enable their bodies and their minds to function safely. It is to lead men to live by, and to exercise, a free reason; that they may not waste their strength in hatred, anger and guile, nor act unfairly toward one another. Thus the end of the state is really liberty.
  • If men's minds were as easily controlled as their tongues, every king would sit safely on his throne, and government by compulsion would cease; for every subject would shape his life according to the intentions of his rulers, and would esteem a thing true or false, good or evil, just or unjust, in obedience to their dictates.
    • Ch. 20
  • The more a government strives to curtail freedom of speech, the more obstinately is it resisted; not indeed by the avaricious, ... but by those whom good education, sound morality, and virtue have rendered more free. Men in general are so constituted that there is nothing they will endure with so little patience as that views which they believe to be true should be counted crimes against the laws. ... Under such circumstances they do not think it disgraceful, but most honorable, to hold the laws in abhorrence, and to refrain from no action against the government.
    • Ch. 20, That In a Free State Every Man May Think What He Likes, and Say What He Thinks
The real disturbers of the peace are those who, in a free state, seek to curtail the liberty of judgment which they are unable to tyrannize over.
  • Schisms do not originate in a love of truth, which is a source of courtesy and gentleness, but rather in an inordinate desire for supremacy. From all these considerations it is clearer than the sun at noonday, that the true schismatics are those who condemn other men's writings, and seditiously stir up the quarrelsome masses against their authors, rather than those authors themselves, who generally write only for the learned, and appeal solely to reason. In fact, the real disturbers of the peace are those who, in a free state, seek to curtail the liberty of judgment which they are unable to tyrannize over.
    • Ch. 20, That In a Free State Every Man May Think What He Likes, and Say What He Thinks
  • The safest way for a state is to lay down the rule that religion is comprised solely in the exercise of charity and justice, and that the rights of rulers in sacred, no less than in secular matters, should merely have to do with actions, but that every man should think what he likes and say what he thinks.
    • Ch. 20, That In a Free State Every Man May Think What He Likes, and Say What He Thinks

Not yet placed by chapter:

  • Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
    • This sentence has been cited as from the Theological-Political Treatise since at least the 1970s, but without indication of either chapter or translator.

Political Treatise (1677)

