Benedict Spinoza is a highly regarded philosopher of the 17th century, often receiving the same high regards as Socrates (Baird, 498). Born to the parents of Jewish refugees from Portugal, the Dutch philosopher was never regarded as a citizen of Holland and found it hard to escape the persecution suffered by those of the Jewish faith. Due to the fact that Spinoza was an original thinker, he became an outsider within the Dutch Jewish community. Often persecuted for his unorthodox beliefs, he was excommunicated by the Jewish community in 1656 at the age of 23 (Baird, 498). Spinoza, at first was fairly interested in Descartes’ dualistic beliefs, realizing that religion and truth must be separate to purely obtain knowledge (Baird, 498). However, unlike Descartes and more similar to Socrates, Spinoza viewed philosophy as a way of life rather than a pathway to power (Baird, 498).
After rejecting multiple offers to hold positions at various institutes which promoted knowledge and philosophy, Benedict Spinoza sought refuge in The Hague and studied philosophy independently. Spinoza felt that the Bible did not aim at obtaining truth. Rather, Spinoza felt it focused on rendering followers obedient to Christian faith and to the church (Baird, 498). Through his early teachings and persecution, Spinoza came to the realization that religion was merely “received authority” (Dutton, 2006). As earlier mentioned, Spinoza gravitated towards Descartes’ theory of dualism- the existence of the mind and body as two separate substances (Landry, 2004). However, Spinoza eventually distanced himself from Descartes’ dualism as he thought he contradicted himself when he labeled both “infinite substance” and “finite substances” (Baird, 499). Spinoza agreed that there was in fact an infinite substance but viewed it as the only real substance, laying the foundation of Spinozan monism and validating his claim in the first book of Ethics.
The concept of monism lies in...