Biography of Benedict Spinoza

Benedikt Spinoza is a Dutch philosopher of Jewish origin.

Childhood and early years

Baruch de Spinoza, the second son of Miguel de Espinoza and Ana Deborah, was born in Amsterdam. His father was a Portuguese Jew who traded sheep’s wool, whose merchant business flourished. Mother died when the boy was only six years old.

Young Spinoza excels in learning languages: Portuguese, Hebrew, Spanish, Dutch, French and Latin. Primary education Spinoza, brought up in the best Jewish traditions, gets in a yeshiva, studying the canons of the Torah Koran diligently.

The boy studied as teachers – supporters of traditional views, as well as progressive-minded teachers, and therefore had a multifaceted thinking. At school Spinoza shone with talents, having all the necessary dignities to become a rabbi in the future. However, the premature, tragic death of his elder brother in 1650 forces him to leave school and pursue a family affair.

Scientific activity

In 1653, Spinoza began the study of the Latin language under the guidance of Francis van der Ende, a freethinker who opened the door to the boy for a new world of scholasticism and modern philosophy.

After the death of his father in 1654, Spinoza spends eleven months in reading the kadish – Jewish prayer of the sorrowful. He renounces the inheritance in favor of his sister Rebeki.

For a while, Spinoza is involved in the family business of importing wool to Holland, which, however, faces considerable financial difficulties during the First Anglo-Dutch War. Seeking to get rid of creditors, Spinoza declares himself deprived of his inheritance and departs from the affairs.

After that, he inherits the estate of his mother, and once and for all devotes himself to philosophy and optics.

He takes on a Latin name, Benedict de Spinoza, and is engaged in teaching. Here begins an important stage of his life, because it is at this time that Spinoza, through his connections with the anti-clerical sect of the patrons, gets acquainted with rationalism.

Spinoza closely watches how a number of anti-church groups rebel against the generally accepted dogmas. This new direction of philosophical thought forms his own ideology, which was the cause of the strife between him and the authorities, as well as representatives of traditional philosophy.

Increasingly, he opposes traditionalism, and in 1656, fearing that the Jewish community of Amsterdam might be subjected to persecution for contact with him, representatives of the religious school of the Talmud Torah put a ban on Spinoza’s educational work for preaching radical theology.

However, this news not only did not embarrass the philosopher, but was received with great relief, since radical views had long ago suggested him to the need for separation from the Talmud-Torah congregation.

Spinoza no longer visits the synagogue and, in the end, expresses a feeling of profound disgust and antagonism towards Judaism. There is an opinion that later he brought an “apology” to the elders of this church, in which he defended his position against orthodox religion. However, some researchers believe that no apologies have been brought at all.

Rumors that, after the expulsion from the Judaic church, Spinoza converted to Christianity, have little grounds for themselves, but he leaves the Latin name to himself. Despite the fact that Spinoza has close ties with the Christian community and even lives in a collegiate settlement, he will never receive baptism, and therefore becomes the first secular... Jew of modern Europe.

Following the ban and exile from Amsterdam, Spinoza lives for some time in the village of Uderkerk-aan-de-Amstel, but soon returns to the city. During his stay in Amsterdam, he takes private lessons in philosophy and diligently studies the structure of lenses.

Somewhere between 1660-1661 g. Spinoza left the city forever and went to live in Rijnsburg in the community of Leiden. It is here that his most important works will appear.

In 1663, Spinoza wrote one of the main works of his life, “A Treatise on God, Man and His Well-Being.” This scientific work was a desire to bring to the world their views on metaphysics, epistemology and morality.

At the same time, he is working on writing his own interpretation of Descartes’s Essays on Philosophy, which he will end all in the same year of 1663. This interpretation will be the only work published under his name in his entire life. In the same year, Spinoza moved to Voorburg.

His meetings with various scientists, philosophers and theologians, taking place in this city, will form the basis of the new work “Ethics”. To make a living, Spinoza works in a workshop for making lenses.

And at the same time he is working on his work “Theological and political treatise” in defense of secular and constitutional authorities, which will be published anonymously in 1670. Scandalous work caused a storm of indignation in society and was officially banned in 1674.

In 1670 Spinoza moved to The Hague. Here he is working on writing the Political Treatise, as well as a number of other works, including the Treatise on the Rainbow and scientific notes on calculating probability. In addition, Spinoza continues to work on the work in the Hebrew language, and also takes up the Dutch translation of the Bible, which will soon be destroyed.

His masterpiece “Ethics” Spinoza will end in 1676. In this work he mercilessly criticizes the traditional beliefs and philosophical concepts of God, human being, nature and the universe as a whole. In the nines he carries religious, theological and moral principles. The paradox is that it is in this work that Spinoza proclaims that God is peace, identifying God with nature.

Personal life and heritage

After Spinoza, having adopted the Latin name, begins to teach at school, he first has romantic feelings for the daughter of the teacher of the same school, Clara. However, his love was unrequited, and soon the girl rejects him for the sake of a man more wealthy and successful.

In 1676 Spinoza’s health was shaken, and, throughout the year, his condition would only worsen. February 21, 1677, due to lung disease acquired during the harmful work in the studio for polishing the lenses, Spinoza’s heart stopped. He was buried in the church cemetery at the New Christian Church in The Hague.

According to his will, “Ethics”, along with his other works, was published posthumously in 1677. The work of his whole life, “Ethics”, consisted of five sections: “About God,” “Nature and the origins of human thought,” “Nature and the beginning of emotions, “” Fettering the man, or the Power of emotion “and” The power of understanding, or the freedom of man. “

Interesting Facts

The Dutch philosopher Spinoza was a radical thinker whose posthumous work “Ethics” revolutionized philosophical thought and made him the greatest rationalist of the seventeenth century.


Biography of Benedict Spinoza