Isidore Singer.

The Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 11) online

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Sources : ample of the geometrical method. The
Descartes, conception of God as the Supreme Be-
ing and as substance is common to all
medieval philosophy, Spinoza's originality consist-
ing in recognizing extension as one of His attributes :
this, it will be remembered, was one of the test ques-
tions which led to his excommunication. Here he is
approached very nearly by tlie views of Hasdai Cres-
cas, who in his "/Or Adonai " (I. ii. 1) points to the
use of the word' " makom " (locality) for the Deity,
and concludes that "as the dimensions of the vac-
uum are included in the dimensions of the corporeal
and its contents, so is God in all parts of the world.
He is their place that supports and holds them."
Crescas goes on to disprove the Aristotelian claim
that an infinite material magnitude is impossible.
Spinoza was without doubt acqiiainted with Cres-
cas' writings, as he quotes him under the name of
" Rab Gasdai" iu his twenty-ninth letter (ed. Bruder).
On the other hand, the doctrine of the parallelism
of thought and extension is original with Spinoza,
and is due to his desire to evade the difficulties of
the Cartesian doctrine. At first sight the importance
given to the attributes in Spinoza's system would
seem to affiliate him with the whole line of Jewish
thought which was centered around the doctrine
of the attributes (see D. Kaufmann, "Qesch. der
Attributenlehre," Berlin, 1877; and Attributes).
In reality Spinoza uses the term "attributes" in a
slightly different signification, calling the "attri-
butes" of the Jewish philosophers " properties," and

using the distinction first made by Crescas (" Or
Adonai," I. iii. 3), who, for example, regarded God's
perfection and infinity as His properties rather than
His attributes (see Joel, "Don Chisdai Creskas,"
pp. 19 et seq., Breslau, 1866).

At the same time, the modes as parts of attri-
butes seem to be derived from Bruno, who also makes
the distinction between natura natu-
Giordano rans and natura naturata. Bruno re-
Bruno, gards all nature as animated — a close
approach to Spinoza's parallelism of
the attributes. On the other hand, Bruno may have
taken this notion from some of the cabalists, and in
arguing that God is the immanent and not the tran-
sient cause of the universe, Spinoza himself claims
that he agrees with the Hebrew masters, so far as he
couid conjecture from certain adulterated views
(" Epistola^," Ixxiii.). The plan of the universe, as in-
dicated above, though this is not given by Spinoza
himself, resembles in large measure that of the Sefi-
rot, and suggests that, much as he derided them,
Spinoza obtained much general suggestion from the
cabalists. He even appears to quote, in the "Eth-
ics " (II. vii., note), Moses Cordovero on the identity
of the thinker, thought, and the object thought of;
this, however, is a general Aristotelian principle (see
Jew. Encyc. x. 370, s.v. Remak). In Spinoza's
view the doctrine of immanence bears a remark-
able resemblance to that of emanation.

With regard to Spinoza's psychology and ethics,
the idea of the conatus and even tlie term "conato
de conservarsi " itself are derived from or influ-
enced by Bruno. The doctrine of the emotions is
partly influenced by Hobbes, but is mainly a de-
velopment of and improvement on Descartes. On
the other hand, the connection of the conatus with
the divine activity may have been influenced by
Crescas' view that the creation and conservation of
the world imply the same activity of God (comp.
Spinoza, "Cogitata Metaphysica," II. x. 6). The
view of Spinoza with regard to the relativity of
good and evil may possibly be derived from Mai-
monides' conception of them as belonging to the
region of probable opinion ("Moreh," i. 11).

