Spinoza's Dutch Philosophical Background

In Yitzhak Y. Melamed (ed.), A Companion to Spinoza. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. pp. 68–80 (2021)
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Abstract

This chapter outlines the intellectual world of the Netherlands during Spinoza's lifetimes. It starts with Scholasticism, which dominated Leiden, the country's leading university, during the first half of the seventeenth century. The teaching of philosophy in the early years of Leiden University, established in 1575, was inspired by humanist ideals of education. It had an introductory and philological nature, and lacked metaphysical training. The chapter deals with Cartesianism, which inspired Spinoza, especially in its non‐academic forms. Cartesianism is both part of Spinoza's historical context and a source of inspiration for him. Jelles wrote in his short biography that, after his theological studies, Spinoza discovered writings of the “noble philosopher Descartes”. The disbandment of scholastic theology implied a new view of Scripture. The main premise of Van Velthuysen's hermeneutics is the divine origin of Scripture. In the philosophical faculties, Cartesians tended to distinguish between moral and natural knowledge and to limit the scope of philosophy.

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Henri Krop
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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