An entertaining and accessible introduction to the radical philosopher of freedom of thought and religion is the only biography of Spinoza for young adults.
A brilliant schoolboy in 17th-century Amsterdam, Bento Spinoza⏤formally Baruch and later Benedict de Spinoza⏤quickly learns to keep his ideas to himself. When he is 23, those ideas prove so scandalous to his own Jewish community that he is cast out, cursed, and effectively erased from their communal life. The scandal shows no sign of waning as his ideas spread throughout Europe. At the center of the storm, he lives the simplest of lives, quietly devoted to his work as a lens grinder and to his steadfast search for truth, striving to embody a philosophy of tolerance and benevolence. Spinoza does not live to see his ideas change the world.
What caused such an uproar? Spinoza challenged age-old ideas about God, the Bible, and religion. His God was the sum total of nature, not a father-figure who created the world and takes care of humankind. His bible was a book like any other, not a holy text to be interpreted only by religious authorities. His religion was a commitment to basic moral behavior, not a collection of superstitions or rituals. For such ideas, Spinoza was reviled, but he emerged from his experience as one of history’s most articulate voices for freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. Those of us who enjoy the fundamental rights of modern democracies are the beneficiaries of Spinoza’s quiet bravery.
Spinoza: The Outcast Thinker is the second book in the new Philosophy for Young People series, introducing readers to seminal philosophers from ancient times up through the present day.