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Benedictus ‘Baruch’ Spinoza


Baruch Spinoza, born Benedito Espinosa was a Dutch Philosopher and the founder of Spinozism. Spinoza focused on Ethics, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Hebrew Grammar.

 

Inspirational Quotes by Baruch Spinoza about Life, Philosophy & Religion

1665 Portrait of Spinoza

“Of a commonwealth, whose subjects are but hindered by terror from taking arms, it should rather be said, that it is free from war, than that it has peace. For peace is not mere absence of war, but is a virtue that springs from force of character : for obedience is the constant will to execute what, by the general decree of the commonwealth, ought to be done. Besides, that commonwealth, whose peace depends on the sluggishness of its subjects, that are led about like sheep, to learn but slavery, may more properly be called a desert than a commonwealth.”

– Baruch Spinoza

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Quotes about Baruch Spinoza


“How much do I love that noble man

More than I could tell with words

I fear though he’ll remain alone

With a holy halo of his own.”

 – Albert Einstein


“Of all heroes, Spinoza was Einstein’s greatest. No one expressed more strongly than he a belief in the harmony, the beauty, and, most of all, the ultimate comprehensibility of nature.”

– John Archibald Wheeler, as quoted in Albert Einstein in Biographical Memoirs Vol. 51, by the National Academy of Sciences


“Men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.”

– Albert Einstein


“Thought must begin by placing itself at the standpoint of Spinozism ; to be a follower of Spinoza is the essential commencement of all Philosophy.”

 – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


“I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! … Even though the divergences are admittedly tremendous, they are due more to the difference in time, culture, and science.”

 – Friedrich Nietzsche


“The truest vision ever had of God came, perhaps, here.”

– Ernest Renan


“The noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers. Intellectually, some others have surpassed him, but ethically he is supreme.”

 – Bertrand Russell


“Bruno and Spinoza … Each stands by himself and alone ; and they do not belong either to their age or to their part of the globe, which rewarded the one with death, and the other with persecution and ignominy. … The banks of the Ganges were their spiritual home ; there, they would have led a peaceful and honoured life among men of like mind.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer


“Time carries him as the river carries

A leaf in the downstream water.

No matter. The enchanted one insists

And shapes God with delicate geometry.

Since his illness, since his birth,

He goes on constructing God with the word.

The mightiest love was granted him

Love that does not expect to be loved.”

– “Baruch Spinoza” by Jorge Luis Borges, as translated in Spinoza and Other Heretics: The Marrano of Reason (1989) by Yirmiyahu Yovel

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Baruch Spinoza Quotes about Life & Nature



Spinoza quotes about Life & Nature

Monument of Spinoza in Amsterdam

“How would it be possible, if salvation were ready to our hand, and could without great labour be found, that it should be by almost all men neglected? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”

– Baruch Spinoza,  Ethics


“In the state of nature, wrong-doing is impossible ; or, if anyone does wrong, it is to himself, not to another. For no one by the law of nature is bound to please another, unless he chooses, nor to hold anything to be good or evil, but what he himself, according to his own temperament, pronounces to be so ; and, to speak generally, nothing is forbidden by the law of nature, except what is beyond everyone’s power.”

– Baruch Spinoza,  Political Treatise


“Nature offers nothing that can be called this man’s rather than another’s ; but, under nature, everything belongs to all — that is, they have authority to claim it for themselves. But, under dominion, where it is by common law determined what belongs to this man, and what to that, he is called just who has a constant will to render to every man his own, but he, unjust who strives, on the contrary, to make his own that which belongs to another.”

– Baruch Spinoza,  Political Treatise


“The ordinary surroundings of life which are esteemed by men (as their actions testify) to be the highest good, may be classed under the three heads — Riches, Fame, and the Pleasures of Sense: with these three the mind is so absorbed that it has little power to reflect on any different good.”

– Baruch Spinoza, On the Improvement of the Understanding


“Nature is satisfied with little; and if she is, I am also.”

– Baruch Spinoza, The Story of Philosophy (1933) by Will Durant

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Baruch Spinoza Quotes about Philosophy & Truth



Spinoza Quotes about Philosophy

Spinoza studying (Dutch philospher, 1632-1677). — Image by Bettmann/CORBIS

“Philosophers conceive of the passions which harass us as vices into which men fall by their own fault.”

