Few issues in the history of early modern philosophy have recently drawn as much attention as Spinoza’s role in the European Enlightenment. Jonathan Israel’s attempts to situate Spinoza at the heart of the Radical Enlightenment, which according to Israel took the lead in the major debates defining the Enlightenment as such, have been hailed as a decisive breakthrough, but they have also become the target of increasingly critical reviews.1 This paper does not seek to address the fate of Spinoza’s works during the eighteenth century. Instead, it attempts to chart the way in which, almost immediately after Spinoza’s death in 1677, a highly specific life of the Dutch philosopher was produced and how this contributed to the rediscovery of Spinoza by the end of the eighteenth century as a serious philosopher and, in the Netherlands, as a proper Dutchman. In this paper, it will be argued first that it was only after agreement had been reached that Spinoza had lived a life becoming to a genuine philosopher that his work came to be included in the canon of the history of philosophy, and second that it was largely due to Pierre Bayle’s intervention that in the course of the eighteenth century Spinoza’s life could come to the rescue of his works.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1353/jhi.2017.0011, hdl.handle.net/1765/98753
Journal Journal of the History of Ideas
Note An earlier version of this paper was read on April 14, 2014, at the Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erförschung der Aufklarung at Halle
Citation
van Bunge, L. (2017). Spinoza’s Life: 1677–1802. Journal of the History of Ideas, 78(2), 211–231. doi:10.1353/jhi.2017.0011