Who was Spinoza

Summary of The ethics

Europe in the 17th century

The 17th century was a time of profound political, religious and scientific upheaval in Europe. The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) cemented the continent's religious division. The two Christian denominations were made into instruments of politics to a large extent.

Spiritual Europe was also shaken up: Nicolaus Copernicus had already replaced the geocentric view of the world with the heliocentric one around 100 years earlier, which was at the beginning of the 17th century by Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei has been confirmed. The philosophy of the time countered the great uncertainty with the attempt to objectify the phenomena of the world and to make them generally understandable. This also meant that religion was removed from the pure sphere of belief and made an object of reason. It is not for nothing that Spinoza is considered one of the founders of modern biblical criticism.

Another important trend of that time: mathematics increasingly became an instrument of overall human knowledge and was an expression of the pursuit of intellectual clarity. The three greatest philosophers of the 17th century, along with Spinoza, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, were also important mathematicians.

Emergence

Spinoza worked on his for 16 years, from 1661 to 1677 ethics, but the main features of the typeface were completed between 1662 and 1665. It is not only in its strictly methodical, mathematical-oriented thought leadership that it reminds us of Descartes ’ Of themethod, Descartes' influence is also unmistakable in terms of content, for example in the dualistic thinking that Spinoza includes in the theory of substance and its attributes.

The late medieval Jewish-scholastic tradition rubbed off on Spinoza, as did the Neo-Platonism of the Renaissance, with which Spinoza came to terms with his reading of the Renaissance scholar Leone Ebreo familiarized. With Ebreo, Spinoza found the approach to pantheism and also the conviction that he could love God spiritually. If Spinoza's rationalism is inherent in a religiously tinged mysticism, this is not least due to the variety of his readings.

While he was composing his writings and earning his living as a glass cutter, Spinoza lived in various places in the Netherlands, unmarried and withdrawn.

Impact history

Spinoza stopped The ethics for fear of hostility under lock and key, even when he finally finished it in 1677, the year of his death. It was only published posthumously in the year of his death by his friends in Amsterdam. But it wasn't until around 100 years after it was published that a constructive, sustained examination of the font began. Until then, Spinoza was hated and ridiculed, just as he was during his lifetime. The Jewish community had expelled him before his death, and the Catholic Church put his works on the index, the list of forbidden books.

In Germany, the philosopher was initially hardly noticed, because the scholars' attention was focused on Leibniz's philosophy, which appeared around the same time. The turning point came in 1785: Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi wrote to Moses Mendelssohn, Spinozas ethics is the only consistent philosophy in the history of philosophy; it denies the existence of God because it is a philosophy of the mind; behind Spinoza's pantheism is atheism. With this Jacobi kicked off the so-called Spinoza dispute or pantheism dispute, which was also involved in Germany Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and in England Samuel Taylor Coleridge who both saw the scientification of religion as an important step towards greater religious tolerance. This attitude later followed Johann Gottfried Herder and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at. The German romantics recognized in Spinoza's pantheism the epitome of religiosity. Then saw in the 19th century Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche in Spinoza the first atheistic thinker in the history of Western philosophy.