Baruch de Spinoza

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Portrait of the philosopher Baruch de Spinoza, oil painting around 1665, in the possession of the painting collection of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel Spinoza's signature (1671) .svg

Baruch de Spinoza ( Hebrew ברוך שפינוזה, Portuguese Bento de Espinosa , Latinized Benedictus de Spinoza ; born on November 24, 1632 in Amsterdam ; died on February 21, 1677 in The Hague ) was a Dutch philosopher . He was the son of Sephardic immigrants from Portugal and had Portuguese as his first language . He is assigned to rationalism and is considered to be one of the founders of modern criticism of the Bible and religion .


Origin and youth

The Marran-Jewish family Spinoza (also written Despinosa or d'Espinosa ) descended from Iberian Jews ( Sephardim ) who had immigrated from Vidigueira in Portugal, via Nantes and Rotterdam . Spinoza's father and uncle probably moved to Amsterdam between 1615 and 1623.

Spinoza was born as Bento de Espinosa on November 24, 1632 in a house in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam , now Waterlooplein and the surrounding area. Eight days later he was in the Jewish community as Baruch introduced . His father was Miguel or Michael de Spinoza (died 1654), also known as Gabriel Alvares d'Espinosa, his mother, whose second wife, was Hanna Debora Senior (died 1638). Michael de Spinoza was several times one of the Parnassim , overseer of the Sephardic community , and was involved in the merging of the three schools and the founding of the (old) Sephardic synagogue on the Houtgracht.

The only reliable information about Spinoza's youth is that at the age of five he was registered with his father, his older brother Isaak (died 1649) and younger brother Gabriel in the directory of members of the Ets Haim Friends Association , which is responsible for awarding scholarships to the students the Talmud Torah school was founded. In this school, most of the male parishioners were introduced to the religious culture of the parish in the first four grades, before some passed through grades 5-7 to become parish leaders, but especially rabbis . Since Spinoza, as an 18- or 19-year-old, does not appear in a list of members in classes 5-7 from 1651, he probably did not attend these higher classes.

In the parish registers he does not appear again until after the death of his father (March 1654), namely in the donation book, according to which he made several payments in the month after the death of the father and as his successor (eldest living son). Spinoza ran his trading company in succession to his father. When he realized the debt of the business he had taken over from his father in the spring of the following year, he had himself appointed a guardian as an orphan at the age of 23 - and thus still a minor under the law . The latter asserted the subsequent non-acceptance of the inheritance for him , although Spinoza had already satisfied some of his father's creditors. The rejection of the inheritance was recognized as legally valid by an Amsterdam court. Spinoza thus got rid of all financial liabilities to his father's business partners. The company was continued with the same company until 1664. That year, his brother Gabriel authorized two other merchants as sole proprietor to look after the interests of the business before emigrating to Barbados . Gabriel emigrated to Jamaica , where old business connections existed.

Banished from the Jewish community

Spinoza's ban , Portugees-Israëlitische Gemeente, Amsterdam

Spinoza came into contact with Mennonites in the first half of the 1650s . He learned Latin in the Latin school of the ex-Jesuit Franciscus van den Enden (1602–1674) . Here he was able to broaden his horizons and became known, among other things, with the ideas of Descartes and late scholasticism . The Jewish rationalists like Maimonides or Gersonides were probably already familiar to him.

In 1656 Spinoza, together with the doctor and freethinker Juan de Prado, who only immigrated to the community from Portugal via Hamburg in 1655, and Manuel Ribeira, expressed strong doubts about various doctrines that were central to the community. On July 27, 1656 , he was expelled from the Amsterdam Portuguese synagogue with the ban ( Cherem ) because of his allegedly bad views and actions and after milder measures had failed . In addition, the rabbis forbade any written or oral contact with him. Spinoza was only 23 years old at the time and had not yet published anything. After the ban, Spinoza wrote a comprehensive defense in which he developed his views critical of the Bible and religion, which he later included in the theological and political treatise.

Spinoza stayed in Amsterdam frequently, even during 1659, and continued to associate with de Prado and Ribeira. The biographer Lucas reported that at the instigation of the rabbis he was expelled from Amsterdam for some time by the magistrate and therefore settled in Rijnsburg . However, there are no official news or other reports about it. The mention of a study in Leiden in 1658/59 by the witness of the Spanish Inquisition , Tomás Solano y Robles, speaks in favor of a residence outside Amsterdam . Spinoza began attending Mennonite and Collegiate circles but was never baptized like a Mennonite and did not become a Christian . Spinoza is considered to be one of the first secular Jews .

He lived celibate and withdrawn. He earned his living turning and grinding optical lenses. In addition, he received donations from two sponsors.

First publications

Baruch de Spinoza's study room

As early as 1660, Spinoza's criticism of the Bible and religion was also known in Rijnsburg. He worked on the Tractatus de intellectus emendatione (On the Progress of Understanding) and Korte Verhandeling van God, de Mensch, en deszelos Welstand (Short treatise on God, Man and His Happiness), in which ideas from his later major work Ethics ... echo. His reputation as an astute connoisseur and his idiosyncratic development of Descartes' philosophy attracted the interest of many scholars. So he had contact with Henry Oldenburg , who would later become one of the secretaries of the newly founded Royal Society in London.

In 1663 Spinoza published the Renati Descartes principiorum philosophiae (PPC), the only work that appeared under his name during his lifetime. In 1669 he moved to The Hague . Here he received in February 1673 was appointed professor at the Palatine University of Heidelberg , who however, by the appointed confidants of electors I. Karl Ludwig had been drafted so as to Spinoza rejected him.