I have resolved to demonstrate by a certain and undoubted course of argument, or to deduce from the very condition of human nature, not what is new and unheard of, but only such things as agree best with practice.
Tractatus Politicus as translated by A. H. Gosset (1883) Full text online - Alternate site (this is an unfinished work, left incomplete by Spinoza's death)
  • Philosophers conceive of the passions which harass us as vices into which men fall by their own fault, and, therefore, generally deride, bewail, or blame them, or execrate them, if they wish to seem unusually pious. And so they think they are doing something wonderful, and reaching the pinnacle of learning, when they are clever enough to bestow manifold praise on such human nature, as is nowhere to be found, and to make verbal attacks on that which, in fact, exists. For they conceive of men, not as they are, but as they themselves would like them to be. Whence it has come to pass that, instead of ethics, they have generally written satire, and that they have never conceived a theory of politics, which could be turned to use, but such as might be taken for a chimera, or might have been formed in Utopia, or in that golden age of the poets when, to be sure, there was least need of it. Accordingly, as in all sciences, which have a useful application, so especially in that of politics, theory is supposed to be at variance with practice; and no men are esteemed less fit to direct public affairs than theorists or philosophers
    • Ch. 1, Introduction
Nothing is forbidden by the law of nature, except what is beyond everyone's power.
  • I have resolved to demonstrate by a certain and undoubted course of argument, or to deduce from the very condition of human nature, not what is new and unheard of, but only such things as agree best with practice.
    • Ch. 1, Introduction
  • I have laboured carefully, not to mock, lament, or execrate, but to understand human actions; and to this end I have looked upon passions, such as love, hatred, anger, envy, ambition, pity, and the other perturbations of the mind, not in the light of vices of human nature, but as properties, just as pertinent to it, as are heat, cold, storm, thunder, and the like to the nature of the atmosphere, which phenomena, though inconvenient, are yet necessary, and have fixed causes, by means of which we endeavour to understand their nature, and the mind has just as much pleasure in viewing them aright, as in knowing such things as flatter the senses
    • Ch. 1, Introduction
    • Variant translation: I have laboured carefully, not to mock, lament, or execrate human actions, but to understand them.
Nature offers nothing that can be called this man's rather than another's; but under nature everything belongs to all...
  • Speaking generally, he holds dominion, to whom are entrusted by common consent affairs of state — such as the laying down, interpretation, and abrogation of laws, the fortification of cities, deciding on war and peace, &c. But if this charge belong to a council, composed of the general multitude, then the dominion is called a democracy; if the council be composed of certain chosen persons, then it is an aristocracy; and if, lastly, the care of affairs of state and, consequently, the dominion rest with one man, then it has the name of monarchy.
    • Ch. 2, Of Natural Right
He is called just who has a constant will to render to every man his own...
  • Man can, indeed, act contrarily to the decrees of God, as far as they have been written like laws in the minds of ourselves or the prophets, but against that eternal decree of God, which is written in universal nature, and has regard to the course of nature as a whole, he can do nothing.
    • Ch. 2, Of Natural Right
  • In the state of nature, wrong-doing is impossible; or, if anyone does wrong, it is to himself, not to another. For no one by the law of nature is bound to please another, unless he chooses, nor to hold anything to be good or evil, but what he himself, according to his own temperament, pronounces to be so; and, to speak generally, nothing is forbidden by the law of nature, except what is beyond everyone's power.
    • Ch. 2, Of Natural Right
  • Nature offers nothing that can be called this man's rather than another's; but under nature everything belongs to all — that is, they have authority to claim it for themselves. But under dominion, where it is by common law determined what belongs to this man, and what to that, he is called just who has a constant will to render to every man his own, but he unjust who strives, on the contrary, to make his own that which belongs to another.
    • Ch. 2, Of Natural Right
All laws which can be broken without any injury to another, are counted but a laughing-stock, and are so far from bridling the desires and lusts of men, that on the contrary they stimulate them.
  • If slavery, barbarism and desolation are to be called peace, men can have no worse misfortune. No doubt there are usually more and sharper quarrels between parents and children, than between masters and slaves; yet it advances not the art of household management to change a father's right into a right of property, and count children but as slaves. Slavery, then, and not peace, is furthered by handing, over the whole authority to one man.
    • Ch. 6, On Monarchy
  • He who seeks equality between unequals, seeks an absurdity.
    • Ch. 9, Of Aristocracy, Continuation
  • All laws which can be broken without any injury to another, are counted but a laughing-stock, and are so far from bridling the desires and lusts of men, that on the contrary they stimulate them.
    • Ch. 10, Of Aristocracy, Conclusion
    • Variant translation: Laws which can be broken without any wrong to one's neighbor are but a laughing-stoke; and so far from such laws restraining the appetites and lusts of mankind, they rather heighten them.
    • Variant: "All laws which can be violated without doing any one any injury are laughed at. Nay, so far are they from doing anything to control the desires and passions of men that, on the contrary, they direct and incite men's thoughts the more toward those very objects, for we always strive toward what is forbidden and desire the things we are not allowed to have. And men of leisure are never deficient in the ingenuity needed to enable them to outwit laws framed to regulate things which cannot be entirely forbidden... He who tries to determine everything by law will foment crime rather than lessen it."
  • I pass, at length, to the third and perfectly absolute dominion, which we call democracy.
    • Ch. 11, Of Democracy
  • We can conceive of various kinds of democracy. But my intention is not to treat of every kind, but of that only, "wherein all, without exception, who owe allegiance to the laws of the country only, and are further independent and of respectable life, have the right of voting in the supreme council and of filling the offices of the dominion."
    • Ch. 11, Of Democracy

Ethics (1677)

Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata [Ethics Geometrically Demonstrtated] - Full text online

