Vandaag Spinoza’s geboortedag


Het was mij, gezien het blog over de gisteren gehouden Spinozadag, uiteraard niet ontgaan dat vandaag de geboortedag is van Spinoza.
Ik vind het echter wel aardig hier nog even de tekst te brengen van de joodse historicus Mitchell A. Levin die deze rubriek verzorgt

This Day, November 24, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin  

1632: Birthdate of Baruch Spinoza (known also as Benedict De
Spinoza). The life and philosophy of Spinoza are too complex for this brief
daily blurb and you are urged to read more about him on your own) In brief
Spinoza was born in Amsterdam to Sephardic Jews who had fled from the
Inquisition in Portugal, Spinoza received a rigorous Jewish education including
the study of such “modern” commentators as Maimonides and Ibn Ezra.   However his inquiring mind led to learn Latin
and to study with so-called free-thinkers. 
He became a disciple of Descartes and his rationalist philosophic
approach to life.  Spinoza was a
pantheist believing that God was within nature and not above nature with His
own divine will.  To paraphrase
Telushkin, Spinoza did not believe that God created nature, but that God is
Nature.  In 1656, while still in his
twenties, Spinoza was excommunicated (in Hebrew “kerem”) for denying the
immortality of the soul and God’s authorship of the Torah.  On this latter point, Spinoza was a
forerunner of modern Biblical critics. 
He believed that the Torah had not been written by Moses, but by Ezra
the Scribe.  The ban from the Jewish
community was total.  Spinoza spent the
rest of his life moving from place to place in Holland studying and developing
his philosophical works.  At one point he
joined a Mennonite sect and changed his name to Benedictus or Benedict. By the
time of his death in 1677, Spinoza had developed a philosophy of rational
pantheism in which to “know” nature is to know God.  Over the centuries, many Jews have expressed
their displeasure over Spinoza’s excommunication.  In the 1950’s no less a figure than David Ben
Gurion tried unsuccessfully to have the ban lifted.  From the writings of Spinoza: “As long as a
man imagines a thing is impossible, so long will he be unable to do it.”  “Men who are ruled by reason desire nothing
for themselves which they would not wish for all humankind.”  (Sounds like Hillel).