From 1670 the church tried to enforce a ban on Spinozas in the same year and anonymously published Tractatus theologico-politicus (TTP) with the state authorities, but this was not successful until 1674, two years after the murder of the liberal rulers, the de Witt brothers would have. In 1675 the parish in The Hague was active again, as the rumor got around that Spinoza had finished a new book; it can only have been ethics . In The Hague, Spinoza received visits from important scholars, including Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and, in November 1676, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz .


The house of Baruch de Spinoza, Rijnsburg Spinozalaan 29, now a museum that pays tribute to Spinoza
Bronze seated statue of Baruch de Spinoza near his former home on Paviljoensgracht in The Hague

Spinoza died unexpectedly at the age of 44 on Sunday, February 21, 1677, around 3 p.m. in his apartment on Paviljoensgracht in The Hague. The circumstances of his death, probably caused by a chronic lung disease, are not known, but perhaps his lifelong tuberculosis was the cause, then diagnosed as consumption . The Lutheran German preacher Johannes Colerus reports on his death and burial in his biography of Spinoza (first in Dutch 1705, French in 1706, German edition under the title Das Leben des Bened. Von Spinoza from 1733), about which he had personally interviewed Spinoza's hosts . Colerus reported that the day before, Spinoza asked for a doctor with the initials LM (this was most likely his friend Lodewijk Meyer), who stayed with him until he died. On February 25th, he was buried in a Christian cemetery. The estate, including its library, was inventoried and auctioned after Spinoza's sister Rebecca and her stepson Daniel de Casseres had asserted their inheritance claims and his landlord also demanded outstanding payments. The Tractatus politicus remained unfinished.

Friends like Lodewijk Meyer prepared Spinoza's neglected manuscripts for publication. It took place in the year of death 1677 under the title BDS Opera Posthuma . The book contained ethics , the Tractatus politicus , the Tractatus de intellectus emendatione as well as letters and his likewise unfinished Hebrew grammar . Spinoza's autographs are kept in the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library , among others .


Spinoza occupies a special position in the history of philosophy. He did not belong to an established philosophical school, nor did he found a new one himself. He was one of the most radical philosophers of the early modern period. His Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata is formulated in a synthetic representation and, as the title suggests, according to the method of Euclid's elements in "basic concepts", "axioms", "theorems", "demonstrations" and "corollaries". Spinoza wrote a metaphysics and ethics in the style of a geometry textbook .

Spinoza's philosophy has above all an ethical-practical goal: He would like to distinguish from the illusory goals in life the only truth that, if he were to achieve it, could give him a stable and really satisfying joy. To make this possible, he developed an ethics (especially in the last three books of ethics ), the bases of which (which are presented in the first two books of ethics ) are metaphysical in nature. The ethical and metaphysical reflections required a propaedeutic- methodological work, which Spinoza underwent in the Tractatus de intellectus emendatione . But since, in his eyes, ethics is inseparable from political philosophy, he developed independent political thinking in the context of both the Tractatus theologico-politicus and the Tractatus politicus .

The four branches of Spinoza's thought are:

  1. metaphysics
  2. ethics
  3. political philosophy
  4. Epistemology

God as a singular substance (metaphysics)

In Proposition 1–15 he stated: God is the infinite, substantial in its properties constant, uniform and eternal substance :

"Per Deum intelligo ens absolute infinitum hoc est substantiam constantem infinitis attributis quorum unumquodque æternam et infinitam essentiam exprimit."

- de Spinoza

Spinoza combines the traditional understanding of substance as "being-in-yourself" (in se est) with the statement that a substance can only be understood from itself (per se concipitur) or can be explained.

"Per substantiam intelligo id quod in se est et per se concipitur hoc est id cuius conceptus non indiget conceptu alterius rei a quo formari debeat."

- de Spinoza : Ethica, I.

("By substance I mean that which is in itself and is conceived by itself, that is, that whose concept, in order to be formed, does not need the concept of another thing.")

Logical conclusions from Spinoza's concept of substance

From these two axioms of Spinoza it follows inevitably that if several substances are assumed to be different from one another, there must be something in common, since the substances cannot be distinguished from one another without something in common. The definition of an individual substance can only take place via its difference (differentia) from the other substances. With this, however, no substance would be comprehensible in itself, but only in relation to the others.

From this it follows, assuming Spinoza's sentence “of the being that can be understood from within ”, that there can only be one single substance. As a result, this substance is infinite and absolute with all its properties and was equated with God by Spinoza.

The objection to a possible finite substance is refuted by compelling conclusions from Spinoza's first two axioms on substance.

A finite substance would in turn have to adjoin another substance, which would raise the definition problems of the impossible differentiation of substances according to the axiom per se concipitur discussed above .

A finite substance also required a causally preceding causer of its existence, which makes a second substance also imperative and in turn raises corresponding problems with regard to the initial axioms.

Spinoza concluded that one substance cannot be produced by another:

"Una substantia non potest produci ab alia substantia."


("A substance cannot be produced from another substance.")

Recourse to ontological evidence

With the question of the real existence of a substance that can be named as God, Spinoza uses the older ontological proof of God , according to which a substance must not have any further cause and should therefore only be presented as a cause of itself (causa sui) . The cause of a substance itself can only be something in which the essence also implies existence (cuius essentia involvit existentiam) or whose nature cannot be understood otherwise than as existing (cuius natura non potest concipi, nisi existens) .