Part I : Concerning God

Full text online
By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite — that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.
God and all attributes of God are eternal.
Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner.
  • By that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.
    • Definition 1
  • A body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited by another thought, but a body is not limited by thought, nor a thought by body.
    • Definition 2
  • By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite — that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.
    Explanation — I say absolutely infinite, not infinite after its kind: for, of a thing infinite only after its kind, infinite attributes may be denied; but that which is absolutely infinite, contains in its essence whatever expresses reality, and involves no negation.
    • Definition 6
  • That thing is called free, which exists solely by the necessity of its own nature, and of which the action is determined by itself alone. On the other hand, that thing is necessary, or rather constrained, which is determined by something external to itself to a fixed and definite method of existence or action.
    • Definition 7
  • By eternity, I mean existence itself, in so far as it is conceived necessarily to follow solely from the definition of that which is eternal.
    Explanation — Existence of this kind is conceived as an eternal truth, like the essence of a thing, and, therefore, cannot be explained by means of continuance or time, though continuance may be conceived without a beginning or end.
    • Definition 8
  • The more reality or being a thing has, the greater the number of its attributes.
    • Prop. 9
  • God, or substance, consisting of infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality, necessarily exists.
    • Prop. 11
  • Nature abhors a vacuum.
    • Prop. 15: note
  • Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived.
    • Prop. 15
  • God and all attributes of God are eternal.
    • Prop. 19
  • Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner.
    • Prop. 25
  • Nothing in the universe is contingent, but all things are conditioned to exist and operate in a particular manner by the necessity of the divine nature.
    • Prop. 29
  • Things could not have been brought into being by God in any manner or in any order different from that which has in fact obtained.
    • Prop. 33
  • Nothing exists from whose nature some effect does not follow.
    • Prop. 36

Part II : On the Nature and Origin of the Mind

Full text online
He, who knows how to distinguish between true and false, must have an adequate idea of true and false.
  • The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things.
    • Prop. 7
  • Mind and body are one and the same individual which is conceived now under the attribute of thought, and now under the attribute of extension.
    • Prop. 21
  • He, who knows how to distinguish between true and false, must have an adequate idea of true and false.
    • Prop. 42: proof
    • Variant translation: He who would distinguish the true from the false must have an adequate idea of what is true and false.
  • He, who has a true idea, simultaneously knows that he has a true idea, and cannot doubt of the truth of the thing perceived.
    • Prop. 43
  • Will and Intellect are one and the same thing.
    • Prop. 49: corollary

Part III : On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions

Full text online
Fear cannot be without hope nor hope without fear.
  • They seem to have conceived man in nature as a kingdom within a kingdom. For they believe that man disturbs rather than follows the course of nature, and that he has absolute power in his actions, and is not determined in the by anything else than himself. They attribute the cause of human weakness and inconstancy not to the ordinary power of nature, but to some defect or other in human nature, wherefore they deplore, ridicule, despise, or what is most common of all, abuse it: and he that can carp in the most eloquent or acute manner at the weakness of the human mind is held by his fellows as almost divine.
    • Preface
  • Fear cannot be without hope nor hope without fear.
    • Definition 13: explanation
  • Surely human affairs would be far happier if the power in men to be silent were the same as that to speak. But experience more than sufficiently teaches that men govern nothing with more difficulty than their tongues.
    • Prop. 2: note
  • Pride is therefore pleasure arising from a man's thinking too highly of himself.
    • Prop. 26: note
Hatred which is completely vanquished by love passes into love: and love is thereupon greater than if hatred had not preceded it...
  • So long as a man imagines that he cannot do this or that, so long is he determined not to do it: and consequently, so long it is impossible to him that he should do it.
    • Prop. 28: explanation
  • It may easily come to pass that a vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance.
    • Prop. 30: note
  • Hatred which is completely vanquished by love passes into love: and love is thereupon greater than if hatred had not preceded it.
    • Prop. 44
  • Self-complacency is pleasure accompanied by the idea of oneself as cause.
    • Prop. 51: note
  • It therefore comes to pass that everyone is fond of relating his own exploits and displaying the strength both of his body and his mind, and that men are on this account a nuisance one to the other.
    • Prop. 54: note
  • I refer those actions which work out the good of the agent to courage, and those which work out the good of others to nobility. Therefore temperance, sobriety, and presence of mind in danger, etc., are species of courage; but modesty, clemency, etc., are species of nobility.
    • Prop. 59: note

