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Spinoza and Other Heretics, Volume 1: The Marrano of Reason

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

Through the marrano ideology Yovel found the sources of Spinoza's influential philosophical system.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
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 origin of Spinoza's heterodoxy in the Marranos, from whom he was descended. The Marranos were Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity under compulsion but secretly continued to practice Judaism. The conflicting pressures of following two religions sometimes led to a total collapse of faith, and Yovel describes in a masterly way a tradition of Marrano skepticism. He also illuminates Spinoza's influence on later thinkers. He does not completely clarify the meaning of ``immanence'' and also assumes without much argument that the immanentist position is correct. Nevertheless, this is clearly a work of major significance.-- David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ. , Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691020785
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Note on Sources xiii
Chapter 1. Prologue: Heretic and Banned 3
Chapter 2. Spinoza, the Marrano of Reason 15
Chapter 3. The Split Mind: New Jews in Amsterdam 40
Chapter 4. Marranos in Mask and a World without Transcendence: Rojas and La Celestina 85
Chapter 5. Spinoza, the Multitude, and Dual Language 128
Chapter 6. Knowledge as Alternative Salvation 153
Chapter 7. Epilogue: Spinoza and His People: The First Secular Jew? 172
Afterword 205
Notes 209
Index 241
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