Pantheism, mind versus matter, and free will

The cosmos or the universe itself is this substance, there is nothing outside of it, it is in nothing else, and thus all objects are properties of this substance; therefore one of the main ideas with Spinoza is that God is present in all beings. It is common to call this theory pantheism (from the Greek pan : everything, and from theos God). However, from Proposition 16 on, there is a subtle change in meaning: Spinoza's God is the cause of all things, because everything follows causally and necessarily from the divine nature: “In the same way as from the nature of the triangle from eternity and in eternity it follows that its three angles are equal to two right ”. In this sense, God was not free to create (or not to) create the world.

What our intellect can recognize of this substance he called its " attributes "; two of these attributes are "thinking" (spirit) and "expansion" (matter). In the same way as Descartes , Spinoza established a contrast between spirit and matter; unlike the former, however, he did not see them as two different substances ( dualism ), but as different attributes of a single substance ( monism ). Since spirit and matter are not opposing substances, the Cartesian objection to the possibility of interaction between spirit and matter, soul and body , seemed to Spinoza to be eliminated. From the basic idea of ​​monism, he concluded that there can be no contradiction between the (ideal) regularity of the realm of ideas and that of the (mechanical) physical world, but that an object in the physical world must correspond to every idea (of an infinite number) ( psychophysical parallelism ).

From the infinite essence of God ( natura naturans = creative nature = substance) the infinite follows in infinitely different ways ( natura naturata = created nature = what we perceive as appearances). This applies to the sequence and connection of ideas as well as to the material world order ( ordo et connexio idearum idem est ac ordo et connexio rerum ; "The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things."). From this it follows: Just as in the world of the material body no effect is possible without a (compelling) cause, so in the spiritual world a decision of the will without a motive is not possible. Spinoza thus excluded any free will (including that of his God - see above). Everything happens out of cosmic necessity; He called the term “will of God” (in the appendix to Part 1 of Ethics ) “the asylum of ignorance”: “And so they will not cease to ask about the causes of the causes until one has taken refuge in the will of God has, that is, to the sanctuary of ignorance. "

Some objects arise directly from the infinite divine being; these are absolutely valid and unchangeable geometrical propositions and laws of nature or the logic and the laws of soul life. The less direct the connection to the divine substance, the more individual and ephemeral an object is.


Since, according to Spinoza, “substance” as such possesses neither intelligence nor will, there is no providence, no plan of salvation; since it is the cause of itself, there is no such thing as blind doom. The ethics goes back to the "ontology" of God that Spinoza designs. Man can participate in the divine nature, the goal is a development of the world according to the natural necessity of God's laws. Spinoza's ethics demand to see things as God sees them: holistically. From the point of view of eternity (sub specie aeternitatis), this means seeing every detail (idea, object or process) as part of a unified world whole. A clear departure from Aristotelian ideas is Spinoza's claim that there are no purposeful causes, but only value-neutral, "effective" causes that are only "necessary". All causes have a dynamic to support life and to "benefit" (which should not be confused here with utilitarianism).

The title page of Baruch de Spinoza's monograph Ethica

Doctrine of affect : If the previous justifications can be traced back to God and the positive dynamics of natura naturans, then humans also contribute something to ethics. Spinoza conceives a doctrine of affects and passions. These are understood as an “affirmation of life”. Spinoza developed a very precise theory of affects, which deals with questions about the incentives and effectiveness of affects. He differentiates between appropriate affects of active creation and inadequate affects (ideas) that we suffer. The point is not to drown in the causes, not to become a slave to the affects, but to shape them. Humility is not a virtue: "Humility is grief that arises from the fact that a person looks at his powerlessness or weakness."

The good is the preservation of life and not a world-transcendent idea. Striving for self-preservation does not lead to the aspirant actually maintaining himself. Spinoza develops the truly good in express contrast to this mere opinion. It is “real benefit” and therefore more: the good is not what we have a good opinion of, but something we know about. It is not just seemingly useful, it is truly useful. Accordingly, only what actually keeps us alive can be called really good, and not what we mean to strive for our self-preservation. If what is striven for leads to the annihilation or diminution of one's own being, it is in truth bad, although it is striven for and is good from the perspective of the striving person.

But man has the possibility of controlling his affects with the help of reason. It is important to understand the affects in order to come up with ideas. These can be ordered and better controlled. Such clarity ultimately leads to the goal.

Since man has always strived for perfect knowledge, and since God is perfect, his goal must be to become one with God. Since God is in everything, man's goal must therefore be to become one with (divine) nature; when one achieves this, one attains the highest form of existence - and with it peace. With Spinoza, this (intellectual) love for God ( amor intellectualis Dei ) stands next to resignation, i.e. surrender to the necessity of nature. They form the core of the purely rational, i.e. dispassionate, ethics of Spinoza, who placed himself in line with Socrates and the Stoics. A philosophy of happiness belonged to this ethic: “Happiness is not the reward of virtue, but virtue itself; and we enjoy them not because we inhibit the cravings, but the other way round, because we enjoy them, so we can inhibit the cravings. ”This sounds selfish. But it must not be forgotten that for Spinoza “true” life support is only possible in the community. Spinoza describes this path as difficult, but manageable.

In the appendix to the first part of his ethics, Spinoza says that ignorance is not a sufficient reason: "Ignorantia non est argumentum." With this he turns against those theologians who put the will of God as the cause of all appearances with the sole reason that there are no other causes known. This is Spinoza's plea for the rational justification of his ethics.

