Baruch Spinoza was a Jewish-Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Sephardi origin. One of the early thinkers of the Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and the universe, came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy.
Baruch Espinoza was born on 24 November 1632 in the Jodenbuurt in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
He developed highly controversial ideas regarding the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible and the nature of the Divine.
Jewish religious authorities issued a ‘herem’ against him, causing him to be effectively expelled and shunned by Jewish society at age 23, including by his own family.
Inspired by the groundbreaking ideas of René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza became a leading philosophical figure of the Dutch Golden Age.
His books were later added to the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books. He was frequently called an “atheist” by contemporaries, although nowhere in his work does Spinoza refute the existence of God.
Spinoza’s magnum opus, the Ethics, was published posthumously in the year of his death. The work opposed Descartes‘ philosophy of mind-body dualism and earned Spinoza recognition as one of Western philosophy’s most important thinkers.
In it, “Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely“.
Spinoza lived an outwardly simple life as an optical lens grinder, collaborating on microscope and telescope lens designs with Constantijn and Christiaan Huygens.
He turned down rewards and honors throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions. He died at the age of 44 in 1677 from a lung illness.
Baruch Spinoza Quotes:
1. “The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”
2. “The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure….you are above everything distressing.”
3. “Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice.”
4. “The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is.”
5. “I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.”
6. “Happiness is not the reward of virtue, but is virtue itself; nor do we delight in happiness because we restrain from our lusts; but on the contrary, because we delight in it, therefore we are able to restrain them.”
7. “Hatred is increased by being reciprocated, and can, on the other hand, be destroyed by love. Hatred which is completely vanquished by love passes into love; and love is thereupon greater than id hatred had not preceded it. ”
8. “A free man thinks of nothing less than of death, and his wisdom is a meditation, not on death, but on life.”
9. “Nature offers nothing that can be called this man’s rather than another’s; but under nature, everything belongs to all.”
10. “The less the mind understands and the more things it perceives, the greater its power of feigning is; and the more things it understands, the more that power is diminished.”
11. “We feel and know that we are eternal.”
12. “I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion.”
13. “The order and connection of ideas in the same as the order and connection of things”
14. “Every person should embrace those [dogmas] that he, being the best judge of himself, feels will do most to strengthen in him love of justice.”