Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Aug 11, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
Part of the Jewish Encounter series
In 1656, Amsterdam’s Jewish community excommunicated Baruch Spinoza, and, at the age of twenty–three, he became the most famous heretic in Judaism. He was already germinating a secularist challenge to religion that would be as radical as it was original. He went on to produce one of the most ambitious systems in the history of Western philosophy, so ahead of its time that scientists today, from string theorists to neurobiologists, count themselves among Spinoza’s progeny.
In Betraying Spinoza, Rebecca Goldstein sets out to rediscover the flesh-and-blood man often hidden beneath the veneer of rigorous rationality, and to crack the mystery of the breach between the philosopher and his Jewish past. Goldstein argues that the trauma of the Inquisition’ s persecution of its forced Jewish converts plays itself out in Spinoza’s philosophy. The excommunicated Spinoza, no less than his excommunicators, was responding to Europe’ s first experiment with racial anti-Semitism.
Here is a Spinoza both hauntingly emblematic and deeply human, both heretic and hero—a surprisingly contemporary figure ripe for our own uncertain age.
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Yet this misguided young man, my teacher continued, ascending toward the
climax, who might have used his superior mind to increase our knowledge of the
Torah, had died with the pagan name of Bcned ictus, excommunicated and
Schoenfeld's students were not yet married (though many of us, including me,
would become engaged in our senior year of high school), and so our hair, unlike
our teacher's, was still exposed in all its maidenly glory. Otherwise, we were ...
I had caught the look of discomfort on my tenth-grade biology teacher's lace,
listening to our rabbi-principal explain to us that, because of the New York State
Regents exam, we were going to have to study an untrue theory fabricated by ...
... "respect for parents and teachers" — was a virtue drilled into us from an early
age. Spinoza, my teacher reiterated, was an atheist, even though when the
Amsterdam community excommunicated him he hadn't yet revealed the full
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - MarkBeronte - LibraryThing
In 1656, Amsterdam’s Jewish community excommunicated Baruch Spinoza, and, at the age of twenty–three, he became the most famous heretic in Judaism. He was already germinating a secularist challenge to ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - KidSisyphus - LibraryThing
"By decree of the angels and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of the entire holy ... Read full review