Spinoza and Other Heretics: The Marrano of Reason

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Princeton University Press, Oct 1, 1991 - Philosophy - 264 pages
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This ambitious study presents Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) as the most outstanding and influential thinker of modernity--and examines the question of whether he was the "first secular Jew." A number-one bestseller in Israel, Spinoza and Other Heretics is made up of two volumes--The Marrano of Reason and The Adventures of Immanence. Yirmiyahu Yovel shows how Spinoza grounded a philosophical revolution in a radically new principle--the philosophy of immanence, or the idea that this world is all there is--and how he thereby anticipated secularization, the Enlightenment, the disintegration of ghetto life, and the rise of natural science and the liberal-democratic state.

The Marrano of Reason

The Marrano of Reason finds the origins of the idea of immanence in the culture of Spinoza's Marrano ancestors, Jews in Spain and Portugal who had been forcibly converted to Christianity. Yovel uses their fascinating story to show how the crypto-Jewish life they maintained in the face of the Inquisition mixed Judaism and Christianity in ways that undermined both religions and led to rational skepticism and secularism. He identifies Marrano patterns that recur in Spinoza in a secularized context: a "this-worldly" disposition, a split religious identity, an opposition between inner and outer life, a quest for salvation outside official doctrines, and a gift for dual language and equivocation. This same background explains the drama of the young Spinoza's excommunication from the Jewish community in his native Amsterdam. Convention portrays the Amsterdam Jews as narrow-minded and fanatical, but in Yovel's vivid account they emerge as highly civilized former Marranos with cosmopolitan leanings, struggling to renew their Jewish identity and to build a "new Jerusalem" in the Netherlands.


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Called by Yovel the first important philosopher of immanence, Spinoza considered God and nature to be identical, a new doctrine that broke radically with Judaism and Christianity. Yovel finds the ... Read full review


Prologue Heretic and Banned
Spinoza the Marrano of Reason
The Split Mind New Jews in Amsterdam
Marranos in Mask and a World without Transcendence Rojas and La Celestina
Spinoza the Multitude and Dual Language
Knowledge as Alternative Salvation
Epilogue Spinoza and His People The First Secular Jew?

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Spinoza: A Life
Steven Nadler
Limited preview - 2001
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About the author (1991)

Yirmiyahu Yovel is Schulman Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hans Jonas Professor at the Graduate Faculty, the New School for Social Research, New York. He is the author of Spinoza and Other Heretics (1989).

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