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Baruch Spinoza was a forerunner of radical thought and the founder of Spinozism, a new school of thought. He disliked traditional teachings and believed in conventional beliefs from an early age, and as a result, he became one of the finest rationalists of the 17th century. His greatest book, ‘The Ethics,’ was published after his death and established him as one of Western philosophy’s most prominent philosophers. His critique of traditional beliefs and philosophical concepts of God, human beings, nature, and the universe as a whole was included in the book. It also made scathing remarks about faiths, theology, and moral ideas. His ideals and convictions made him a divisive figure throughout his life. They were not accepted by Jewish religious groups, and they were not regarded favorably by Christian congregations. His works were only recognized as great literary masterpieces in the 18th and late 19th centuries. Spinoza, in addition to being a philosopher, was also a lens grinder who made a living by grinding lenses.

Childhood and Adolescence

Baruch de Spinoza was the couple’s second son, born in Amsterdam to Miguel de Espinoza and Ana D bora. His father was a prosperous Sephardic Jewish merchant from Portugal. He lost his mother when he was six years old.
Spinoza was a multilingual young man who spoke Portuguese, Hebrew, Spanish, Dutch, French, and Latin. He was raised in a traditional Jewish home and had his early education at the Keter Torah yeshiva.

He was educated by both traditional and progressive teachers, and he was able to combine the best of both worlds. He was an outstanding student with the potential to become a rabbi. In 1650, however, his elder brother’s untimely and terrible death caused him to abandon his schooling and instead work in the family company.

Career of Baruch Spinoza

He started learning Latin with Frances van den Enden in 1653. Frances was a free thinker who opened the former to a fresh stream of thought, allowing him to enter scholastic and modern philosophy through new doors.
Following his father’s death in 1654, he spent eleven months chanting Kaddish, the Jewish sorrow prayer. He turned down the fortune and instead gave it to his sister Rebekah.

He ran the family importing business for a short time during the First Anglo-Dutch War, which experienced severe financial difficulties. In order to avoid creditors, he declared himself an orphan and renounced his business responsibilities.

After inheriting his mother’s inheritance, he decided to devote his life to philosophy and optics.
Benedictus de Spinoza was his Latin name, and he began working as a teacher. The anti-clerical sect of Remonstrants introduced him to rationality during this period of his life.

He also witnessed anti-Church movements that challenged traditional dogmas. Because of his exposure to the new way of thinking, he was able to establish his own views, which led to conflicts with authorities and traditionalists.
He frequently spoke out against traditionalists, and as a result, he was banned by the Talmud Torah congregation in 1656 for his radical theological views that he expressed in public, as well as the risk of persecution or expulsion that the Amsterdam Jewish community faced as a result of their association with him.

The restriction edict did not come as a surprise to him, but rather as a welcome relief, as he had planned to leave the Talmud Torah congregation due to his radical beliefs.

He stopped going to synagogue and publicly aired his disdain and hostility toward Judaism. Some claim he made a ‘apology’ to the elderly at the synagogue, explicitly defending his beliefs against orthodoxy, while others allege he made no such apology.

Despite the widespread belief that he converted to Christianity after being expelled from the Jewish community, he preserved his Latin name. He maintained a close relationship with the Christian sect and even moved to the Collegiant area, but he refused to be baptized, making him the first secular Jew in modern Europe.

He briefly remained in the village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel after the ban and his exile from Amsterdam, before returning to Amsterdam shortly after. He attended private philosophy classes and lens grinding throughout his time in the city.

He left Amsterdam for good between 1660 and 1661, settling in Rinjnsburg, Leiden. He created the majority of his well-known works while he was there.

In 1663, he published ‘Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being,’ which was one of his first publications. The essay was produced in an attempt to make public his philosophical, epistemological, and moral beliefs.

At the same time, he began work on Descartes’ ‘Principles of Philosophy,’ which he finished in 1663. It was his sole book published in his lifetime, and it was a critical exposition. In the same year, he relocated to Voorburg.

While in Voorburg, he began working on his future book, ‘The Ethics,’ with a number of scientists, philosophers, and theologians. He made a living as a lens grinder and an instrument builder.

Meanwhile, he began work on his next work, a defense of secular and constitutional government called ‘Theological Political Treatise,’ which was published anonymously in 1670. This obscene painting provoked widespread public outcry and was officially outlawed in 1674.

He moved to The Hague in 1670. He worked on his Political Treatise as well as other subjects while at the Hague, including two scientific pieces, ‘On the Rainbow’ and ‘On the Calculation of Chances.’ In addition, he began work on an unfinished Hebrew work and a Dutch translation of the Bible, both of which he finally destroyed.

His opus, ‘The Ethics,’ was completed in 1676. Traditional beliefs and philosophical concepts of God, human beings, nature, and the universe as a whole were impudently criticized in the work. It also made scathing remarks about faiths, theology, and moral ideas. In contrast, it expressed his belief that God or nature is everything.

Personal History and Legacy

He first felt romantically towards Clara, a fellow teacher’s daughter, after he had assumed his Latin name and begun teaching at a school. However, she rejected him in favor of someone who was wealthier and more prosperous.

In 1676, his health began to deteriorate, and by the following year, it had worsened. He died on February 20, 1677, following a lung infection brought on by breathing dust from lens grinding. He was laid to repose in The Hague’s Christian Nieuwe Kerk graveyard.

‘The Ethics,’ along with his other works, was published posthumously in 1677, as indicated in his will. Concerning God, The Nature and Origin of the Human Mind, The Nature and Origin of the Emotions, Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions, and The Power of Understanding, or Human Freedom were the five primary sections.

Estimated Net Worth

The estimated net worth of Baruch Spinoza is unknown.

Trivia

This Dutch philosopher was a radical thinker, and his posthumously released work, ‘The Ethics,’ established him as one of the most revolutionary and rational philosophers of the seventeenth century.