Baruch de Spinoza

Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese origin and is today numbered among the most important thinkers of the early modern era. His metaphysical and political views were considered to be offensive during his life and were probably the reason that led to his excommunication from the Jewish community in Amsterdam. His posthumously published Ethics as well as the anonymously published Tractatus theologico-politicus are considered to be his main works. Therein Spinoza argues for the abandonment of any theory of a personal Creator God in favour of a single (divine) substance, develops his own theory of affects and questions religious authorities by means of meticulous biblical interpretation. His theory presupposes the possibility of a rational explanation of the world and can be read as a plea for a free and independent (especially independent of theology) philosophizing, which has brought him repeatedly in conflict with church authorities. Up to his death in The Hague in 1677, Spinoza lived a secluded life by earning money as an optician.