Political philosophy

The Tractatus theologico-politicus appeared in Amsterdam in 1670 and was published anonymously and with misleading information about its origin, for example the place of printing and the name of the printer. In view of the changed political conditions in the Netherlands, Spinoza found the philosophical and theological ideas about freedom of thought and religion that he developed in writing to be too explosive. The later murder of the liberal regents he valued and the ban on his work in 1674 showed that he was correct in his assessment.

According to Spinoza, the scriptures are not correct and cannot be literally inspired by God. Critical reading is therefore essential and shows various contradictions between certain passages in the text. The authors (for the books of Moses he accepted Ezra as the first, with "worsening improvements" by later) should be seen in their historical context, one has to consider their respective beliefs. The Holy Scriptures do not teach us about the nature of God and his plan of salvation, but teach us to be obedient and to love God and others. In order to understand this, one does not need to have a refined instruction in philosophy or be trained as a theologian . So-called miracles have been misunderstood and misused for pseudo-moral purposes. Only frozen dogmas and rituals kept Judaism and Christianity alive. Philosophy and natural law could not come into conflict with the text of the Holy Scriptures (understood in this way). With this view Spinoza became one of the founders of the modern historical-critical analysis of the Bible .

Spinoza's theory of the state is based on the conviction that people who are liberated by rationality are automatically charitable and tolerant - also towards the mistakes of others who are still controlled by their passions. However, since people in general do not allow themselves to be guided by reason, the state must set and enforce rules. With this, Spinoza showed in the Tractatus theologico-politicus the limits of philosophy and natural law as he saw them: the individual must surrender his rights to the community. It must obey the state in everything, even against its private convictions; the only exceptions are instructions that contradict the universal sense of morality (such as "Kill your parents!"). This obedience does not interfere with human autonomy either , since the individuals themselves have authorized the authorities and commandments are anyway in the very best interest of the individual, seen as an egoist. Spinoza advocated democracy because it is unlikely that the majority of a large electorate would make irrational decisions. The freedom to philosophize (freedom of thought and speech) is compatible with piety and peace in the state, and the latter would have to perish without it.


Like God, the human mind also has ideas : experience and ratio . Experiences (experientia vaga) are unreliable (Spinoza was quite in line with his contemporaries); they do not provide any true knowledge of our objects of knowledge, because they only present us with an incomplete, ephemeral and deceptive picture of what the viewer thinks he is seeing. This sensory experience - just like memory (ex signis) - allows us only superficial “knowledge” as it appears from a certain perspective and at a certain point in time. The result is confused and garbled knowledge (including belief in chance and superstition ); it is the opposite of true insight into the nature of things.

This insight (ratio), on the other hand, is - according to Spinoza - necessarily true and correct. We don't get it any other way than through deductive logic, that is, rational thinking. This means not only to observe and merely to grasp the relationships of an object (idea, object or process) to other things, but to gain insight into its relationship to the "attributes" of God and the "modes" that follow from them (the laws of nature ) , to win. True knowledge of such an object explains why it exists and why it is so and cannot be otherwise. This knowledge is detached from space and time (sub specie aeternitatis) and thus immortal and immutable. Also there are (because of the necessity inherent in the world) only value-neutral causes for the discerning person ; whoever speaks of “good” or “bad” has only superficial “knowledge”.

Spinoza's concept of rational knowledge is characterized by an unclouded, radical optimism about the capabilities of the human mind. He said that we could not only clear up all the secrets of nature, but also adequately recognize God: "The human soul has an adequate knowledge of the eternal and infinite essence of God."


Franz Wulfhagen : Portrait of the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1664)

Spinoza's philosophy, which initially only had a small circle of followers in Holland (including Gerardus de Vries and Lodewijk Meyer), found favor with thinkers such as Lessing , Herder and Goethe a century later . The enlightener Pierre Bayle , on the other hand, described Spinoza's philosophy as the "most monstrous and absurd" hypothesis one could imagine. In 1744 B. v. S. Moral doctrine, refuted by the famous world wise man of our time, Mr. Christian Wolf . David Hume called Spinoza's philosophy a "hideous" theory. Finally, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi caused a sensation with his publication On the Doctrine of Spinoza in Letters to Mr. Moses Mendelssohn (first version 1785), in which he posthumously suspected Lessing of "Spinozism" or godlessness and Moses Mendelssohn as his friend began to question it . This went down in the history of philosophy as the “ pantheism controversy ”.

Around 1800 the early romantics Fichte , Schlegel , Schleiermacher , Schelling and Hegel took up some of Spinoza's ideas and discussed them in connection with Kant's criticisms. Poets like William Wordsworth , Samuel Taylor Coleridge , Percy Shelley and Georg Büchner were also inspired by Spinoza. Ludwig Feuerbach praised Spinoza as the "Moses of modern free spirits and free thinkers". Heinrich Heine wrote:

“If the Spinoza is released from its rigid, old Cartesian, mathematical form and made more accessible to the general public, then it will perhaps become clear that he will complain more than anyone about the theft of ideas. All of our philosophers today, perhaps often without knowing it, see them through the glasses that Baruch Spinoza cut. "

Friedrich Nietzsche felt strongly drawn to Spinoza's thinking. Nietzsche was particularly fascinated by his criticism of teleology , his immoralism and the “Conatus” as an anticipation of the “will to power”. However, he did not read Spinoza in the original, but through the mediation of the philosophy historian Kuno Fischer . The founder of German sociology Ferdinand Tönnies based his theory of will on Spinoza and in 1887 put his saying Voluntas atque intellectus unum et idem sunt (“Will and understanding are one and the same”) as a motto over the axiom chapter of his basic work Community and Society . Spinoza's treatise On the Origin and Nature of Emotional Movement is a consistently worked out system that theoretically captures phenomenal causality in the interaction of emotional states of tension in the perceiving person. The observations contained therein have influenced a number of social psychologists .