The determinism of Spinoza was certainly derived
from that of Crescas, who explains the difficulty of
rewards and punishments from the
Hasdai same stjindpoint ("Or Adonai," II. v.
Crescas. 2) and on the same lines as Spinoza
("Cogitata Metaphysica," II. ix. 4),
though it must be observed that Spinoza when he
wrote the " Cogitata Metaphysica " was nominally at
least a libertarian. So, too, in his denial of final
causes Spinoza agrees with Crescas {I.e. II. vi. 1);
therefore Spinoza may have obtained from Crescas,
who identifies the divine will and understanding
{I.e. III. i. 5), also the doctrine that the will and the
understanding are the same faculty of the mind. The
insistence of Spinoza upon the love of God as the
highest quality of human reason is undoubtedly in-
fluenced by Crescas' original view that love rather
than knowledge was the divine essence {ib.). The
view, however, that the terms " wisdom " and " will "
as applied to the Divine Being are not identical, but
are merely homonymous, with the same terms as ap-
plied to man, is derived from Mairaonides (" Moreh,"




i. 52 et seq.). In speaking of the "intellectual love
of God," Jol>l Remarks, Spinoza took the " love " from
Ciescas, the " intellect " from Maimouides. Finally,
the somewhat mystical views as to the eternity of
the intellectual love, Sir Frederick Pollock sug-
gests, were derived from the Averroism of Ger-
sonides, who considered that contemplative knowl-
edge was the only proper function of the eternal
mind, and, therefore, that tlie individual soul was
immortal as regards the knowledge possessed by it
at the time of death, though, being then deprived of
an organism, it could not in any way extend it after

Baruch Spinoza.

(From a statue by Maj-k Antokolskl.)

death (see Pollock, "Spinoza, His Life and Philos-
ophy," 2d ed., pp. 270-271, London, 1899). With
regard to his views on eternity, and his remarkable
conception that truth must be viewed "sub specie
eternitatis," it is worthy of remark that Spinoza in
the "Cogitata Metapliysica " (H. x. 5) adopts the
view of Maimonides that Creation did not arise in
time, but time in Creation ("Moreh," II. ii. 13). It
should perhaps be added that besides these specific
instances of Spinoza is characteristic-
ally Jewish in two main aspects of his thought: the
stress laid upon knowledge as an ideal (though this
is common to all the Aristotelian schools), and his
conception of cheerfulness as one of the highest
virtues (see Joy).

It has been suggested by Jol'l that the development
of Spinoza"s thought was somewhat as follows: His
early training was entirely from Jewish philoso-
phers, but he was withdrawn from them by the at-
traction of Descartes, who freed his mind from the
principle of authority in philosophy, and, as it ap-
pears, in religion ; but he was never a pure Carte-
sian, not even when he wrote his account of the
hllosophy of Descartes, and he came back to the

Jewish philosophers to solve the conflicting elements
of Descartes' thought, with the important difference,
however, that he did not attempt to reconcile the
conclusions to which they led liim with the state-
ments of Scripture. His thought is thus Jewish,
cast in a Cartesian mold, the chief difference being
with regard to the authority of Scripture, and it is,
accordingly, in his "Tractatus Theologico-Politi-
cus"4,hat his views are found opposed to
Jewish views.

Spinoza's arguments in the "Tractatus Theo-
logico-Politicus " are almost throughout connected
either by way of agreement or opposition with those
of Maimonides on the same topics. One of the main
objects of the book is to show the contradictory na-
ture of statements in the Scriptures, and Spinoza