Part IV : Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions

Full text online
One and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent.
  • As for the terms good and bad, they indicate no positive quality in things regarded in themselves, but are merely modes of thinking, or notions which we form from the comparison of things with one another. Thus one and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent. For instance music is good to the melancholy, bad to those who mourn, and neither good nor bad to the deaf.
    • Preface
  • Man is a social animal.
    • Prop. 35: note
  • Men will find that they can prepare with mutual aid far more easily what they need, and avoid far more easily the perils which beset them on all sides, by united force.
    • Prop. 35: note
  • Although men, as a rule, are a prey to many emotions — and very few are found who are always assailed by one and the same — yet there are cases, where one and the same emotion remains obstinately fixed. We sometimes see men so absorbed in one object, that, although it be not present, they think they have it before them; when this is the case with a man who is not asleep, we say he is delirious or mad; nor are those persons who are inflamed with love, and who dream all night and all day about nothing but their mistress, or some woman, considered as less mad, for they are made objects of ridicule. But when a miser thinks of nothing but gain or money, or when an ambitious man thinks of nothing but glory, they are not reckoned to be mad, because they are generally harmful, and are thought worthy of being hated. But, in reality, Avarice, Ambition, Lust, &c., are species of madness, though they may not be reckoned among diseases.
    • Prop. 44: note
    • Variant translation: Avarice, ambition, lust, etc., are nothing but species of madness.
Minds are not conquered by force, but by love and high-mindedness.
  • Hatred can never be good. ... Here, and in what follows, I mean by hatred only hatred towards men.
    • Prop. 45
  • He whose honour is rooted in popular approval must, day by day, anxiously strive, act, and scheme in order to retain his reputation. For the populace is variable and inconstant, so that, if a reputation be not kept up, it quickly withers away. Everyone wishes to catch popular applause for himself, and readily represses the fame of others. The object of the strife being estimated as the greatest of all goods, each combatant is seized with a fierce desire to put down his rivals in every possible way, till he who at last comes out victorious is more proud of having done harm to others than of having done good to himself. This sort of honour, then, is really empty, being nothing.
    • Prop. 58: note
    • Variant translation: He whose honor depends on the opinion of the mob must day by day strive with the greatest anxiety, act and scheme in order to retain his reputation. For the mob is varied and inconstant, and therefore if a reputation is not carefully preserved it dies quickly.
  • A free man thinks of death least of all things; and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life.
    • Prop. 67
    • Variant translation: A free man thinks of nothing less than of death; and his wisdom is a meditation not on death but on life.
It is before all things useful to men to associate their ways of life, to bind themselves together with such bonds as they think most fitted to gather them all into unity, and generally to do whatsoever serves to strengthen friendship.
  • In refusing benefits caution must be used lest we seem to despise or to refuse them for fear of having to repay them in kind.
    • Prop. 70: note
  • All our endeavours or desires so follow from the necessity of our nature, that they can be understood either through it alone, as their proximate cause, or by virtue of our being a part of nature, which cannot be adequately conceived through itself without other individuals.
    • Appendix, 1
  • In so far as men are influenced by envy or any kind of hatred, one towards another, they are at variance, and are therefore to be feared in proportion, as they are more powerful than their fellows.
    Yet minds are not conquered by force, but by love and high-mindedness.
    • Appendix, 10 - 11
  • It is before all things useful to men to associate their ways of life, to bind themselves together with such bonds as they think most fitted to gather them all into unity, and generally to do whatsoever serves to strengthen friendship.
    But for this there is need of skill and watchfulness. For men are diverse (seeing that those who live under the guidance of reason are few), yet are they generally envious and more prone to revenge than to sympathy. No small force of character is therefore required to take everyone as he is, and to restrain one's self from imitating the emotions of others. But those who carp at mankind, and are more skilled in railing at vice than in instilling virtue, and who break rather than strengthen men's dispositions, are hurtful both to themselves and others.
    • Appendix, 12 - 13
In so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true...
  • To give aid to every poor man is far beyond the power and the advantage of any private person. For the riches of any private person are wholly inadequate to meet such a call. Again, an individual man's resources of character are too limited for him to be able to make all men his friends. Hence providing for the poor is a duty, which falls on the State as a whole, and has regard only to the general advantage.
    • Appendix, 17
    • Variant translation: To give aid to every poor man is far beyond the reach and power of every man ... Care of the poor is incumbent on society as a whole.
  • Flattery begets harmony; but only by means of the vile offence of slavishness or treachery. None are more readily taken with flattery than the proud, who wish to be first, but are not.
    • Appendix, 21
  • In so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true: wherefore, in so far as we have a right understanding of these things, the endeavour of the better part of ourselves is in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.

