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CAS WR 150 (10)

Notes on Spinoza (2)

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Boston University
CAS WR 150
Donald Gillis

NADLER Citation: Nadler, Steven M. Spinoza: A Life. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 1999. Print. Biography Info: • Son of a prominent merchant in Amsterdam’s Portuguese-Jewish community (Nadler xi) • Around his twenty-third year, something happened that “led to the harshest excommunication ever proclaimed by the leaders of theAmsterdam Sephardim” (Nadler xi) • Spinoza was excommunicated from the community and from “Judaism entirely” (Nadler xi) • “There is so little surviving material, so little that is known for certain about the details of Spinoza’s life, particularly before 1661 (when his extant correspondence begins)” (Nadler xi) • “Metaphysical and moral philosopher, political and religious thinker, biblical exegete, social critic, grinder of lenses, failed merchant, Dutch intellectual, Jewish heretic” • His social context: “the community of Portuguese and Spanish immigrants, . . . who found refuge and economic opportunity in the newly independent Dutch Republic; the turbulent politics and magnificent culture of that young nation which, in the middle of the seventeenth century, was experiencing its so-called GoldenAge” (Nadler xi) • “As a Jew, . . . Spinoza was always, to a certain extent, an outsider in the Calvinist land in which he was born from which, as far as we know, he never traveled” (Nadler xii) • “what did it mean to be a philosopher and a Jew in the Dutch GoldenAge?” (Nadler xiii) In regards to the letter: • Received the letter in September 1675 (Nadler 336) • Albert Burgh, was the son of a wealthy regent family and a friend (student), who was now 24 years old, writing from Florence (Nadler 336) • Son of Conraad Burgh, Treasurer of the Republic of the Netherlands (Nadler 336) • “Burgh had been, according to the same witness, on the verge of moving ‘from heresy to atheism, on account of the friendship he had entered into with Spinoza, the most impious and most dangerous man of the century,’had it not been for the fact that ‘God took pity on him’ and led him abr
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