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PHIL 2101: Introduction to Philosophy: Spinoza

OER for Prof. Dunn and Prof. Kang

About Baruch Spinoza

Portrait of Baruch Spinoza

Dutch philosopher, one of the last great metaphysical thinkers of the ‘rationalist’ period in philosophy. In his major work, The Ethics, he starts from supposedly self-evident truths and rigorously develops them through the use of reason and deductive argument. His commitment to the power of reason and to the view that man can gain knowledge of reality through the powers of the mind alone culminates in a profound vision of the world and of man's place within it.

Spinoza was born in Amsterdam of Portuguese Jewish stock. He was educated initially in the Jewish school, but later received Latin lessons from a private tutor, Van Den Ende, who introduced him to the scientific and philosophical developments of the day. Spinoza's growing commitment to secular thought and philosophy brought him into conflict with the Jewish authorities, and in 1656 he was expelled from the synagogue for his ‘heretical’ views. His Hebrew name, Baruch, he abandoned for its Latin form, Benedictus. The remainder of his life was spent developing his philosophical system while earning a living from polishing and grinding lenses. His reputation as a heretic and atheist did not prevent him carrying on an extensive correspondence with other major thinkers, but only one of his works, the Theological–Political Treatise, was published (anonymously) during his lifetime. His other works—A Short Treatise on GodMan and his Well-Being, the Treatise on the Emendation of the IntellectThe Ethics, and the unfinished Political Treatise—were collected and published by his friends shortly after his death from consumption.

Read more on Oxford Reference

Image source: 

Unknown. (1665). Portrait of Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), ca. 1665 [Oil]. 1377 x 1600 pixels. Retrieved from

Biography source:

North, Joanna. "Spinoza, Benedict de." The Oxford Companion to the Mind. : Oxford University Press, January 01, 2006. Oxford Reference. Date Accessed 24 Oct. 2018 <>.

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