Part V: Of the Power of the Understanding, or of Human Freedom

Full text online
The mind has greater power over the emotions and is less subject thereto, in so far as it understands all things as necessary.
The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but there remains of it something which is eternal.
How would it be possible, if salvation were ready to our hand, and could without great labour be found, that it should be by almost all men neglected? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.
  • An emotion, which is a passion, ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof.
    • Prop. 3,
    • Variant translation: Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.
      • As translated in From Death-camp to Existentialism : A Psychiatrist's Path to a New Therapy (1959) by Viktor Emil Frankl, p. 74
  • The mind has greater power over the emotions and is less subject thereto, in so far as it understands all things as necessary.
    • Prop. 6
  • Those are most desirous of honor and glory who cry out the loudest of its abuse and the vanity of the world.
    • Prop. 10: note
  • He who clearly and distinctly understands himself and his emotions loves God, and so much the more in proportion as he more understands himself and his emotions.
    • Prop. 15
  • God is without passions, neither is he affected by any emotion of pleasure or pain. ... Strictly speaking, God does not love or hate anyone.
    • Prop. 17 and corollary
  • The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but there remains of it something which is eternal.
    • Prop. 23
  • It is not possible that we should remember that we existed before our body, for our body can bear no trace of such existence, neither can eternity be defined in terms of time, or have any relation to time. But, notwithstanding, we feel and know that we are eternal. For the mind feels those things that it conceives by understanding, no less than those things that it remembers.
    • Prop. 23, note
  • The more we understand particular things, the more do we understand God.
    • Prop. 24
  • Whatsoever the mind understands under the form of eternity, it does not understand by virtue of conceiving the present actual existence of the body, but by virtue of conceiving the essence of the body under the form of eternity.
    • Prop 29
  • He, who possesses a body capable of the greatest number of activities, possesses a mind whereof the greatest part is eternal.
    • Prop. 39
  • Most people seem to believe that they are free, in so far as they may obey their lusts, and that they cede their rights, in so far as they are bound to live according to the commandments of the divine law. They therefore believe that piety, religion, and, generally, all things attributable to firmness of mind, are burdens, which, after death, they hope to lay aside, and to receive the reward for their bondage, that is, for their piety and religion ; it is not only by this hope, but also, and chiefly, by the fear of being horribly punished after death, that they are induced to live according to the divine commandments, so far as their feeble and infirm spirit will carry them.
    If men had not this hope and this fear, but believed that the mind perishes with the body, and that no hope of prolonged life remains for the wretches who are broken down with the burden of piety, they would return to their own inclinations, controlling everything in accordance with their lusts, and desiring to obey fortune rather than themselves. Such a course appears to me not less absurd than if a man, because he does not believe that he can by wholesome food sustain his body for ever, should wish to cram himself with poisons and deadly fare ; or if, because he sees that the mind is not eternal or immortal, he should prefer to be out of his mind altogether, and to live without the use of reason; these ideas are so absurd as to be scarcely worth refuting.
    • Prop. 41, note
  • Blessedness is not the reward of virtue, but virtue itself; neither do we rejoice therein, because we control our lusts, but, contrariwise, because we rejoice therein, we are able to control our lusts.
    • Prop. 42
  • Since human power in controlling the emotions consists solely in the understanding, it follows that no one rejoices in blessedness, because he has controlled his lusts, but, contrariwise, his power of controlling his lusts arises from this blessedness itself.
    • Prop. 42, proof
  • The ignorant man is not only distracted in various ways by external causes without ever gaining the true acquiescence of his spirit, but moreover lives, as it were unwitting of himself, and of God, and of things, and as soon as he ceases to suffer, ceases also to be.
    Whereas the wise man, in so far as he is regarded as such, is scarcely at all disturbed in spirit, but, being conscious of himself, and of God, and of things, by a certain eternal necessity, never ceases to be, but always possesses true acquiescence of his spirit.
    If the way which I have pointed out as leading to this result seems exceedingly hard, it may nevertheless be discovered. Needs must it be hard, since it is so seldom found. How would it be possible, if salvation were ready to our hand, and could without great labour be found, that it should be by almost all men neglected? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.
    • Prop. 42, note

Quotes about Spinoza

The mightiest love was granted him
Love that does not expect to be loved. ~ Jorge Luis Borges
  • I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now, was inspired by "instinct." Not only is his overtendency like mine—namely to make all knowledge the most powerful affect—but in five main points of his doctrine I recognize myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil. Even though the divergencies are admittedly tremendous, they are due more to the difference in time, culture, and science. In summa: my lonesomeness, which, as on very high mountains, often made it hard for me to breathe and make my blood rush out, is now at least a twosomeness. Strange! Incidentally, I am not at all as well as I had hoped. Exceptional weather here too! Eternal change of atmospheric conditions!—that will yet drive me out of Europe! I must have clear skies for months, else I get nowhere. Already six severe attacks of two or three days each!! — With affectionate love, Your friend.
  • Time carries him as the river carries
    A leaf in the downstream water.
    No matter. The enchanted one insists
    And shapes God with delicate geometry.