speaks with contempt of the efforts

" Tractatus of the Rabbis to reconcile them. He

Theo- is no doubt here referring to the most

logico- important work of his teacher Manas-

Politicus." SEH B. Israel, the "Conciliador." In

his chapter on prophecy Spinoza dif-
fers from ^faimonides in regarding the work of a
prophet as being due almost entirely to imagination,
which can not, like reason, give rise to truth. Spi-
noza does an injustice in stating that Maimonides
regards angels as existing only in dreams, which
was partly due to a misreading in the edition of
Maimonides used by him ; this again is one of the
test questions leading to his excommunication. The
criterion of a true revelation selected by Spinoza —
the vividness of the prophetic vision — is that used
by Crescas ("Or Adonai, " II. iv. 3), and both think-
ers used the same example, that of Hananiah. Spi-
noza's view of the selection o£ the Israelites, that
they exceeded other nations neither in learning nor
in piety, but in political and social salvation, places
him in opposition to both Maimonides and Crescas.
He liere attributes the preservation of the Jews to
their rites (" Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, " iii. 53),
but sees no reason why they sliould not once again
become an independent nation {ib. iii. 55). In his
discussion of ceremonies Spinoza declares that they
are no longer binding on Jews or others, and were
put into force only through the influence of the Rab-
bis and other ecclesiastical autliorities. In opposing
belief in miracles, as he docs in the sixth chapter of
the "Tractatus," Spinoza has in mind the examples
and arguments of both Maimonides and Gersonides;
in the remaining part Spinoza outlines what was
later known as the "higher criticism," and antici-
pates in a somewhat remarkable manner some of the
results of the school of Kuenen and Wellhausen,
declaring, for example, that the Law was intro-
duced, if not written, by Ezra. Many of the exam-
ples of inconsistency in the Pentateuch here cited
were those familiar to Spinoza from Abraham ibn
Ezra (see Pentateuch). Spinoza throughout ar-
gued against the connection of creed with citi-
zenship, claiming liberty of thought, and to that
extent pleading the of his own people; but iu
reality the book is an expansion in Latin of his for-
mer apologia written in Spanish for withdrawing
from Jewish communion, and is opposed to ecclesi-
asticismof all kinds. Hence the violence of the oppo-
sition which it found in the age of ecclesiasticism.




With regard to Spinoza's intlueuco, one must dis-
tinguish between the effect of his views and life
upon the general progress of free thouglit in Europe,
and that of his special doctrines. The former first
drew dowu upon him the execration of all the eccle-
siastics and aiithoritarians whom he
Influence, had opposed by his views, and the re-
spect of a few freethinkers like Bayle,
Edelmann, Goethe, Shelley, and Byron, who pro-
posed to translate tlie "Ethics" jointly, and Marian
Evans (George Eliot), who actually produced a trans-
lation, which, however, was never published. The
spread of his special views began with the small cir-
cle of disciples which surrounded him at Amsterdam,
and to which the world is probably indebted for the
Latin translation of liis "Ethics." Tlie ciuef of
these were B. Becker and Louis Meyer ; but the pub-
lication of his works in Dutch liad a considerable
influence on Dutch theology in the persons of Fre-
drick van Leenhoff (1647-1712), Willielm Deurhoff
(1850-1717), and especially Poutiaan van Hattem
(1641-1706), who created quite a school, of which
Jacob Brill (1639-1700) was, after Hattem, the chief
representative (see A. van der Linde, "Spinoza,
Seine Lehre und Deren Erste Nachwirkungen in
Holland," GOttingen, 1862).

But the principal person upon whom Spinoza's
thought and personality had a decisive effect was
Leibnitz (1646-1716), whose system of philosophy,
as developed by Wolff, dominated
Spinoza the continent of Europe throughout
and the whole of the eighteenth century

Ijeibnitz. up to Kant, and whose views, de-
veloped by Herbart and Lotze, have
again come to the fore in recent times. Those of
Leibnitz's works that have been published give
little evidence of any connection with Spinoza other
than in the latter's calling as optician, and his pub-
lic utterances on Spinozism were in every case hos-
tile and derogatory ; but more recent evidence shows
that during the critical period of his development,
from 1676 to 1686, he took a more favorable attitude
toward both Spinoza and Spinozism, and tliis has
been traced to an intimate personal association of
the two philosophers during a whole month in 1676,
not long before Spinoza's death. It was during this
period that Leibnitz developed from a pure Carte-
sian into an opponent of Descartes, chiefly as regards
the definition of body and the principles of motion,
both of which subjects it is known that Leibnitz
discussed with Spinoza. On reading the "Opera
Posthuma," Leibnitz declared that the absence of
teleology was the only thing with which he did not
agree. When, however, a strong outcry broke out
against Spinoza's "atheism, "Leibnitz devoted him-
self to finding an escape from Spinozism, and it
took him nearly ten years before he arrived at his
theory of the monads, which he declared to be the
only solution of the difficulty (see L. Stein, "Leib-
niz und Spinoza," Berlin, 1890). The most recent
investigator of the philosophy of Leibnitz declares
that in his views on soul and body, on God and
ethics, he "tends with slight alterations of phrase-
ology to adopt (without acknowledgment) the views
of the derided Spinoza" (B. Russell, "Philosophy
of Leibniz," p. 5, Cambridge, 1900).