In the 20th century, the cultural historian Egon Friedell spoke of Spinoza's "all-consuming [...] pathological logic." The theory of an impersonal God who loves himself and does not care for the world, of a self-creating nature that excludes any free will , appeared to him to be the result of an “arrogant rationalism”. Carl Schmitt hated Spinoza because he held him responsible for "the most brazen insult that has ever been inflicted on God and man and that justifies all the curses of the synagogue", namely the sive ("or") of the formula Deus sive Natura , the equation of God and nature. By naturalizing God, Spinoza offends against the immense power of an authority, the strict, divine Father. The description of Spinoza's thinking by Slavoj Žižek , based on Gilles Deleuze , appears concise :

“For Spinoza there is no Hobbesian 'self' that is withdrawn from reality and opposed to it. Spinoza's ontology is the ontology of perfect immanence in the world - i. H. I 'am' nothing but the network of my relationships with the world and completely 'emptied' in it. My conatus , my striving to assert myself, is therefore not a self-assertion at the expense of the world, but my unconditional acceptance of the fact that I am part of the world, my bringing to bear the broader reality in which alone I can thrive . The contrast between egoism and altruism is overcome: I am not whole as an isolated self, but in the prosperous reality of which I am part. "

- Slavoj Žižek : The political suspension of the ethical

Remembrance and rehabilitation

Baruch Spinoza's grave

On the 250th anniversary of Spinoza's death in 1927, a memorial plaque was installed in the cemetery of the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague , the Latin inscription of which reads in German: "The earth here covers the bones of Benedictus de Spinoza, who was formerly buried in the New Church."

Also in 1927, Joseph Klausner , full professor of Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, declared that the Jewish people had committed a terrible sin with the Cherem against Spinoza and should lift the curse of heretics. From his speech: “Spinoza, the Jew, we exclaim ...: The ban has been lifted! The injustice of Judaism against you is hereby canceled, and your sin, whatever you may have committed against it, be forgiven you. You are our brother, you are our brother, you are our brother. ”This was discussed for a while in Jerusalem intellectual circles, but no one initiated anything concrete.

It was not until 1956, on the 300th anniversary of Spinoza's excommunication, that the discussion flared up again. HFK Douglas, a Dutch admirer of Spinoza, suggested the erection of another monument and asked Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who described himself as a Spinozist, for support, which was also granted. An organization of humanistic Jews from Haifa, which Spinoza believed to be the patriarch of Jewish humanism, donated a black basalt slab that was placed next to the old plaque on the Nieuwe Kerk. The new panel shows a relief of Spinoza's head, the word caute (“with caution”) from his signet ring and the signature amcha עמך (“your people”). As did Dutch government officials, the Israeli ambassador attended the unveiling. Orthodox members of the Knesset therefore put a motion of no confidence in David Ben Gurion and Foreign Minister Golda Meir. There was also resistance to rehabilitation elsewhere. In 2012, the Portuguese-Israelite Congregation in Amsterdam asked their Chief Rabbi, Haham Pinchas Toledano, to lift the ban on Spinoza. However, the latter refused, since Spinoza's views were to be regarded as heretical, unchanged.

The banknotes for NLG 1000 (1968–1985) bear his portrait.


The American philosophy professor and Spinoza specialist Yitzhak Melamed of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, born in Israel in 1968, considers it premature at this point in time to provide information on a comparison of the recently published edition of the Ethica and the Opera posthuma , the first edition from 1677. As also about a possible influence of the manuscript on the Spinoza reception. According to Yitzhak Melamed, the differences between the manuscript and the first edition seem to be quite small ( semblent assez minimes ). On the other hand, the variants of the manuscript could prove to be extremely useful for a better understanding of the genesis of ethics , says Melamed. In: Spinoza: l'Ethique redécouverte . Nicolas Weill in an interview with Yitzkah Melamed, Le Monde des livres, 12 juin 2020.

  • Tractatus politicus . (“Treatise on the State”) Begun in 1675, published in 1677 posthumously.

The Tractatus theologico-politicus was banned by the Dutch government in 1674 together with Thomas Hobbes ' Leviathan .

