|Birth Day:||November 24, 1632|
|Death Date:||21 February 1677(1677-02-21) (aged 44)
The Hague, Dutch Republic
|Birth Place:||Amsterdam, Dutch Republic, Dutch|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Baruch Spinoza died on 21 February 1677(1677-02-21) (aged 44)
The Hague, Dutch Republic.
Baruch Espinosa was born on 24 November 1632 in the Jodenbuurt in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was the second son of Miguel de Espinoza, a successful, although not wealthy, Portuguese Sephardic Jewish merchant in Amsterdam. His mother, Ana Débora, Miguel's second wife, died when Baruch was only six years old. Spinoza's mother tongue was Portuguese, although he also knew Hebrew, Spanish, Dutch, perhaps French, and later Latin. Although he wrote in Latin, Spinoza learned the language only late in his youth.
Spinoza adopted the Latin name Benedictus de Spinoza, began boarding with Van den Enden, and began teaching in his school. Following an anecdote in an early biography by Johannes Colerus [de], he is said to have fallen in love with his teacher's daughter, Clara, but she rejected him for a richer student. (This story has been discounted on the basis that Clara Maria van den Enden was born in 1643 and would have been no more than about 13 years old when Spinoza left Amsterdam. In 1671 she married Dirck Kerckring.)
Spinoza's father, Miguel, died in 1654 when Spinoza was 21. He duly recited Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning, for eleven months as required by Jewish law. When his sister Rebekah disputed his inheritance seeking it for herself, on principle he sued her to seek a court judgment, he won the case, but then renounced claim to the court’s judgment in his favour and assigned his inheritance to her.
After his father's death in 1654, Spinoza and his younger brother Gabriel (Abraham) ran the family importing business. The business ran into serious financial difficulties, however, perhaps as a result of the First Anglo-Dutch War. In March 1656, Spinoza filed suit with the Amsterdam municipal authorities to be declared an orphan in order to escape his father's business debts and so that he could inherit his mother's estate (which at first was incorporated into his father's estate) without it being subject to his father's creditors. In addition, after having made substantial contributions to the Talmud Torah synagogue in 1654 and 1655, he reduced his December 1655 contribution and his March 1656 pledge to nominal amounts (and the March 1656 pledge was never paid).
On 27 July 1656, the Talmud Torah congregation of Amsterdam issued a writ of cherem (Hebrew: חרם, a kind of ban, shunning, ostracism, expulsion, or excommunication) against the 23-year-old Spinoza. The following document translates the official record of the censure:
After the cherem, the Amsterdam municipal authorities expelled Spinoza from Amsterdam, "responding to the appeals of the rabbis, and also of the Calvinist clergy, who had been vicariously offended by the existence of a free thinker in the synagogue". He spent a brief time in or near the village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, but returned soon afterwards to Amsterdam and lived there quietly for several years, giving private philosophy lessons and grinding lenses, before leaving the city in 1660 or 1661.
In 1660 or 1661, Spinoza moved from Amsterdam to Rijnsburg (near Leiden), the headquarters of the Collegiants. In Rijnsburg, he began work on his Descartes' "Principles of Philosophy" as well as on his masterpiece, the Ethics. In 1663, he returned briefly to Amsterdam, where he finished and published Descartes' "Principles of Philosophy," the only work published in his lifetime under his own name, and then moved the same year to Voorburg.
Spinoza engaged in correspondence from December 1664 to June 1665 with Willem van Blijenbergh, 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 his own manuscript "Refutation of Spinoza," but he is also known to have met with Spinoza on at least one occasion (as mentioned above), and his own work bears some striking resemblances to specific important parts of Spinoza's philosophy (see: Monadology).
Spinoza also corresponded with Peter Serrarius, a radical Protestant and millenarian merchant. Serrarius was a patron to Spinoza after Spinoza left the Jewish community and even had letters sent and received for the philosopher to and from third parties. Spinoza and Serrarius maintained their relationship until Serrarius' death in 1669. By the beginning of the 1660s, Spinoza's name became more widely known, and eventually Gottfried Leibniz and Henry Oldenburg paid him visits, as stated in Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic. Spinoza corresponded with Oldenburg for the rest of his short life.
In Voorburg, Spinoza continued work on the Ethics and corresponded with scientists, philosophers, and theologians throughout Europe. He also wrote and published his Theological Political Treatise in 1670, in defence of secular and constitutional government, and in support of Jan de Witt, the Grand Pensionary of the Netherlands, against the Stadtholder, the Prince of Orange. Leibniz visited Spinoza and claimed that Spinoza's life was in danger when supporters of the Prince of Orange murdered de Witt in 1672. While published anonymously, the work did not long remain so, and de Witt's enemies characterized it as "forged in Hell by a renegade Jew and the Devil, and issued with the knowledge of Jan de Witt." It was condemned in 1673 by the Synod of the Reformed Church and formally banned in 1674.
