Spinoza (1632-1677)

About his life
Baruch d'Espinoza is born in Amsterdam. ring_zegel_Spinoza
He belongs to the sefardic-Jewish community, which bans him when he is 24. He changes his first name in Benedictus. As a sun of a merchant he than had already met some not-Jewish friends, with whom he keeps good contacts during his whole life.  spinozaklein

By them he gets contact with publisher Jan Rieuwertsz, who edits the works of René Descartes (1596-1650). In his times Descartes was very controversial and of caution he  let parts of his work publish after his death. Spinoza's works too will be only published mainly only after his death by Rieuwertsz. This was made possible by a circle of trusted friends.  

Critcs on bible and secular rulers  
/Theological Political Treatise

In the TPT from 1670 Spinoza shows that texts in the Bible in many places 'betrays the human spirit so much' that these can't be written by God. He considers them as 'inventions of the human fantasy', as superstition. Besides that, ecclestiatic authority does sometimes explain the texts as it suits them. Take the Fall. The Jewish religion does not know this. This raises the question: where in the Bible stands that man is sinfull by the Fall?

Preface TPT 5: 'Nothing rules the masses more effectively than superstition'. TPT 7 ‘So they fight for their own slavery as if it was for their salvation’.

charles-le-brun-alexander100x120-1665-detailSecular rulers toot do present the people with religious ideas theat are not in their own interests but in that of their monarch. Louis XIV, the self-proclaimed Sun-King, preaised Alexander the Great as an example. Spinoza says in the TPT that Alexander the Great said to himself, let people think that it is worth to die for a ruler who is seen as the sun of God. Strijdheroiek_le_BrunCharles le Brun, Louis XIV'th favorite painter made pictures of a Triumphing soldier above an enormous pile of dead bodies and horses. Without mentioning Louis XIV, Spinoza warns in his sketch of Alexander for The Sun King and his lust for power.

'Alexander the Great lets himself be greeted as the sun of Jupiter. As he himself says: “If Jupiter in his oracle calls me his 'son', it would be laughable not to take the name. Moreover I can use it by all I undertake. I wish Indians to believe too that I am a god.” In war ones reputation makes the difference. Often what had been wrongly believed gets the power of truth.’ ~ TPT 17,6

Love your neighbour and justice in the bible; democracy /TPT
Spinoza saw in the Bible that 'the prophets only learned very simple things, that everybody can understand and that they used a style of writing that suited the best to enable to bring the masses to devotion towards God'. Spinoza sees the visual stories about love for the neighbour and justice that are told by the prophets in the light of the ability of the people to comprehend. The stories contribute to peace and safety in the state. The best form of state is the one, in which independent people have most control themselves. That is, so he says in the TPT in 1670: democracy.

Looking for the best form of government /Political Treatise

The TPT did not prevent the Netherlands of the invasion and the occupation until Utrecht of Louis XIV in 1672. Spinoza had to reconcile himself with the fact that a democracy, as had partly been the case in the period before in the Republic, was of the job for the time being. In the PT (1677) Spinoza discusses the 'best conditions' in forms of government including monarchy.