I enjoy choosing odd looking books at used book stores. This one caught my attention because of the description on the back cover. It is a fictional account of the life of Spinoza, a 17th century philosopher written based on the known facts and accounts of his life. His story is told from the point of view a a school friend who reflects back on their friendship while at the same time unveiling the evolution of his philosophy.
With philosophy being obscure and difficult to read for me, especially in the original texts.this story spiked an interest to research more about Spinoza and his influence.
There are several places in the story where his thinking is described through the interactions of the characters.
"...you form judgements by applying reason. You don't allow handed down dogma, 'accepted wisdom' nor other people's opinions to dictate what you should believe. The only truth you accept is the truth you arrive at yourself. To me, this is the very definition of philosophy: seeking knowledge through reason".
"Love is nothing else than the enjoyment of a thing and the union with it. Some of these things are transient, others eternal and imperishable. The greatest love of all is the love of God."
"You will not have a problem [with not showing gratitude to someone] as long as they understand that they made you happy. Be aware that those who nevertheless expect gratitude are not concerned with your happiness. Their aim is rather to have you indebted and get you under their power. In this case, you are better off not accepting the gift in the first place."
[asking him on his death bed if people will read his books] "Do you really think that in three centuries...people will understand that God and Nature are the same? And that all that happens is determined? Will they agree that scripture cannot be taken literally; that revelation, prophecy and miracles are merely symbolic and never actually happened?"
A challenging and thought-provoking read.
Published: 2014 Read: January 2016 Genre: Fiction, philosophy