Spinoza ethics and neo-Spinozism
When a renowned 17th-century philosopher, also described as a genius, questions the existence of God and makes comparisons with nature, it is certainly worth investigating. Baruch Spinoza, born within Amsterdam's Jewish community in 1632, should have become one of the country's top rabbis. He received an intensely traditional Jewish education and he went to the local Jewish school. He had a gift and big things were expected from him. But the questions the system and also ruffled a few traditional feathers with his unorthodox views which led to his teachers denouncing him. His people were not exactly excited about with his statements that explicitly doubted the religious studies, scriptures, and his attacks on the power of the church. By 1656, still in his early twenties, the Jewish Community Council excommunicated him.
Shunned by his people the undeterred Spinoza remained on the fringes of Amsterdam and focused on his philosophy with incredibly detailed writings explaining his take on religion. His philosophy included virtually all aspects of rational dialogue which included existence philosophies, philosophies related to nature, philosophies related to politics, of course, philosophies related to ethics which he is so famous for, plus philosophies of science and the mind. He gained an ever-lasting standing as one of the seventeenth centuries most renowned innovative speakers. He also came up with his famous ethics which have been debated time and time again.
Spinoza wrote his epic ethics during 1664 and 1665 and they were published in 1677 just after he died. He talks, a lot, about substance plus finite and infinite characteristics and how they are perceived. He wrote his ethics. He knew he did. Plus there were people around him who noticed him writing so they knew he existed. You are reading this so you exist. Spinoza seemed to put God and Nature in the same category which could be a way to question the existence of God and if God ever existed. We know that nature does not exist. It is a thing, a word, to describe something.
Neo Spinozism takes a look at the perception of God in another way related to individuals' connections with God on a more intimate level. Obviously, there are different levels depending on a persons' standing. Those who regularly attend church, and use prayer as part of their daily routine, have a bigger connection which could be put down to experiences that are real and not extensions of thoughts.
For Spinoza, it seems that it is that individual connection that appears to be the stumbling block. He disputed that all things could be a by-product of God. Spinoza, who had ideas about reinventing religion, had to contend with his books being banned by the church. Controversial as he was meant that Spinoza remained ostracized from his community for the rest of his life which, as we mentioned, he spent on the fringes of Amsterdam, before he moved and settled in The Hague until he died at the age of forty-four. To this day is status has not been rescinded.