Total expenditure

  • Benedictus de Spinoza: Opera quae supersunt omnia. Edited by Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus. 2 vol., In Bibliopolio Academico, Jena 1802/03.
  • Spinoza: Opera. On behalf of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, ed. by Carl Gebhardt . [Originally] Four volumes, Heidelberg, Carl Winter-Verlag, 1925. (unaltered reprint: Carl Winter-Verlag, Heidelberg 1973) (the authoritative text-critical complete edition).
    • Volume 1: Korte Verhandeling van God, De Mensch en des zelfs Welstand, Renati Des Cartes Principiorum philosophiae pars I [en] II, Cogitata metaphysica, Compendium grammatices linguae Hebraeae, Winter, Heidelberg 1925.
    • Volume 2: Tractatus de intellectus emendatione, Ethica, Winter, Heidelberg 1925.
    • Volume 3: Tractatus theologico-politicus, Adnotationes ad Tractatum theologico-politicum, Tractatus politicus, Winter, Heidelberg 1925.
    • Volume 4: Epistolae, Stelkonstige Reeckening van den Regenboog, Reeckening van Kanssen - (review), Winter, Heidelberg 1925.
    • Volume 5: Supplementa. Commentary on the Tractatus theologico-politicus. Commentary on the Adnotationes ad tractatum theologico-politicum. Commentary on the Tractatus politicus. Introduction to the two tracts, Winter, Heidelberg 1987.
  • Opera. Latin-German, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1979 and 1980 (second, unchanged edition: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1989).
  • Baruch de Spinoza: Complete Works . Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg.
    • Wolfgang Bartuschat (ed.): Short treatise on God, man and his happiness . 5th, fundamentally revised edition. 1991, ISBN 3-7873-1039-8 (Original title: Korte Verhandeling von God, de Mensch en des zelfs Welstant . Translated by Carl Gebhardt).
    • Wolfgang Bartuschat (Hrsg.): Ethics presented in a geometric order. Latin-German . 3rd, revised and improved edition. 2010, ISBN 978-3-7873-1970-1 (Original title: Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata . Translated by Wolfgang Bartuschat).
    • Günter Gawlick (Ed.): Theological-political treatise . 3rd, revised edition. 1994, ISBN 3-7873-1191-2 (Original title: Tractatus theologico-politico . Translated by Carl Gebhardt).
    • Wolfgang Bartuschat (Ed.): Descartes' principles of philosophy presented in a geometrical way . new edition. 2005, ISBN 3-7873-1696-5 (Original title: Des Cartes Principiorum Philosophiae Pars I et II, More Geometrico demonstratae . Translated by Wolfgang Bartuschat).
    • Wolfgang Bartuschat (Ed.): Treatise on the improvement of the understanding. Latin – German . new edition. 2003, ISBN 3-7873-1643-4 (Original title: Tractatus de intellectus emendatione . Translated by Wolfgang Bartuschat).
    • Wolfgang Bartuschat (ed.): Political treatise. Latin-German . 2nd, improved edition. 2010, ISBN 978-3-7873-1960-2 (Original title: Tractatus politicus . Translated by Wolfgang Bartuschat).
    • Manfred Walther (Ed.): Correspondence . 3. Edition. 1986, ISBN 3-7873-0672-2 .
    • Manfred Walther (Ed.): Biographies and documents . New, increased edition. 1998, ISBN 3-7873-0699-4 .
    • Hans Christian Lucas, Michael John Petry (ed.): Algebraic calculation of the rainbow. Calculation of probabilities. Dutch – German . 1982, ISBN 3-7873-0563-7 .
  • Manfred Walther: Spinoza Studies. 3 volumes. University Press Winter, Heidelberg 2018.
    • Volume 1: Obedience or Knowledge. Spinoza's philosophy from a religious-philosophical perspective. ISBN 978-3-8253-6467-0 .
    • Volume 2: Nature, Law and Freedom. Spinoza's theory of law, state and politics in the context of the early modern period. ISBN 978-3-8253-6468-7 .
    • Volume 3: Spinoza in Germany. From GW Leibniz to Carl Schmitt. Philosophy - Science - Ideology. ISBN 978-3-8253-6469-4 .

Individual works and overview volumes

  • Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. (1677). Translation, notes and registers by Otto Baensch. Introduction by Rudolf Schottlaender. (= Philosophical Library. Volume 92). Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 1976, ISBN 3-7873-0160-7 .
  • Benedictus de Spinoza: The Ethics - Ethica. Latin - German. (1677). Based on the edition of Carl Gebhardt's “Spinoza Opera”. Revision of the translation by Jakob Stern (1888). Epilogue v. Bernhard Lakebrink. Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-15-000851-5 . (First edition: Reclam, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-15-000851-4 )
  • From the festivals and eternal things. Transferred and introduced by Carl Gebhardt. Carl Winter Verlag, Heidelberg 1925.


  • Spinoza in context. Requirements, work and work of a radical thinker. Interdisciplinary Center for Research on the European Enlightenment (IZEA) in Halle from September 17th to December 16th, 2010.


Philosophy bibliography : Spinoza - Additional references on the topic


  • Stanislas von Dunin-Borkowski: Spinoza. Four volumes, Münster i. W. 1933-1936.
  • Steven Nadler: Spinoza. A life. Emphasis. Cambridge University, Cambridge u. a. 1999 (below), ISBN 0-521-55210-9 .
  • Andrea Schrimm-Heins:  Spinoza, Benedictus de or Baruch de Spinoza. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 10, Bautz, Herzberg 1995, ISBN 3-88309-062-X , Sp. 1013-1019.
  • Theun de Vries : Baruch de Spinoza. With testimonials and photo documents. 10th edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-499-50171-6 .
  • Manfred Walther (Ed.): Explanations in: Spinoza - Biographies and Documents (= Baruch de Spinoza: Complete Works. Volume 7). (= Philosophical Library. Volume 96b). Increased new edition with explanations by Manfred Walther and translation of Carl Gebhardt's biographies. Felix Meiner, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-7873-0699-4 .
  • Manfred Walther; Michael Czelinski (ed.): The life story of Spinozas. Biographies and documents. 2 volumes, Frommann-Holzboog, Stuttgart / Bad Cannstatt 2006, ISBN 3-7728-2160-X (greatly expanded and newly annotated new edition of Jacob Freudenthal's life story from 1899).
  • Rebecca Goldstein : Betraying Spinoza: the renegade Jew who gave us modernity. Nextbook, Schocken / New York 2006, ISBN 0-8052-4209-0 .
  • Antonio Damasio: Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. William Heinemann, London 2003, ISBN 0-434-00787-0 (978-0151005574).


