An article on Spinoza

Thought I’d link to this article on a shadowy-ish figure in philosophy. We all know Spinoza was one of those rationalists, some of you may even know that he was a tent-maker of sorts (a figure of speech referencing Paul’s trade), working long hours grinding lenses. I’ve read Stewart’s book on Spinoza referenced in the article and Goldstein’s is next. Well, probably. In any case, I can’t really recommend Stewart’s book unless you’ve read Spinoza and you’ve read a more serious bio of the man. Stewart has an axe to grind; that much is apparent. But if you are able to spit out the bones, it is highly enjoyable. I concur with the article’s statement here:

Surely one reason so many thinkers remain smitten with Spinoza is the fabled beauty of his vision of the universe and God. Goldstein, a professor of philosophy at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., writes of seeing her students transformed by Spinoza’s “Ethics.” At first, they’re put off by the “eccentricity — both in form and content — of this impenetrable work.” But eventually, they make “their way into Spinoza’s way of seeing things, watching the entire world reconfigure itself in the vision … One feels oneself change, however, impermanently, as one beholds Spinoza’s point of view — the point of view that approaches, though it can never match, ‘the Infinite Intellect of God.’ One’s whole sense of oneself, and what it is one cares about, tilts — in a direction that certainly feels like up. Year after year, I’ve watched what happens with my students when Spinoza begins to take hold, and it’s always moving beyond measure.”

Any fan of Spinoza knows exactly what she’s talking about.


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