Spinoza, Baruch (1632-1677)

A Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origins. He received a Hebraic education. But he also discovered the philosophy of Descartes, the science of Galileo, frequented liberal Christian circles and let himself be won over by the spirit of doubt and the spirit of rationalism. Anxious to call into question political and religious values, and every dogma, Jewish or Christian, he was expelled from the Jewish community and survived as an artisan, as a lens grinder. The majority of his life was nevertheless devoted to philosophy, but the hostility which his Tractatus theologico-politicus (1670) was met with, a work of ‘liberal’ inspiration, convinced him to publish nothing further during his lifetime. Spinoza’s thought presents itself as a liberating message as regards all the constraints and the joys procured by knowledge, this ‘beatitude’ which offers the wise the power to master their passions. Spinoza conceived of life in society as the meeting of beings who have accepted each other. But a right to insurrection exists when public liberty is menaced.