    Since his illness, since his birth,
    He goes on constructing God with the word.
    The mightiest love was granted him
    Love that does not expect to be loved.
    • "Baruch Spinoza" by Jorge Luis Borges, as translated in Spinoza and Other Heretics: The Marrano of Reason (1989) by Yirmiyahu Yovel
  • Of Bruno, as of Spinoza, it may be said that he was "God-intoxicated." He felt that the Divine Excellence had its abode in the very heart of Nature and within his own body and spirit. Indwelling in every dewdrop as in the innumerable host of heaven, in the humblest flower and in the mind of man, he found the living spirit of God, setting forth the Divine glory, making the Divine perfection and inspiring with the Divine love.
    • William Boulting, in Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom (1916) online excerpt
  • "Spinoza did not seek to found a sect, and he founded none"; yet all philosophy after him is permeated with his thought.
How much do I love that noble man
More than I could tell with words
I fear though he'll remain alone
With a holy halo of his own. ~ Albert Einstein
  • The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.
  • I believe in Spinoza's God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.
  • These distinctions make sense only when AR [absolute perfection in some respects, relative perfection in all others] is assumed (hence Spinoza's failure, who assumed mere A). Just as AR is the whole positive content of perfection, so CW, or the conception of the Creator-and-the-Whole-of-what-he-has-created as constituting one life, the super-whole which in its everlasting essence is uncreated (and does not necessitate just the parts which the whole has) but in its de facto concreteness is created — this panentheistic doctrine contains all of deism and pandeism except their arbitrary negations. Thus ARCW, or absolute-relative panentheism, is the one doctrine that really states the whole of what all theists, if not all atheists as/well, are implicitly talking about.
    • Charles Hartshorne, in Man's Vision of God and the Logic of Theism (1964) ISBN 020800498X p. 348
  • Thought must begin by placing itself at the standpoint of Spinozism; to be a follower of Spinoza is the essential commencement of all Philosophy.
  • Through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Bruno's ideas were widely imparted, borrowed, sounded; almost never, though, with the name Giordano Bruno attached to them. Kepler once chided Galileo for omitting his debt to Bruno; yet we can discern Kepler's own indifference... Later generations would evoke Bruno's writings to the phrase, without quoting or acknowledging him. Recent scholarship on Spinoza, for example, cites Bruno's powerful exertion on his thought about infinity and on his style. Never does Spinoza cite Bruno by name.
  • Ein Gottbetrunkener Mensch
  • Woe to him who in passing should hurl an insult at this gentle and pensive head. He would be punished, as all vulgar souls are punished, by his very vulgarity, and by his incapacity to conceive what is divine. This man, from his granite pedestal, will point out to all men the way of blessedness which he found; and ages hence, the cultivated traveler, passing by this spot, will say in his heart, "The truest vision ever had of God came, perhaps, here."
  • My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety toward the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.
  • With the judgment of the angels and the sentence of the saints, we anathematize, execrate, curse and cast out Baruch de Espinoza, the whole of the sacred community assenting, in presence of the sacred books with the six-hundred-and-thirteen precepts written therein, pronouncing against him the malediction wherewith Elisha cursed the children, and all the maledictions written in the Book of the Law. Let him be accursed by day, and accursed by night; let him be accursed in his lying down, and accursed in his rising up; accursed in going out and accursed in coming in. May the Lord never more pardon or acknowledge him; may the wrath and displeasure of the Lord burn henceforth against this man, load him with all the curses written in the Book of the Law, and blot out his name from under the sky; may the Lord sever him from all the tribes of Israel, weight him with all the maledictions of the firmament contained in the Book of Law; and may all ye who are obedient to the Lord your God be saved this day.
    Hereby then are all admonished that none hold converse with him by word of mouth, none hold communication with him by writing; that no one do him any service, no one abide under the same roof with him, no one approach within four cubits length of him, and no one read any document dictated by him, or written by his hand.
    • Rite of expulsion from the Jewish community, as translated in Benedict de Spinoza : His Life, Correspondence, and Ethics (1870) by Robert Willis

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