– Baruch Spinoza, as quoted in Political Treatise


“The briefness of a letter and want of time do not allow me to enter into my opinion on the divine nature, or the questions you have propounded. Besides, suggesting difficulties is not the same as producing reasons. That we do many things in the world from conjecture is true, but that our redactions are based on conjecture is false. In practical life we are compelled to follow what is most probable ; in speculative thought we are compelled to follow truth. A man would perish of hunger and thirst, if he refused to eat or drink, till he had obtained positive proof that food and drink would be good for him. But in philosophic reflection this is not so. On the contrary, we must take care not to admit as true anything, which is only probable. For when one falsity has been let in, infinite others follow.”

– Baruch Spinoza


Of all the things that are beyond my power, I value nothing more highly than to be allowed the honor of entering into bonds of friendship with people who sincerely love truth. For, of things beyond our power, I believe there is nothing in the world which we can love with tranquility except such men.

– Baruch Spinoza

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Baruch Spinoza Quotes about Psychology


(1) Men would never be superstitious, if they could govern all their circumstances by set rules, or if they were always favoured by fortune : but being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and being often kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear by the uncertainty of fortune’s greedily coveted favours, they are consequently, for the most part, very prone to credulity.

Baruch Spinoza,  Theological-Political Treatise


(2) The human mind is readily swayed this way or that in times of doubt, especially when hope and fear are struggling for the mastery, though usually it is boastful, over-confident, and vain.

– Baruch Spinoza, as quoted in Theological-Political Treatise


(3) This as a general fact I suppose everyone knows, though few, I believe, know their own nature ; no one can have lived in the world without observing that most people, when in prosperity, are so over-brimming with wisdom (however inexperienced they may be), that they take every offer of advice as a personal insult, whereas in adversity they know not where to turn, but beg and pray for counsel from every passer-by.

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise


(4) No plan is then too futile, too absurd, or too fatuous for their adoption ; the most frivolous causes will raise them to hope, or plunge them into despair — if anything happens during their fright which reminds them of some past good or ill, they think it portends a happy or unhappy issue, and therefore (though it may have proved abortive a hundred times before) style it a lucky or unlucky omen.

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise


(5) Anything which excites their astonishment they believe to be a portent signifying the anger of the gods or of the Supreme Being, and, mistaking superstition for religion, account it impious not to avert the evil with prayer and sacrifice.

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise


(6) Signs and wonders of this sort they conjure up perpetually, till one might think Nature as mad as themselves, they interpret her so fantastically.

– Baruch Spinoza,  Theological-Political Treatise


(7) Thus it is brought prominently before us, that superstition’s chief victims are those persons who greedily covet temporal advantages; they it is, who (especially when they are in danger, and cannot help themselves) are wont with Prayers and womanish tears to implore help from God : upbraiding Reason as blind, because she cannot show a sure path to the shadows they pursue, and rejecting human wisdom as vain ; but believing the phantoms of imagination, dreams, and other childish absurdities, to be the very oracles of Heaven.

– Baruch Spinoza, as quoted in Theological-Political Treatise


(8) As though God had turned away from the wise, and written his decrees, not in the mind of man but in the entrails of beasts, or left them to be proclaimed by the inspiration and instinct of fools, madmen, and birds. Such is the unreason to which terror can drive mankind!

– Baruch Spinoza, as quoted in Theological-Political Treatise


(9) Superstition, then, is engendered, preserved, and fostered by fear.

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise

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Baruch Spinoza Quotes about Religion


“I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul, and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different…”

– Baruch Spinoza


“My opinion concerning God differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by modern Christians. For I hold that God is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient. I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul, and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different ; I will even venture to affirm that I agree with all the ancient Hebrews, in so far as one may judge from their traditions, though these are in many ways corrupted. The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus the unity of God and Nature (meaning by the latter a certain mass or corporeal matter), is wholly erroneous.”

– Baruch Spinoza


“When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is ; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished ; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped.”

