World View II
February 21, 2013
“I call him free who is led solely by reason.”
Baruch Spinoza was born in Amsterdam, while the exact day is unknown, we know he was born sometime in 1632. He attended Talmud Torah School, where he was taught the fundamentals of how to be considered an upright Jewish man. His family were Marranos (forced converts to Christianity) who fled their original country of Portugal to escape the inquisition. (Honderich 545) His mother, Hannah Spinoza died when Baruch was six years old, she was the second of Michael Spinoza’s three wives. He remarried after she died. Michael, however, died when Baruch was twenty-two years old. The lack of fatherhood during this age could have caused Baruch Spinoza to, in the lack of scolding, be open with his newfound “heresies”. He ran the family business with his half-brother, Gabriel. He was mentored by Franciscus Van Den Enden at this age, who was an outspoken atheist. Van Den Enden taught him a little more than how to diagram a sentence. He was taught a more atheistic, scientific outlook based on facts and not faith. Van Den Enden was outspokenly heretical and taught Spinoza, through bully pulpit, to think the same way. Spinoza’s reorientation caused him to relax in his performance of the direction of the Jewish Law required of all citizens at this time. Spinoza was excommunicated for his new views in 1656, no one was allowed to talk to him, to do business with him, and if possible, not look at him. Excommunication made Spinoza an untouchable. This did not keep him from studying with Van Den Enden, he was dedicated to these new beliefs he had found. There is little information in the history books of what directly followed his excommunication. This excommunication certainly did not quell his appetite for knowledge, he was, if anything, stepping up his campaign to know what he could not know. He studied the works of Gersonides and...