Within Reason: A Life of Spinoza

Within Reason: A Life of Spinoza

Margaret Gullan-Whur

Language: English

Pages: 398

ISBN: 0312253583

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The compelling biography of one of the most brilliant and controversial thinkers in Western historyBaruch or Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-1677) is considered one of the greatest Western thinkers and certainly the most rigorous of the Rationalist philosophers.Born of Jewish immigrants escaping the Spanish Inquisition, he was expelled from the Jewish community of Amsterdam for "horrendous heresies" in 1656.He came to be reviled by all religious authorities for claiming that humans were parts of a unified nature, that God was identical with nature, and that reason-not revelation-supplied the truth of any aspect of God, or Nature.Undeterred, Spinoza made this thesis the basis for a rational crusade against superstition and prejudice.This highly informative biography shows how Spinoza's central beliefs developed within the context of his own life in Dutch society.Drawing on very recent scholarly research and making detailed reference to primary sources, some not previously explored, author Gullan-Whur focuses on the philosopher's attempt to act solely through reason in the face of turbulent personal and national circumstances.Margaret Gullan-Whur debunks the myth of the philosopher as a lofty ascetic and exposes the emotional and sexual vulnerability behind Spinoza's misogynist tendencies.Within Reason offers a fresh, new and compelling look at the most important Rationalist and shows his living philosophical experiment to be sharply relevant today.AUTHORBIO: Margaret Gullan-Whur gained a first-class degree in philosophy and critical theory of literature from the University of East Anglia, and a doctorate in the philosophy of Spinoza from University College London.Cover paintings: Portrait of Spinoza, Dutch School, second half of the 17th century, reproduced courtesy of Haags Historisch Museum, The Hague; detail from The Dam with the New Town Hall under Construction by Johannes Lingelbach reproduced by courtesy of Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Amsterdam.


















usurpers of princely power littered the Dutch streets. Only when it was added that Johan had embezzled States funds did he demand a States retraction. A (true) report spread that he had offered Louis Maastricht and other territory in return for peace, while French troops, in that exceptionally hot, dry summer, forded minor rivers and advanced on Utrecht. Dutch panic spread. A French aide recorded that ‘The terror was so great that the Jews of Amsterdam sent me word that they would give two

‘Infallible … in our hearts’: Kolakowski 89, 93, quoting Camphuysen’s tracts. Katwijkerlaan cottage and inscription: 4 lines from Maysche Morgenstondt (May Morning) by Dirck Camphuysen: Monnikhoff [mid 18c] 23 (FQ 106). Information on the stone from the Vereniging het Spinozahuis. All sects received … Barclay 89–91. ‘Free table’: ibid. 89–91. Spinoza sold microscopes: Klever 8 23–4, quoting Borch’s Diary. Hooman a Collegiant: a legend originating in Monnikhoff 22: above, notes to 96. ‘Apostles’:

your method of philosophising. Whether Morteira heard him or not, Bento’s manner is likely to have been edged with an insolence that would be taken as contempt. This characteristic of Spinoza’s, which would throughout his life infuriate those who thought religious dogma conferred right, truth and virtue on their views, may have swept away any hesitancy Morteira felt over desiring the excommunication of his dead friend’s son. Was Bento, then, as guilty of narcissism as d’Acosta, Ribera and De

path that is opened to me, with the consolation that my departure will be more innocent than was the exodus of the early Hebrews from Egypt. Although my subsistence is no better secured than was theirs, I take away nothing from anybody and, whatever injustice may be done to me, I can boast that people have nothing to reproach me with. Was this Spinoza’s final message to the Jews of Amsterdam? If so, did they grasp his insinuation that he, made to feel guilty all his life at escaping persecution,

calculations, but he does not seem to have relied much on mathematical principles in his own investigations. Instead, with empirical zest, he researched both chemistry and anatomy by travelling round towns and villages looking for exceptional cases. His later anatomical observations, specialising in the foetus, are still praised, but there was nothing exceptional in his treatise on antimony: that dissertation was just one more claim from a natural scientist that he had discovered a secret formula

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