  • Henry Allison: Benedict de Spinoza. An Introduction. Yale University Press, New Haven 1987.
  • Helmut Seidel: Spinoza for an introduction . Junius, Hamburg 1994. ISBN 3-88506-905-9 .
  • Wolfgang Bartuschat: Baruch de Spinoza. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54748-6 .
  • Carlos Fraenkel: Baruch de Spinoza. In: Metzler Lexicon of Jewish Philosophers. Philosophical thinking of Judaism from antiquity to the present. Edited by Andreas B. Kilcher u. a., Verlag Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2003, pp. 158–163.
  • Don Garrett (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge / New York 1996. Standard textbook
  • HG Hubbeling: Spinoza. (Philosophy College). Karl Alber, Freiburg i. Br./ Munich 1978, ISBN 3-495-47386-6 .
  • Ernest Renan : Spinoza. Scientific publishing house, Schutterwald / Baden 1996, ISBN 3-928640-08-9 .
  • Wolfgang Röd : Benedictus de Spinoza. An introduction. Reclam, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-15-018193-3 .
  • Helmut Seidel : Spinoza for an introduction. 2nd Edition. Junius, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-88506-644-6 .

Specialist literature

  • Manuel Joël : Spinoza's theological-political treatise checked for its sources. Wroclaw 1870.
  • Manuel Joël: On the genesis of Spinoza's teaching. Wroclaw 1871.
  • Leo Baeck : Baruch Spinoza's first influences on Germany. Dissertation . 1895.
  • Etienne Balibar : Spinoza and Politics. Verso, London / New York 1998
  • KO common ground : Spinoza and his circle. Berlin 1909
  • Constantin Brunner : Spinoza against Kant and the cause of spiritual truth. (Preface in: KO Meinsma, 1909)
  • L. Roth: Spinoza, Descartes, and Maimonides. Oxford 1924.
  • Harry Wolfson: The Philosophy of Spinoza. 2 volumes. Harvard UP, Cambridge, MA 1934 (still an important study, but in many respects very controversial study).
  • Wilfried Röhrich : State of Freedom. On Spinoza's political philosophy. Melzer, Darmstadt 1969.
  • Antonio Negri : The Savage Anomaly. The Power of Spinoza's Metaphysics and Politics. (orig. L'anomalia selvaggia. Saggio sul potere e potenza in Baruch de Spinoza. 1981) Translation by Michael Hardt . Minnesota UP, Minneapolis / Oxford 1991.
  • Jonathan Bennett : A Study of Spinoza's Ethics . Hackett, Indianapolis 1984. Standard work
  • Edwin Curley: Behind the Geometric Method. Princeton UP, 1988.
  • Heidi Ravven, Lenn E. Goodman (Ed.): Jewish Themes in Spinoza's Philosophy. SUNY Press, Albany, NY 2002.
  • B. Sandkaulen, W. Jaeschke (Ed.): Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. A turning point in the intellectual education of the time. Meiner, Hamburg 2004.
  • Michael Post: Spinoza's monistic ontology. Neuss 2006, ISBN 3-00-019572-6 .
  • Michael Della Rocca : Spinoza. Routledge, London / New York 2008, ISBN 978-0-415-28330-4 . Standard work
  • Karl Reitter : Processes of Liberation. Marx, Spinoza and the conditions of a free community. Westphalian steam boat, Münster 2011, ISBN 978-3-89691-887-1 .
  • Jan-Hendrik Wulf: Spinoza in the Jewish Enlightenment . Dissertation. Akademie-Verlag, 2012.
  • Katja Diefenbach : Speculative Materialism: Spinoza in Post-Marxist Philosophy. Turia + Kant, Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-85132-888-2 .


  • Leo Baeck : Spinoza's first influences on Germany. Dissertation. 1895.
  • Martin Bollacher: The young Goethe and Spinoza. Studies on the history of Spinozism in the epoch of storm and urge. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1969; Reprint: De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-102349-6 .
  • Martin Bollacher, Roger Henrard, Wim Klever (eds.): Studia Spinozana. Volume 5: Spinoza and Literature. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1989, ISBN 3-88479-546-5 .
  • Hermann Timm: God and freedom. Studies on the philosophy of religion of the Goethe era. Volume 1: The Spinozarenaissance. Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1974, ISBN 978-3-465-01049-4 .
  • Wolfgang Bartuschat: The freedom to philosophize: Baruch de Spinoza. In: Merkur (magazine) for European thinking. 64th vol., H. 736/737 September / October 2010, pp. 751-758.
  • Michael Czelinski-Uesbeck: The virtuous atheist. Studies on the prehistory of the Spinoza Renaissance. Dissertation. Hanover 2004. Königshausen & Neumann , Würzburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8260-3536-4 .
  • Hanna Delf et al. (Ed.): Spinoza in the European intellectual history. Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1994.
  • Jan Eike Dunkhase: Spinoza the Hebrews. To an Israeli memory figure. with a foreword by Dan Diner . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-525-35112-3 .
  • Eva Schürmann, Norbert Waszek , Frank Weinreich (eds.): Spinoza in Germany in the eighteenth century. Frommann-Holzboog, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2002, ISBN 3-7728-2027-1 .
  • Pascal Firges: Eros in Hyperion . Platonic and Spinozist ideas in Hölderlin's novel. (= Cultural history series. 11). Sonnenberg, Annweiler 2010, ISBN 978-3-933264-61-9 .
  • António R. Damásio : The Spinoza Effect - How feelings determine our life. List, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-548-60494-3 .


