Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 287 pages
30 Reviews
Part of the Jewish Encounter series

In 1656, Amsterdam’s Jewish community excommunicated Baruch Spinoza, and, at the age of twenty–three, he became the most famous heretic in Judaism. He was already germinating a secularist challenge to religion that would be as radical as it was original. He went on to produce one of the most ambitious systems in the history of Western philosophy, so ahead of its time that scientists today, from string theorists to neurobiologists, count themselves among Spinoza’s progeny.

InBetraying Spinoza,Rebecca Goldstein sets out to rediscover the flesh-and-blood man often hidden beneath the veneer of rigorous rationality, and to crack the mystery of the breach between the philosopher and his Jewish past. Goldstein argues that the trauma of the Inquisition’ s persecution of its forced Jewish converts plays itself out in Spinoza’s philosophy. The excommunicated Spinoza, no less than his excommunicators, was responding to Europe’ s first experiment with racial anti-Semitism.

Here is a Spinoza both hauntingly emblematic and deeply human, both heretic and hero—a surprisingly contemporary figure ripe for our own uncertain age.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Review: Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity (Jewish Encounters)

User Review  - Bruce Hartman - Goodreads

This is one of the best written and most accessible books on Spinoza that has been written. Rebecca Goldstein is a novelist as well as a philosopher and she writes with the best qualities of both. Read full review

Review: Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity

User Review  - Solor - Goodreads

I have become a Spinoza enthusiast since I started to develop a serious interest into oriental philosophy. Thus I have began reading up on him and his system. After reading Spinoza: A Life, a thorough ... Read full review

About the author (2009)

REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN is the author of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel and of six works of fi ction. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has received many awards for her fiction and scholarship, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She lives in Massachusetts.

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