Spinoza 1632 - 1677 (45)

Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare.


The Ethics

Baruch Spinoza (1632 - 1677) was one of the most important Dutch philosophers of the 17th century. He was born on November 24, 1632 in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, his family had roots in Portugal (His ancestors were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula when the Jews were exiled in 1492). His father was a wealthy merchant who lost 3 wives and three of his 6 children before they became adults. Baruch's mother died when he was 6 years old. His first language was Portuguese and then he learned Hebrew, Spanish, Dutch and Latin in which he wrote his most important works. He had a traditional Jewish upbringing, but when he grew up, being a free spirit, he broke with the dominant doctrines of Judaism. In 1656 the assembly of the Talmud Torah of Amsterdam issued a kind of aphorism against him, characterizing him as a heretic, even succeeding in his expulsion from Amsterdam for some time. When his father died, he bequeathed to his children his commercial business along with many debts; Spinoza left the business to his brother and devoted himself to philosophy. In order to make a living he worked as a lens sharpener and an optical instrument maker. In 1660 or 1661 he moved from Amsterdam to Rinsburg where he worked on the "Principles of Descartes' Philosophy" (the only work published in his time), as well as his masterpiece "Ethics". In 1670 Spinoza moved to Hague. His health began to decline in 1676 and he died on February 20, 1677, at the age of 44 from lung disease, possibly due to the inhalation of glass dust from the lenses he was making.

Spinoza is considered one of the leading representatives of rationalism in 17th century Europe, paving the way for the Enlightenment. He rejected Descartes' dualism and argued that there is only one fundamental substance in the universe, whose spirit and matter are merely two different aspects. This unique essence is God, who is identified with nature itself. Spinoza was very interested in morality, from a young age he came to the conclusion that the things that people value most - wealth, pleasure, power, fame - are empty and in vain, so he began to look for the existence of some absolute good that would give lasting and undiminished happiness to all who would acquire it.

He tried, therefore, to prove through a series of geometric reasonings that the absolute good is summed up in the "love of God", that is, in the worship of order and harmony of the universe. The only way, according to him, to get rid of unfulfilled hopes and torturous fears would be to recognize that the order of nature is determined, that the attainment of true freedom consists in accepting the absence of freedom. Spinoza preached tolerance, justice and reason, setting an example with his life, as he lived it with great kindness and humanity, free from hatred, envy and strife.