Spinoza, his life and philosophy; (1899) by Frederick Pollock

Spinoza, his life and philosophy; 

Spinoza, his life and philosophy;


The purpose of this book is to put before English readers an account, fairly complete in itself and on a fairly adequate scale, of the life and philosophy of Spinoza. It aims, in the first instance, at being understood by those who have not made a special study of the subject; but my hope, expressed in the first edition, that it might be of some use to some who already know Spinoza at first hand, and even to critical students of philosophy, has, I believe, been fulfilled. 

In this edition, I have not thought it desirable to reproduce the critical and bibliographical matter which I formerly collected in this place. Nothing short of a complete supplement to Van der Linde's Benedictus Spinoza: Bihliografie (The Hague, 1871) would be adequate, and it is beyond my powers and leisure to undertake such a supplement at the present day. The first edition remains accessible in public Libraries, and the appendix to the title Spinoza in the British Museum Catalogue (now also accessible in print in many libraries) will guide special students, if desired, to the recent literature of the subject. A few items of special interest to English readers have, however, been worked into the body of the book. I must make one exception to my rule to mention that Renan's commemorative address on Spinoza, which is a classical piece of literature, is now reprinted in Nouvelles Etudes d''Histoire.

 November 1632. His parents were members of the community of Jewish emigrants from Portugal and Spain which had then been established in the Netherlands for something more than a generation. One Abraham Espinoza, possibly Baruch's grandfather, settled there about the end of the sixteenth century. Baruch's -father was named Michael and came from Figueira near Coimbra in Portugal. He was thrice married 3 Baruch was a child of the second marriage. The other children who grew up were two daughters, Rebecca by the first marriage and Miriam by the second. 

The house in Amsterdam where Michael d'Espinoza and Hanna Debora his second wife were living at the date of Baruch's birth cannot now be identified. Before we enter Spinoza's life, it may be not amiss to let our attention rest for a while on the society in which he was brought up, the vicissitudes of its foundation and growth, and the tone of thought and instruction which prevailed in it.^ Something we may there find to throw light on the manner in which the early signs of Spinoza's philosophical genius were received by his own people, though we shall assuredly be disappointed if we look in external circumstances of education or study, in the influence of masters or companions either Jewish or Gentile, for an ex- planation of that genius itself. It was well said of an Indian poet: " Of mighty men and of great rivers the springs are obscure." 

The enlarged and purified vision of modern science may perceive much, and guess more, of the conditions that make the appearance of genius possible. But the conditions which fix it at the very time and place, the secret workings of nature which bring it to pass that an ^schylus, a Leonardo, a Faraday, a Kant, or a Spinoza is born upon the earth, are as obscure now as they were a thousand years ago. The power of these men still bears with it the reverence and awe that belong to great things unaccountable.

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