“You seem to wish to employ reason, and ask me, “How I know that my philosophy is the best among all that have ever been taught in the world, or are being taught, or ever will be taught?” a question which I might with much greater right ask you ; for I do not presume that I have found the best philosophy, I know that I understand the true philosophy. If you ask in what way I know it, I answer: In the same way as you know that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles: that this is sufficient, will be denied by no one whose brain is sound, and who does not go dreaming of evil spirits inspiring us with false ideas like the true. For the truth is the index of itself and of what is false.”

“But you, who presume that you have at last found the best religion, or rather the best men, on whom you have pinned your credulity, you, “who know that they are the best among all who have taught, do now teach, or shall in future teach other religions. Have you examined all religions, ancient as well as modern, taught here and in India and everywhere throughout the world? And, if you, have duly examined them, how do you know that you have chosen the best” since you can give no reason for the faith that is in you? But you will say, that you acquiesce in the inward testimony of the Spirit of God, while the rest of mankind are ensnared and deceived by the prince of evil spirits. But all those outside the pale of the Romish Church can with equal right proclaim of their own creed what you proclaim of yours.”

“I make this chief distinction between religion and superstition, that the latter is founded on ignorance, the former on knowledge; this, I take it, is the reason why Christians are distinguished from the rest of the world, not by faith, nor by charity, nor by the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, but solely by their opinions, inasmuch as they defend their cause, like everyone else, by miracles, that is by ignorance, which is the source of all malice; thus they turn a faith, which may be true, into superstition.”

– Baruch Spinoza, Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg , November (1675)


“As regards miracles, I am of opinion that the revelation of God can only be established by the wisdom of the doctrine, not by miracles, or in other words by ignorance.”

Baruch Spinoza, Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg , November (1675)


“Prophecy really includes ordinary knowledge; for the knowledge which we acquire by our natural faculties depends on knowledge of God and his eternal laws ; but ordinary knowledge is common to all men as men, and rests on foundations which all share, whereas the multitude always strains after rarities and exceptions, and thinks little of the gifts of nature ; so that, when prophecy is talked of, ordinary knowledge is not supposed to be included.”

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise


“In regard to intellect and true virtue, every nation is on a par with the rest, and God has not in these respects chosen one people rather than another.”

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise


“Men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude … that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits…”

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise

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Baruch Spinoza Quotes about Society & Politics


“If slavery, barbarism and desolation are to be called peace, men can have no worse misfortune.”

– Baruch Spinoza,  Political Treatise


“Variant: All laws which can be violated without doing any one any injury are laughed at. Nay, so far are they from doing anything to control the desires and passions of men, that, on the contrary, they direct and incite men’s thoughts the more toward those very objects, for we always strive toward what is forbidden and desire the things we are not allowed to have. And men of leisure are never deficient in the ingenuity needed to enable them to outwit laws framed to regulate things which cannot be entirely forbidden… He who tries to determine everything by law will foment crime rather than lessen it.”

– Baruch Spinoza, Political Treatise


“Schisms do not originate in a love of truth, which is a source of courtesy and gentleness, but rather in an inordinate desire for supremacy. From all these considerations it is clearer than the Sun at noonday, that the true schismatics are those who condemn other men’s writings, and seditiously stir up the quarrelsome masses against their authors, rather than those authors themselves, who generally write only for the learned, and appeal solely to reason. In fact, the real disturbers of the peace are those who, in a free state, seek to curtail the liberty of judgment which they are unable to tyrannize over.”

— Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise


“He who seeks equality between unequals seeks an absurdity.”

– Baruch Spinoza,  Theological-Political Treatise


“We can conceive of various kinds of democracy. But my intention is not to treat of every kind, but of that only, “wherein all, without exception, who owe allegiance to the laws of the country only, and are further independent and of respectable life, have the right of voting in the supreme council and of filling the offices of the dominion.”

— Baruch Spinoza,  Theological-Political Treatise


“No, the object of government is not to change men from rational beings into beasts or puppets, but to enable them to develop their minds and bodies in security, and to employ their reason unshackled ; neither showing hatred, anger, or deceit, nor watched with the eyes of jealousy and injustice. In fact, the true aim of government is liberty.”

– Baruch Spinoza,  Theological-Political Treatise


“The ultimate aim of government is not to rule, or restrain, by fear, nor to exact obedience, but, contrariwise, to free every man from fear, that he may live in all possible security ; in other words, to strengthen his natural right to exist and work without injury to himself or others.”

– Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise

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