Baruch Spinoza

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Baruch de Spinoza
Full name Baruch de Spinoza
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Rationalism, founder of Spinozism
Main interests Ethics, Epistemology, Metaphysics
Notable ideas Pantheism, Conatus, Deism, neutral monism, intellectual and religious freedom / separation of church and state, Criticism of Mosaic authorship of certain books of the Hebrew Bible, Political society derived from power, not contract

Baruch Spinoza (November 24, 1632February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. He is considered to be one of the great Rationalist philosophers of the 17th century. Other famous rationalists include Gottfried Leibniz and René Descartes.

Life[change | change source]

Spinoza's ideas were not cherished by the Jewish community of the time, and Spinoza was excommunicated in 1656.

Key ideas[change | change source]

An important idea in Spinoza's philosophy is God and Nature (everything that exists) are the same thing. Opposing Dualism, Spinoza said that the body and the mind (soul) are two of God's infinite attributes.

There is no good or evil in Nature, and that these words only have meanings for human beings. For a person, an event that leads to happiness is good, and an event that leads to suffering is bad.

Spinoza describes two types of thoughts, or emotions:

  • When a person acts from his own nature, he is said to be Active. The more you understand your actions, the more active you become. Active emotions lead to happiness and an understanding of God, as well as to Freedom.
  • When a person is being influenced by another person, or a thing, he is said to be Passive.

The goal of every person is to intellectually love God (that is, understand Nature as much as humanly possible).