Spinoza was a Portuguese philosopher


Baruch Spinoza is the most famous philosopher in the Netherlands. The son of Portuguese Jews, who was born in Amsterdam in 1632, is one of the small group of philosophers who significantly shaped Western thought. Spinoza, who made his living - by the way, his life was quite Spartan - as a glass cutter, died in The Hague in 1677 of the consequences of a lung disease, the course of which was probably accelerated by the unhealthy working conditions.

Spinoza's nickname was Bento, which has the same meaning in Portuguese as Baruch in Hebrew and Benedictus in Latin, namely "the blessed". In addition to Dutch, Spinoza also learned Portuguese, Spanish and Hebrew; he later wrote his works in Latin. After completing his religious training, he fell out with the Jewish community in Amsterdam in 1656. The reason for this was probably not his critical attitude towards Orthodox Judaism, but rather his refusal to submit to the strict rules and demands of the religious community.

In the Republic of the United Netherlands, unlike in neighboring countries, critical opinions were dealt with in a very tolerant and relaxed manner, but Spinoza had to be careful. He did not publish many of his works or only published them under a pseudonym. His most important work, the Ethica, was only published posthumously.
The year 1672 marked a low point in the history of the republic. It was at war with England and France. The mood in the country came to a head; Orange supporters lynched the de Witt brothers, who they blamed for the French invasion. Spinoza was so shocked that he wanted to go to the scene of the event with a poster that read "ultimi barbarorum" (you are the last barbarians!). His landlord and close friend was just barely able to dissuade him - and possibly saved his life.

In his Tractatus theologico-politicus (theological-political treatise) Spinoza developed an approach to a liberal interpretation of the Bible, and in his Tractatus politicus (political treatise) he spoke out in favor of democracy and referred to the great importance of freedom of expression. With his masterpiece Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata (ethics represented according to the geometric method), or Ethica for short, Spinoza wanted to convey to people how they can alleviate their suffering. It was not about a philosophy for philosophy's sake, rather the book had a very practical purpose: people should recognize that God is not outside of creation, but that God is in everything - including in man himself be. Anyone who wants to achieve this clear awareness must be independent and refrain from violent hostility. Spinoza tried to live up to this ideal himself: he always argued calmly, deliberately and rationally and did not allow himself to be provoked.
He arranged his ethics in the manner of a geometric system and relied on basic concepts, axioms and theorems. This was his attempt in troubled times to find an objective approach to the questions with which he was concerned. Readers have repeatedly complained that this makes the book difficult to read. Spinoza would probably contradict them. It is not for nothing that his ethics ends with the words: "Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare."