Thursday, August 07, 2008

Feingold, Dena A. "Summer Reading: Acclaimed Novelist Brings Philosopher Spinoza to Life." WISCONSIN JEWISH CHRONICLE (July 2008).

Goldstein, Rebecca. Betraying Spinoza: the Renegade Jew Who Gave us Modernity. New York: Schocken, 2005. The provocative title of the book, Betraying Spinoza, refers to Goldstein’s professed goal of revealing the life of Spinoza as a person — a pursuit that Spinoza himself would have deemed worthless. Spinoza was the ultimate rationalist, who believed that the goal of existence was, in Goldstein’s words, “rational objectivity.” That is, again in Goldstein’s words: “all the accidents of one’s existence, the circumstances into which one was born — including one’s own family history, one’s racial, religious, cultural, sexual or national identity — appear as naught and the lingering emotional attachments to such accidents are only evidence of impartial rationality and obstacles in the way of achieving a life worth living.” And so, in delving into the story of Spinoza’s life and speculating about its meaning and the influences that his Jewish upbringing had on his thinking, Goldstein sees herself as betraying what Spinoza was all about. But, in so doing, she has written a masterful piece. . . . Read the rest of the review here:

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