This opposition of Leibnitz practically ruined any
chance of influence by Spinoza on the Germany of
the early part of the eighteenth century, where
the philosophy of the former and his follower Wolff
was all-powerful. A revival of inter-
Mendels- est, however, was brought about by
sohn Jacobi's declaration that Lessing was
and Jacobi. a professed Spinozistand had declared
that " there is but one philosophy, the
philosophy of Spinoza." Mendelssohn, who in phi-
losopliy was a Wolftian, devoted some of his " Mor-
genstunden " to defending the memory of his friend
Lessing from what he considered to be an asper-
sion, and this again tended to discourage any active
adherence to Spinoza in Germany. Kant, by ma-
king the problem of metaphy.sics how man knows
instead of what he knows, changed the course
of metaphysical thought for a time; but renewed
attention was drawn to Spinoza by his followers,
Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, the last-named of whom
declared that to be a philosopher one must first be a
Spinozist. Schleiermacher expressed himself in the
highest terms of Spinoza, and Novalis called the so-
called "atheist" a "God- intoxicated Jew." This
revival of interest in Spinoza was due possibly
to the influence of Herder and Goethe, who had
both given utterance to great admiration for Spi-
noza's life and thought. The wide influence of
Goethe, whose philosophical views were entirely
Spinozistic and were expressed in some of the pro-
foundest of his poems, was perhaps the chief influ-
ence which drew to Spinoza the attention of such
men as Coleridge, Auerbach, Matthew Arnold,
Froude, and Renan.

It was mainly the spread and influence of science
in its more dogmatic aspects that, toward the end
of tlie nineteenth century, caused especial interest to
be taken in Spinoza's thought. By a
Science sort of instinct Spinoza seems to have
and anticipated, by deductions from first

Spinozism. principles, many of the most funda-
mental principles of modern science;
e.g., the conservation of energy (in his belief that the
total quantity of motion in the universe is constant) ;
the nonexistence of a vacuum ; and the existence of
nothing real in the universe but configurations and
motions (expressly stated in the "Ethics" I., Ap-
pendix). Even the infinity of attributes, which
occupy such an otiose position in Spinoza's system,
may be regarded as a premonition of the recognition
by modern mathematicians of the infinity of non-
Euclidean spaces. Especially as regards the connec-
tion of body and mind the Spinozistic view of paral-
lelism has been growing in favor among psyciiolo-
gists, though just at present there is somewhat of a
reaction against it. The positing of the conatus as
the central force of mind is in full agreement with
the most recent insistence upon conation as the key to
mental activities, wliile the tendency of the conatus
to maintain things pleasant seems to be an anticipa-
tion of Bain's law of conservation. The conatus has
been regarded as anticipating even the theory of
evolution, but this is due to mistaking the statical
nature of Spinoza's thouglit. Nevertheless, the two
great exponents of philosophical evolution Herbert
Spencer and Haeckel have adopted many, if not




most, of Spinoza's views, which have thus become
representative of science as opposed to religion.
Meanwhile there has been a recent tendency to re-
sort once more to Leibnitz for a defense of the faith,
as shown in the Gifford lectures of Professors Ward
and Koyce, so that at the present day, at any rate in
the English-speaking world, the problem of philos-
ophy is once more resolved into the opposition of
Spinoza and Leibnitz. Thus, of the chief contem-
porary English philosophers, F. II. Bradley, with
his follower A. E. Taylor, may be regarded as
representing Spinoza, while G. E. Moore and his
disciple B. Russell are adherents of the school of