In 1670, Spinoza moved to The Hague where he lived on a small pension from Jan de Witt and a small annuity from the brother of his dead friend, Simon de Vries. He worked on the Ethics, wrote an unfinished Hebrew grammar, began his Political Treatise, wrote two scientific essays ("On the Rainbow" and "On the Calculation of Chances"), and began a Dutch translation of the Bible (which he later destroyed).
In a letter, written in December 1675 and sent to Albert Burgh, who wanted to defend Catholicism, Spinoza clearly explained his view of both Catholicism and Islam. He stated that both religions are made "to deceive the people and to constrain the minds of men". He also states that Islam far surpasses Catholicism in doing so.
In 1676, Spinoza met with Leibniz in The Hague for a discussion of the Ethics, his principal philosophical work which he had completed earlier that year. This meeting was described in Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic. His health began to fail that same year, and he died on 21 February 1677 at the age of 44. His premature death was said to be due to lung illness, possibly silicosis as a result of breathing in glass dust from the lenses that he ground. Later, a shrine was made of his home in The Hague.
Spinoza earned a modest living from lens-grinding and instrument making, yet he was involved in important optical investigations of the day while living in Voorburg, through correspondence and friendships with scientist Christiaan Huygens and mathematician Johannes Hudde, including debate over microscope design with Huygens, favouring small objectives and collaborating on calculations for a prospective 40-foot (12 m) focal length telescope which would have been one of the largest in Europe at the time. He was known for making not just lenses but also telescopes and microscopes. The quality of Spinoza's lenses was much praised by Christiaan Huygens, among others. In fact, his technique and instruments were so esteemed that Constantijn Huygens ground a "clear and bright" telescope lens with focal length of 42 feet (13 m) in 1687 from one of Spinoza's grinding dishes, ten years after his death. He was said by anatomist Theodor Kerckring to have produced an "excellent" microscope, the quality of which was the foundation of Kerckring's anatomy claims. During his time as a lens and instrument maker, he was also supported by small but regular donations from close friends.
In 1785, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi published a condemnation of Spinoza's pantheism, after Gotthold 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 issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time.
By 1879, Spinoza’s pantheism was praised by many, but was considered by some to be alarming and dangerously inimical.
When George Santayana graduated from college, he published an essay, "The Ethical Doctrine of Spinoza", in The Harvard Monthly. Later, he wrote an introduction to Spinoza's Ethics and "De intellectus emendatione". In 1932, Santayana was invited to present an essay (published as "Ultimate Religion") 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.
David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of the new state of Israel, called Spinoza "the first Zionist of the last 300 years", and in 1953 published an article in praise of the philosopher, renewing discussion about his excommunication. Israeli politicians, rabbis and Jewish press worldwide joined the debate. Some call for the cherem to be reversed. However, none of them had the authority to rescind it; this can only be done by the Amsterdam Talmud Torah congregation.
Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries grew even more interested in Spinoza, often from a left-wing or Marxist perspective. Karl Marx liked Spinoza's account of the universe, interpreting it as materialistic. The philosophers Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri and Étienne Balibar have each drawn upon Spinoza's philosophy. Deleuze's doctoral thesis, published in 1968, calls him "the prince of philosophers". Nietzsche esteemed few philosophers, but he esteemed Spinoza. However, Nietzsche never read Spinoza's works themselves, but learned about Spinoza from Kuno Fischer's History of Modern Philosophy.
In September 2012, the Portugees-Israëlietische Gemeente te Amsterdam (Portuguese-Israelite commune of Amsterdam) asked the chief rabbi of their community, Haham Pinchas Toledano, to reconsider the cherem after consulting several Spinoza experts. However he declined to remove it, citing Spinoza's "preposterous ideas, where he was tearing apart the very fundamentals of our religion".
In December 2015, the Amsterdam congregation organised a symposium to discuss lifting the cherem, inviting scholars from around the world to form an advisory committee at the meeting, including Steven Nadler of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A debate was held in front of over 500 people, discussing (according to Nadler) "what were Spinoza's philosophical views, what were the historical circumstances of the ban, what might be the advantages of lifting the cherem, and what might be the disadvantages?". Most of the community would have liked to have seen the ban lifted, but the rabbi of the congregation ruled that it should hold, on the basis that he had no greater wisdom than his predecessors, and that Spinoza's views had not become less problematic over time.
Currently, Baruch Spinoza is 390 years, 4 months and 2 days old. Baruch Spinoza will celebrate 391st birthday on a Friday 24th of November 2023. Below we countdown to Baruch Spinoza upcoming birthday.
Happy Birthday, Baruch Spinoza ! Substance Matters
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