Rebecca and the Renegade

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Message Failed. Contact for Price. Book Values. That was the first phase of her involvement with Spinoza; and it signals that this book is, to some extent, one about her as well as one about Spinoza. When she was a university student, her philosophy teachers all taught analytic philosophy, which maintained that metaphysics, such as those put forward by Spinoza, made no sense.

But after she had become a young assistant professor of philosophy herself, the chair of her department asked her to teach a course on Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. She now became fascinated by Spinoza the philosopher.

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That was the second phase of her involvement with him. The third phase came when, despite this, she could not help being drawn to Spinoza the individual, by his Jewishness, and by the background against which he lived; and this book gives way to the urge to explore these aspects: hence the title of the book. Hence the ferocity of the herem excommunication it pronounced against him.

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In her third chapter Goldstein traces the roots of Sephardi Jewish political and cultural experience back to the Golden Age of the Jews in medieval Spain; and, for good measure, she also goes into the long and painful experience of the Ashkenazi Jews. None of this account is in any way original, and the links with the Amsterdam Jewish community in general and with Spinoza in particular are mostly tenuous in the extreme.

In the fourth chapter Goldstein asks what it means to be Jewish. Once a Jew, always a Jew? Once of Jewish ancestry, always a Jew? Was a Marrano who only outwardly practised Christianity still a Jew? Did it apply to Jews who had gravely sinned, as the kabbalists maintained, or was eternal punishment in hell reserved for them, since they were no longer Israelites? On this question the Amsterdam rabbis were sharply divided.

The kabbalists accused their opponents of having imported Christian doctrines of eternal damnation into Judaism. In particular, in what sense can Spinoza, who, after the herem, no longer believed in the Jewish religion, still be regarded as a Jew? Did he himself in any way feel connected to Judaism? Goldstein takes a phrase in one of his last letters to show that perhaps he did p. I do not think that phrase can bear the weight of this suggestion, though I think, as Goldstein does herself, it is well-nigh impossible to think that, given the tragic history of the Jews and, indeed, his own Jewish upbringing , he would not - like all Jews, whether secular renegades or even converts - in some sense feel connected, whether he wrote or spoke about it or not.

In parts of the fifth chapter Goldstein imagines the thoughts that led the young Spinoza to question, from his schooldays onwards, what he had been taught by the rabbis. A footnote admits that hers is a speculative construction. I have to say this was a very readable book and gave me a good lesson in Jewish history; especially in the C16 and C The story of their expulsion from Portugal and Spain and arrival in Amsterdam was clear and interesting.

However, I learnt almost nothing about Spinoza's philosophy: what was discussed was either too little or too much. So, odd extracts were quoted with only the most superficial commentary, or hardly anything at all making the connection to the narrative vague. I think I read the wrong book and need a more detailed discussion of the actual philosophy because it is very special indeed. Anyone wanting to get a feel for Spinoza's personality and life will enjoy this book. Interesting read, especially because it is written by somebody who has a Jewish orthodox background. Spinoza is a fascinating philosopher and.

A fantastic read! Spinoza is a fascinating philosopher and, it may be argued, not as celebrated as he ought to be. Goldstein's novel brings about the personal aspects of his story as well as grappling with his philosophy. Would recommend. This book is exactly what the headline says: an investigation and portrait of the life of, and time in which he lived.

Do not expect to learn a lot about his philosophy, because that's not what this book is about. After reading it, I found myself wanting to learn more about both Spinoza and Goldstein. Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. An excellent read about a man who challenged the orthodoxy of Judaism with a mathematical proof of the existence of God. A genius par pareil.

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Format: Hardcover. The era known as The Enlightenment is characterised by many breaks with tradition. Protestant Christianity had consolidated its gains against the monolithic Roman Church, raising national consciousness in the process. The printing press expanded the reach of knowledge and imperialism added new discoveries of nature. Although the religious wars that had racked Europe had subsided, an expanded view of the world had raised new challenges.

If the world was so vast and varied, where was humanity's true place in it? One man brought many of the questions together and formulated a new version of faith.


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Baruch Spinoza, an Amsterdam Jew, instilled a religion based on reason. In this captivating account of the roots of Spinoza's thinking, Goldstein has done more than simply delineate his life. She firmly establishes that excommunicated as he was, Spinoza remained fundamentally Jewish.

More so, perhaps, than any of his contemporaries or predecessors. WR drew her head back and a piercing cry exited her mouth, in symphony with the thunder and lightning. The rain was beating against the shelter and the group could feel the gnarly dread form under their skin.

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It was questionable whether or not they would exist in the next hour. Like the boss in a video game. Some of us have no tactical training. She felt a small lump form in her throat from the stress. Should I be praying right now? Is it ever too late to start? A turkey vulture—seemingly on queue—was taking shade under a tree, waiting patiently for bloodshed. It had been waiting all day for a decent meal.

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Regardless of who wins in this situation, it would definitely have something to eat. It was hoping it would be the humans, because it had never tasted W. Laura, noticing the bird, was feeling the weight of the situation. Get your guns ready.


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