With his excommunication all communion be-
tween Spinoza and his own people ceased, and
among Jews little notice was taken of his thought
for nearly a century, except by a few philosophical
thinkers, who dealt with his views as they would
with those of other philosophers. Thus David
Nieto was accused before Hakam Zebi in 1705 of
having identified God and nature after the manner
of Spinoza, but defended himself satisfactorily by
distinguishing between the individual

Position things of nature and nature in gen-

Among' eral ; in other words, between natura
Jews. naturans and natura naturata. Men-
delssohn, as before mentioned, was,
owing to his Leibnitzian tendencies, strongly op-
posed to Spinoza as a philosopher, but made use in
his " Jerusalem " of some of the arguments of the
"Tractatus." Solomon Maimon, like Wachter be-
fore him and A. Krochmal after him, tried to prove
the identity of Spinozism and cabalism (see Kroch-
mal's "Eben ha-Roshah," Vienna, 1871). Heine ac-
cords the life of Spinoza respectful treatment, but
does not appear to have made any particular study
of his thought. On the other hand, Berthold Auer-
bach did much to spread the knowledge of Spino-
zism in Germany by his excellent translation of the
works as well as by his novelistic account of the
career of the philosopher ("'Spinoza, ein Denkerle-
ben," Leipsic, 1847j. M. Joel has contributed more,
perhaps, than any other investigator to the study of
the sources from which Spinoza derived his main
conceptions. L. Stein has elucidated the relations
of Spinoza and Leibnitz, while M. Griinwald has
traced Spinoza's influence in Germany, and I. Elbo-
gen has made a study of the " De Intellectus Emen-
datione." One of the best recent monographs on the
philosopher is that of L. Brunsclivicg, and the best
account of the "Ethics" in English is by H. H. Jo-
achim. Jacob Freudenthal's work on his life and
his system of thought is the result of a life's work
on the subject. Altogether, it may be said that Spi-
noza has at last come to his own among his own

But it would be misleading to regard Spinoza
as specifically or characteristically Jewish in his
thought. His antagonistic attitude toward the au-
thority of the Scriptures differentiates him from
all thinkers recognized to be Jewish, and S. D.
LuzzATTO was, after all, in the right in protesting
violently against regarding the philosophy of Spi-
noza as especially Jewish while in such opposition
to the Judaism of the Rabbis and the mass of the

Jews. Whether any reconciliation can be made be-
tween Spinozism and Judaism on the higher plane
of philosophic thought is another question, to
which S. Rubin has devoted his life. In any case,
Spinoza's thought is so definitely connected either
by derivation or by opposition with that of the Jew-
ish medieval thinkers that it must be regarded either
as the consummation or as the evisceration of Jewish

