Baruch Spinoza- Biblical Criticism and laying the Groundwork for Enlightenment
Baruch Spinoza is considered one of the most influential figures in modern philosophy and is largely credited with expanding the view that argues in favor of rationalizing theology, especially concerning the Judeo-Christian school of thought.
Spinoza was born on 24th November 1962 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was born and raised a Jew by his parents who were of Portuguese origin. He had a traditional Jewish upbringing and he attended A Torah and was a star pupil. It is important to note that in his formative years, he regularly studied the scripture and his thorough knowledge of it led to his later criticism of the text. Spinoza was heavily influenced by Descartes' views on religion and god.
Descartes provided an ontological argument about the existence of a benevolent god. Using his own existence as an individual, Descartes went on to state that since God has provided him with thought and sensory perception. He can believe in these faculties. Spinoza derives a lot of his philosophy from this premise. A rationalist himself, Spinoza did not deny in the existence of god but instead of attributing this divine presence to a singular form or entity, he argues that God must be a collective sum of the physical and natural laws that govern the universe.
In essence, he claimed that God was linked to everything that forms this universe and that everything is derived from God. Spinoza talks in length about ‘substance', which he claims is that which is independent and does not require co-existence. This philosophy resonates with the ontological ideology which links the existence of man to the existence of god. Spinoza in his Magnum Opus, ‘Ethics' argues against the conventional notion of God as the master creator who does not exist in the same plane as us but is a governing entity. He believes that God is part of the universe and that every being, everything that constitutes this world are god's modes which means that everything shares his essence. He also argues against Descartes' views on the mind and body being two separate substances and states that the body and mind are without dichotomy and exist as ‘Done'.
Spinoza makes parallels between the instinct of self-preservation and desire. He states that an object of man's desire is not because he perceives it to be good, he does not desire it because it's good. It appears good to him because he desires it The same can be sad about bad things or objects. Thus, in the natural order of things, there is no such thing as good or bad. He believes that all desires and aversions stem from pleasure and pain which in turn represent good and bad. In essence, he means to say that it is our impulse to live that drives us and good and evil are merely social constructs.
Spinoza's writings were banned posthumously by ecclesiastical authorities who proclaimed them to be heretic and atheistic although Spinoza never expressed skepticism about the existence of God. Spinoza did not actively challenge the authority of God or the Bible; he merely questioned it using his own faculties of thought and reason. His work influenced a lot of modern thinkers and writers including formidable philosophers like Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, thus forming the basis for modern thought and philosophy.