What is this site all about?

On the following pages there are selections from the works of Spinoza and below them are comments or a paraphrases of the selections; something that is meant to help the understanding of Spinoza's words.

Spinoza wrote four books of his philosophy The Improvement of the Intellect (unfinished), Ethics (his masterpiece), Theologico-Political Treatise, and the Tractatus Politicus (unfinished). Only the Theologico-Political Treatise was published in his lifetime but it appeared without his name on it. It was roundly condemned as the work of the devil and banned by the authorities. His friends published the rest of his writings after his death.

This site is in two sections; Spinoza's actual words with comments on them and a section with pages about him and his works. The section with Spinoza's words start with quotes from The Improvement of the Intellect. It is his most personal statement. The subsequent pages present selections from all of Spinoza's books and include some portions of his letters. There are more than 150 pages. There is a section for each of his books and each selection has a phrase describing its content. The pages can be read in any order that pleases the reader.

So to begin...

Spinoza wrote three other books; an early work explained the philosophy of Rene Descartes, mathematician, scientist and philosopher (1596 - 1650) whose new ideas had aroused the intellectual world of Europe. Spinoza’s friends urged him to write it. They helped publish it with his name as author although he made it clear he did not agree with Descartes’ premise of a dualistic world of mind separate from body. It made Spinoza’s name known in intellectual circles. Later he also wrote a Hebrew grammar to help Christians read the Jewish Bible. A copy of the third book was a manuscript not discovered until 1862. It was not published by Spinoza's friends either because they didn't know about it or they considered it a preliminary draft of the Ethics. Its title is Short Treatise on God, Man and his Well-being. It is not written in the difficult geometric form as the Ethics is. This so-called “lost” book will be the last part of the selections.

In 1932 on the occasion of the 300 anniversary of Spinoza's birth Prof. Frederick Woodbridge of Columbia University gave a memorial lecture. It is a concise description of Spinoza's intentions and the effect of his philosophy. It is a wonderful introduction to Spinoza's world-view and is available by clicking here - Woodbridge.

If any of the comments seem wrong or obscure to you I hope you will help correct them.

For contact please click: SpinozaSeminars@comcast.net