Bibliography : A whole literature has collected around the
name of Spinoza and is summed up in A. van der Linde,
Benedictus Spinoza. The Hague, 1871, which contains 441
entries. This may be supplemented by the bibliography given
in M. Griinwald, SpitiDza in DeutscMand, pp. 361-3t0, Ber-
lin, 1897, containing 226 entries of the literature between 1870
and 1897. The chief editions of the works have been referred
to above, but it may be added that a portfolio of facsimiles of
the recently recovered letters of Spinoza was published in
Leyden in 1904. The standard life of Spinoza is that of Jacob
Freudenthal, Spinoza, Sein Lehen und Seine Lehre, Stutt-
gart, 19(t4. founded on a collection of sources (including the
contemporary life by Colerus) issued by the same author un-
der the title Lebemfgenchichte Sj;i)i02O\v, Berlin, 1899. Spi-
noza's relations to his Dutch contemporaries are best given in
Meinsma, Spinoza en Zijn Kring, The Hague, 1896. The best
accounts of Spinoza's system are those of Camerer, Die
Lehre Spinoza's, Stuttgart, 1877 ; James Martineau, A Study
of Spinoza, 3d ed., London, 1895; and Sir Frederick Pollock,
Spinoza, His Life and Philosopliy, 2d ed., London, 1899.
Though written from a hostile standpoint, partly based upon
Trendelenburg, Hi.s^irijsc^e Beiiriige zur Phihwiphie, Ber-
lin, 1867. Mariineau's study Is by far the clearest with rela-
tion to Spinoza's 6yst«?m. Studies of the "Ethics " have been
written by Klrschmann, 2d ed., Berlin, 1871 (with notes on
the other works), and by H. H. Joachim, Oxford, 1901. The
literature which followed the discovery of the Korte Ver-
handcUug is summarized by Van der Linde, Nos. 342-353:
noteworthy Is the study by Avenarius, Ueber die Beiden Er-
sten Phosen des Spinozischen Pantheismus, Leipsic, 1808. A.
Chajes has written Ueber die Hebriiische Grammatik Spi-
7ioza's, Breslau, 1869, and C. Siegfried, Spinoza ais Kritiker
und Ausleger des Alt en Testaments, Berlin, 1867. On the
relation of Spinoza to his Jewish predecessors see Joel, Bei-
trdge zur Geschichte der Philosophie, Breslau, 1876, and
J. Jacobs, Jewish Ideals, pp. 49-56. Rubin, in his Teshubah
Nizza},iat, Vienna, 1857, discussed Luzzatto's attacks on Spi-
noza. The latest histories of Jewish philosophy as a matter of
course contain sections on Spinoza; e.g., J. S. Spiegler. Gesch.
der Philosophie des Judenthnms. xli.-xliii. Berlin, 1900; and
S. Bemfeld, Da'at Eiohim, pp. 521-530, Wilna, 1898.

SPIRA (SPIBO) : Family of scholars and rab-
bis of Speyer, Rhenish Bavaria, with numerous
branches in other parts of Germany, and in Bohemia,
Galicia, and Poland. It originally bore the name
" Ashkenazi," to distinguish it from the Kahaue or
Katz-Spira family. Many prominent families of
Bohemia added to their names that of "Spiro"or
"Spira"; e.g., Frankl-Spiro, Wiener-Spiro, and

1. Aaron Jehiel Michel Spira: Son of Ben-
jamin Wolf Spira (No. 7) and grandson of Jehiel
Spira ; rabbi of the Meisel Synagogue, Prague.

Bibliography: Landshuth, 'Ammude ha-'Abodah, p. 12;
Zunz, Literaturgesch.p.iyS; Podiebrad-Foges, ^ifert/iUmer
der Pragcr Judenstadt, pp. 76, 149, Prague, 1870.

2. Aaron Simeon Spira : Sonof Benjamin Wolf
Spira (who died in 1630); rabbi at Frankfort, Lem-
berg, Brez in Litliuauia, Lublin, Cracow, Vienna,
Prague (1640), and also rabbi of Bohemia ; born 1599 ;
died Dec. 3, 1679, at Prague. He led an ascetic life,
and collected many pupils about him. He wrote
" Moreh Yehezkiel Katon " (Prague, 1695), penitential
prayers ("selihot") on the sufferings of the Jewish
community of Prague when that city was besieged
by the Swedes in 1648.

3. Aryeh Lob Spira (called also Klein Lob) :
Son of Isaac Spira; born 1701; died May 19, 1761,
at Wilna, where he was associate rabbi. At the age


^^^^ _^ l-Ww-T"^




3 ^.^—r,^

.*vvQ» er«»(— v,*>^





Holograph Letter of Baruch Spinoza, Dated 1665.

(From Van VIoten and Land, " BeDedictI De Spinoza Opera.")




of seventeen he corresponded witli the rabbi of the
Karaites at Troki. Aryeli Lob acquired a knowl-
edge of mathematics and Hebrew grammar. He
wrote "Naiialat Ariel " and "Me'on 'Arayot " (Dy-

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