Steven Nadler Spinoza: A Life

ISBN 13: 9780521552103

Spinoza: A Life

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9780521552103: Spinoza: A Life

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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Review:

Remarkably, given his importance in Western philosophy, there has never been a substantial English-language biography of Baruch (or, as he was later known, Benedictus) Spinoza (1632-1677) until now. Spinoza: A Life makes up for the lack, delving into the archival records of 17th-century Amsterdam to flesh out Spinoza's world in rich detail. The subject himself doesn't even appear until the third chapter; Nadler first provides historical background on the treatment of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition and their eventual resettlement in the Dutch Republic. Later chapters explore Spinoza's relationship to the Jewish community and the possible reasons for his excommunication in 1656, as well as the emergence of his philosophical system. Academically rigorous without becoming ponderous, Spinoza: A Life is splendid both as biography and history, and a worthy introduction to Spinoza's philosophy.

Book Description:

This was the first complete biography of Spinoza in any language and is based on detailed archival research. The book 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.

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