Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Aug 11, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 287 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.

"From the Hardcover edition."

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User 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

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User 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

Contents

Baruch Bento Benedictus
3
In Search of Baruch
17
The Project of Escape
67
Identity Crisis
124
Epilogue
258
Chronology
265
Notes
273
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN is the author of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel and of six works of fi ction. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has received many awards for her fiction and scholarship, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She lives in Massachusetts.

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