Philosophy of Benedict Spinoza

Topics: Metaphysics, Political philosophy, Atheism Pages: 5 (1576 words) Published: September 24, 2013
If one were to make a list of iconoclastic and radical thinkers, Benedict Spinoza would rank high.  His great and enduring work, Ethics, continues to have renewed impact, currently among environmentalists and ecologically minded thinkers.  Spinoza wrote numerous philosophical, political, and religious criticism works. His efforts consistently express a mind set in favor of religious tolerance and in opposition to traditional religious orthodoxy.  In his two major works, Tractatus Thologico-Politicus and Ethics present interpretations of spiritual concepts that continue to offend some religious believers and provide an avenue of belief for those who aver traditional religion.  Born in Amsterdam on November 24, 1632 in a jewish community and died in The Hague on February 20, 1677 at the age of 44. Latinized his given name Baruch(blessed) using the form Benedictus. Spinoza lived an outwardly simple life as a lens grinder, turning down rewards and honors throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions. The family inheritance he gave to his sister. On 27 July 1656, the Talmud Torah congregation of Amsterdam issued a writ of cherem (Jew)/Herem(Hebrew), a kind of ban, shunning, ostracism, expulsion, or excommunication against the 23 year old Spinoza.

Amsterdam and Rotterdam operated as important cosmopolitan centers where merchant ships from many parts of the world brought people of various customs and beliefs. Some possibility of free thought and shelter from the crushing hand of ecclesiastical authority. Most significantly, he came into contact with so-called ‘free-thinking’ Protestants – dissenters from the dominant Calvinism – who maintained a lively interest in a wide range of theological issues, as well as in the latest developments in philosophy and science. In order to discuss their interests, these free-thinkers organized themselves into small groups, they called colleges, which met on a regular basis. Spinoza may have attended such meetings as early as the first half of the 1650′s, and it is most likely here that he received his first exposure to Cartesian thought. His intellectual horizons were expanding and he was experiencing a restlessness that drove him to look further afield. It was at this time that he placed himself under the tutelage of an ex-Jesuit, Latinist,a medical doctor, Franciscus Van den Enden, who was notorious for his allegedly irreligious cast of mind, a passionate advocate of democratic political ideals. Spinoza’s increasingly unorthodox views and, perhaps, laxity in his observance of the Jewish law strained his relations with the community. Tensions became so great that resulted in his excommunication .

Most Important works
a) Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrate (simply, Ethics)
b)Tractatus Theologico-politicus
c)Brief Treatise on God, Man and His Happiness
d)Tractaus de intellectus emendation
e)Cogitata metaphysica

A . Against dualism
“God is the infinite, necessarily existing (that is, uncaused), unique substance of the universe. There is only one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else that is, is in God.” Spinoza believed God exists and contends that "Deus sive Natura" ("God or Nature") is a being of infinitely many attributes, is abstract and impersonal. 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, the universal substance consists of both body and mind, that it is a single identity there being no difference between these aspects. 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 believes that:

1)a God that does not rule over the universe by providence, but a God which itself is the...
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