Too Little, Too Late
Why we should see Franciscus van den Enden as a follow-up of Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy instead of the mastermind behind Benedictus de Spinoza
Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy , Volume 11 p. 16- 25
Historian and Spinoza-specialist Koenraad Oege Meinsma once argued: if you are neither burning down cities and churches during your lifetime, nor building statues for yourself, nor signing thousands of papers, it could happen that after a while, despite all your achievements, you enter the shadows of the caverns of history (Meinsma 1896, 125). In such cases, like in the case of Spinoza’s Latin teacher Franciscus van den Enden, there is fruitful ground for the most glorious rumors. For example, some suggested that Van den Enden played a role in the diplomatic settlement between the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Empire in the period 1645 – 1648 (Meinsma 1896, 128 – 129). Others claimed that Van den Enden was offered a chair as professor at the age of eighteen, still being a student (Meinsma 1896, 126). It has also been suggested that he rejected an offer to become an employee at the court of the Hungarian King (Meininger & van Suchtelen 1980, 13). In addition, the Dutch expert on seventeenth century philosophy Wim Klever claimed that Van den Enden was ‘the hidden agent behind Spinoza’s genius’ (Klever 1991, 631). He argued that Van den Enden had a major influence on the young Spinoza. This influence is twofold. According to Klever, Van den Enden had a mediating role between the philosophy of René Descartes and Spinoza and Van den Enden convinced Spinoza of his own political views (Klever 1991, 617; 631). In this paper, I will first give a short biography of Franciscus van den Enden and try to shine a different light on who he actually was. Second, I will outline the claim of Wim Klever that Van den Enden was the ‘hidden agent’ behind Spinozism. Third, I will attempt to counter this argument. This will be based on the facts that there is too little evidence and that the political awakening of Van den Enden came too late to back up the claim of Klever. Fourth, I will give also a short biography of the political idealist Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy and I will argue that it is more fruitful to see Van den Enden as a successor of this contemporary, if we want to get a better understanding of what Van den Enden actually tried to accomplish in his two books. In that paragraph I will show that the political awaking of Van den Enden came after he met Plockhoy in 1661 and not before met Spinoza in 1655. Finally, I will close with the conclusion that Van den Enden was most likely triggered by Plockhoy to develop a political career that would eventually end at the gallows.
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|Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy|
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Lokker, E. (2016). Too Little, Too Late. Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy, 11, 16–25. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/124770