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Spinoza: A Life [Paperback]

By Steven M. Nadler (Author)
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Item description for Spinoza: A Life by Steven M. Nadler...

Baruch Spinoza (1632 1677) was one of the most important philosophers of all time; he was also arguably the most radical and controversial. This was the first complete biography of Spinoza in any language and is based on detailed archival research. More than simply recounting the story of Spinoza's life, the book takes the reader right into the heart of Jewish Amsterdam in the seventeenth century and, with Spinoza's exile from Judaism, right into the midst of the tumultuous political, social, intellectual and religious world of the young Dutch Republic. Though the book will be an invaluable resource for philosophers, historians, and scholars of Jewish thought, it has been written for any member of the general reading public with a serious interest in philosophy, Jewish history, seventeenth-century European history, and the culture of the Dutch Golden Age. Spinoza: A Life has recently been awarded the Koret Jewish Book Award.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Cambridge University Press
Pages   422
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 23, 2001
Publisher   Cambridge University Press
ISBN  0521002931  
ISBN13  9780521002936  

Availability  0 units.

More About Steven M. Nadler

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Steven Nadler is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and author of Malebranche and Ideas (1992), Arnauld and the Cartesian Philosophy of Ideas (1989), and editor of Malebranche: Philosophical Selections (1992).

Steven M. Nadler was born in 1958 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Philosophers
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > History & Surveys
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > History, 17th & 18th Century
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Modern

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Reviews - What do customers think about Spinoza: A Life?

Rationalist, existialist...or Vulcan?  Jun 6, 2007
Emotions are to be avoided, religion is inherently illogical, only rational philosophy can bring you contentment, free-will is a myth; these are the tenants of Spinoza and, yes, the credo of all Vulcans. All these years of trying to get a sense of Spinoza and 3/4 through the book the image of Mr. Spock came floating through the text. Think about it, if Spinoza was successful in changing the metaphysical paradigm of western civilization, we'd all be Vulcans today. Seriously, this is a good book for any serious Spinozists, and puts into context the genius and guts that was Spionza as well as the remarkable period of tollerance which was the golden age of the Dutch Republic. I would suggest reading Yirmiyahu Yovel's, "Spinoza and Other Heretics" for anyone interested in getting a sense of the Pre-converso environment of the Marranos.
Spinoza: A life  Mar 14, 2007
The book give a great details about the life during the inquisition time in Spain Portugal & Holland..
Is has a very good view about the terrible consequences of fanatics in the Catholic religion, and show why the world was intellectually almost paralyzed during the dark ages of the religion terror.

However, the book only give small inside about the wonderful philosophical thinking of Spinoza, is more a historic book than a philosophical one..
The most enlightened of Philosophers  Sep 19, 2006
Steven Nadler skillfully guides the reader not only through Spinoza's life but also through the turbulent times of the 17th century Holland. All the more useful ride to enable us to see the courage of an outstanding man, citizen, a brilliant philosopher who taught us that GOD is Nature and us. Great reading!
lost in facts  May 28, 2006
I simply could not relate to this book, a reaction which may or may not reflect an adequate idea.
By the name of Spinoza !  Sep 1, 2005
Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), an early figure of European Enlightenment like a Netherlands Descartes or Giordano Bruno, - he fought with his publications for the inauguration of modern times, influenced by sober reason - but still caught in the historical context of a society, which was ruled by the dictatorial interests of confessions and government cabals.

During Spinoza's lifetime (only 45 years) Amsterdam probably has been Europe's most alive, free and multi-cultural large city - the true mother of Nieuw Amsterdam = New York. As freely however, that anyone could philosophize, whatever he liked to sermonize - no, that wasn't possible staying completely unpunished.

Many of the perforce secret supporters of Spinoza (publishers, booksellers, authors) landed in the prison or in banishing. Most glaringly is the story of the brothers Johan and Cornelis de Witt, who had protected Spinoza, providing him with food, money and legal support: A furious mob of Monarchists and Calvinists in 1672 got them out of prison and carried out a lynching court in the style of that time: they mangled the bodies and pulled out the hearts, showing them full of triumph to the audience - many of the members of the aristocracy, sitting in carriages. A very anarchistic version of almost forgotten Inca- and Aztec-rites. Only with strive Spinoza's friends could prevent him from posting a placard near the site of the massacre, reading ULTIMI BARBARORUM (You are the greatest of all barbarians).

Spinoza's family, Jewish, harassed by the Inquisition, had escaped Spain like thousand others to find refuge in the Netherlands, which showed more toleration. Spinoza's first thinking results, which regarded the Bible as an historical writing collection of different humans (thus by no means written by God), led him to be excommunicated from the Dutch community of Portuguese Jews. The autocratic Sephardim rabbinical leadership wrote 1656 in beautiful calligraphic letters: "As to the judgement of the angels and statement of the holy we banish, curse, bewitch and condemn Baruch de Spinoza. Beware of operating with him verbally or in writing, beware of proving him the smallest favor, beware of reading his books..."

The remainder of his life (like an early forerunner of the famous Anne Frank, who was hidden by Amsterdam citizens from Nazi pursuance) Spinoza hid mostly in small grave chambers of rooms and he lost all the wealth of his family business. Secretly he was supported by friends. Additional he earned money by lens grinding (but the sharpening of glass caused an early death: the inhaled dust destroyed his lungs). Convinced of the correctness of his thinking he as long as possible continued writing, persistently and annoyingly - however anonymous.

He did not want to die in public at stake like his forerunner Giordano Bruno in Rome 1600. Spinoza was fascinated by the hypothesis of a Pantheism, first developed by the efforts of Giordano Bruno. In his "Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect" he defined God as ruled by the same causes like nature ("deus, siva natura"). At that time neither the Jews nor the Christians had been ready to accept such dogmatic changes or at least to tolerate such opinions (which of course weakened the religious authorities).

A large city is - today like at that time - characterized by the fact, that trends in different parts of the society are not simultaneous. The aristocratic, bourgeois, working class or religious circles always have different speeds. The intellectual circles, sympathizing with Spinoza, seemed to live already in the 18th century.

Because Spinoza, inspired by Hobbes, also risked to formulate basics of a democratic society, he came immediately into conflict with the Netherlands Orangists, who controlled the state. The mob, brought to a level of puppets as well by the princes as by the clerical - the mob was not enlightenmentable by the shy and sensitive considerations of a cautiously hidden publisher.

We would have to thank Spinoza (if it would be possible) for his persistance, which helped to develop modern constitutions of states and stabilized the opinion, that a religion must not be monopolized, but, in the contrary, has to follow individual interpretations as well. With regard to September Eleven and the US-reaction against fundamentalist assaults we faster could decide, how to response. I think: not using military, but using reason: no religion should lead us to a Crusade or a "Reverse Crusade" anymore. Monopolizing trends of denominations should be stopped. By the name of Spinoza!


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