Web links

Commons : Baruch Spinoza  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Baruch Spinoza  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Benedictus de Spinoza  - Sources and full texts (Latin)


  1. Probably made on behalf of the scholar Johann Eberhard Schweling , the picture is now in private ownership in France.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Yves Citton: L'envers de la liberté. L'invention d'un imaginaire spinoziste dans la France des Lumières. Éditions Amsterdam, Paris 2006, p. 17.
  2. ^ Heribert Nobis : Spinoza. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 1349 f .; here: p. 1349.
  3. a b Theun de Vries: Baruch de Spinoza. In self-testimonials and picture documents. Rowohlt, Hamburg 1976, p. 21.
  4. Stephen Nadler: Spinoza, A Life. 1999, p. 23. Google Books
  5. Akevoth Register ( Memento from December 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ); Michael Espinosa (25212), Ester de Soliz (25142), Mirjan (4583), Isaac (25170), Hana (25157), Rachel (25222), Isaak (25168), child (25055)
  6. Note of the ban that was published on April 6th from the altar against Baruch Espinoza (from the Portuguese by Paulo Bitencourt): The gentlemen of the board of directors announce to you: Since they have been news of the evil views and works of Baruch de Espinoza for days they tried, by various means and assurances, to remove him from his evil ways, but since they were unable to cure him, on the contrary, as they received greater news every day of his horrific heresies which he committed and taught, and of the enormous works that he performed, of which there are many credible witnesses who testified and testified in the presence of said Espinoza and of which they are convinced examined everything in the presence of the rabbis, with their advice they decided that Said Espinoza is banished from the nation of Israel and removed with the following ban . With the judgment of the angels, with the saying of the saints, with the approval of God's gift of blessings and this whole holy church and these holy books, with the six hundred and thirteen commandments written in them, with the curse with which Joshua cursed Jericho, and with the curse with which Elisha cursed the boys, and with all the curses that are written in the law, we banish, repudiate, curse and curse Baruch de Espinosa. Cursed be he during the day and cursed be he at night, cursed be he when he lies down, cursed be he when he gets up, cursed be he when he goes in, and cursed is he when he goes out. May the Lord, who then reside in this man in whom all the curses that are written in the book of this law will lie, his anger and resentment to burn and with all the curses of heaven that are written in the book of the law Will erase names from under heaven and, to its evil, remove them from all the tribes of Israel, do not forgive. And you who are devoted to the Lord your God are all alive today. We warn that no one may communicate with him orally or in writing, or do him any favors, or read him under one roof or closer than four cubits to his or any paper he has written.
  7. ^ Spinoza, Baruch on Jewish Encyclopedia . Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  8. Benedict de Spinoza on Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  9. ("By God I understand the unconditionally infinite being, that is, the substance that consists of an infinite number of attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite being.") Baruch de Spinoza: Ethics presented according to the geometric method. (= Philosophical Library. Volume 92). Volume I, Def. 6, translated by Otto Baensch. Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 1976, ISBN 3-7873-0160-7 , p. 4.
  10. ^ Benedictus de Spinoza: Ethica, I, Def. 3
  11. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume I, 1976, Def. 3, p. 3.
  12. Benedictus de Spinoza: Prop. 8, 13-14
  13. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume I, 1976, Prop. 6.
  14. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume I, 1976, Prop. 6, 1976, p. 6.
  15. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume I, 1976 Def. 1.
  16. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume I, 1976, Prop. 17, Note, p. 23.
  17. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume II, 1976, Prop. 7, p. 54.
  18. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume I, 1976, Appendix, p. 44.
  19. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume III, 1976, Definitions of Affects, No. 26, p. 175.
  20. Wolfgang Bartuschat: The theory of the good in the 4th part of ethics. In: Michael Hampe, Robert Schnepf (Ed.): Baruch de Spinoza. Ethics presented in geometric order. P. 238 f.
  21. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume V, 1976, Prop. 42, p. 295.
  22. Red. Note 102 on Karl Marx: Das Kapital. First volume. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1969, p. 855.
  23. Baruch de Spinoza: The ethics presented according to the geometric method. Volume II, 1976, Prop. 47, p. 96.
  24. Walter Jaeschke, Werner Schuffenhauer (Ed.): Ludwig Feuerbach, drafts for a new philosophy. Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-7873-1077-0 , p. 47.
  25. ^ Heinrich Heine: The romantic school (= complete works . Volume 3). Artemis and Winkler, 1996, p. 330.
  26. Andreas Urs Sommer : Nietzsche's Readings on Spinoza. A Contextualist Study, Particularly on the Reception of Kuno Fischer. In: Journal of Nietzsche Studies. 43/2 (2012), pp. 156-184.
  27. ^ Fritz Heider : Social perception and phenomenal causality. In: Martin Irle , Mario von Cranach, Hermann Vetter (Eds.): Texts from experimental social psychology. Luchterhand, 1969, p. 42.
  28. Schmitt quoted from Arno Gruen : The stranger in us. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-608-94282-3 , p. 141.
  29. ^ Slavoj Žižek: The political suspension of the ethical. Suhrkamp, ​​2005, p. 38.
  30. ^ Yalom: The Spinoza Problem. btb-Tabu, 2013, p. 449.
  31. Amos Oz: A Story of Love and Darkness. Suhrkamp tb, Frankfurt am Main 2008, p. 28.
  32. Amos Oz: A Story of Love and Darkness. 2008, pp. 688-689.
  33. ^ Yalom: The Spinoza Problem. 2013, p. 449/450.
  34. Simon Rocker: Why Baruch Spinoza is still excommunicated. In: The Jewish Chronicle Online. August 28, 2014, accessed January 27, 2015 .