Before, During and After Spinoza’s Time (Building on Damasio 2003)

February 9, 2007

Before, During and After Spinoza’s Time (Building on Damasio 2003)

Digitage informed by Damasio's Spinoza

Digitage informed by Damasio’s Spinoza

1391. Spanish Jews are forced to convert to Catholicism for the sake of “social and sectarian uniformity.”

1478. Establishment of the Spanish Inquisition, whose primary task is to convict and execute those found “judaizing.”

1492. All practicing Jews in Spain are given the choice to convert or be expelled.

1497. All Portuguese Jews (including Spinoza’s ancestors) are forced to convert. A steady stream of Jewish refugees begins to flow from Portugal.

1543 Death of Copernicus (born 1473), who proposed that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around (Damasio 2003).

1564 Death of Martin Luther (born 1483), who was excommunicated by the Catholic Church in 1521; founded the Lutheran Church (Damasio 2003).

1564 Birth of Galileo Galilee, William Shakespeare, and Christophe Marlowe (Damasio 2003).

1564 Death of John Calvin, who founded Calvinism (the Presbyterian Church today) in 1536 (Damasio 2003).

Luis de Camöes publishes The Lusiad (Damasio 2003).

1588 Birth of Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher who took a clearly materialistic view of the mind. He had a significant influence on Spinoza (Damasio 2003).

1592 Death of Michel de Montaigne (born 1533), whose essays published in 1588 had a significant influence on Spinoza (Damasio 2003).

1593 Christopher Marlowe dies in an accident (Damasio 2003).

1596 Birth of René Descrates (Damasio 2003).

1600 Giordano Bruno burned at the stake for siding with Copernicus and holding pantheistic beliefs (Damasio 2003).

William Shakespeare’s mature Hamlet is performed. The age of questioning begins (Damasio 2003).

1604 Shakespeare’s King Lear is performed (Damasio 2003).

1604 Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning (Damasio 2003).

1604 Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote published (Damasio 2003).

1606 Birth of Rembrandt van Rijn.

. Beginning of the twelve year truce between the United Provinces and Spain, effectively establishing political independence (after nearly a 100 year struggle) for the seven northern provinces as well as their (Protestant) sectarian separation from the (Catholic) southern provinces.

1610 Galileo builds a telescope. His study of the stars leads him to adopt Copernicus’s views on movements of the sun and earth (Damasio 2003).

1616. Death of Shakespeare. He was still revising Hamlet (Damasio 2003).

1616 Cervantes died on the same day as Shakespeare (Damasio 2003).

1618. Defenestration of Prague and beginning of the Thirty Years War.

1619. Batavia, Java is established as headquarters of the Dutch East India Company.

1620. Francis Bacon writes Noveum organum.

1621. Hostilities resume between Spain and the United Provinces.

1622. Probable date Spinoza’s parents arrive at Amsterdam.

Birth of Carel Fabritius (dies 1654) in Midden-Beesmster.

1623. Birth of Blaise Pascal (dies 1662).

1625. Death of Stadholder Maurice of Nassau; he is succeeded by his brother, Frederick Henry who consolidates the authority of the House of Orange. Hugo de Groot (Grotius) (1583-1645) publishes, in exile, De jure belli et pacis.

1626. Birth of Jan Steen (dies 1679) in Leiden.

Founding of New Amsterdam.

1627. Birth of Robert Boyle (dies 1691) in Lismore, Munster.

1628. William Harvey discovers the mechanisms of the human circulatory system.
Descartes completes Regulae ad directionem ingenii.

1629. Descartes moves to Holland.

1629 Birth of Christian Huygens (dies 1695) in The Hague. Huygens was an astronomer and physicist as well as the intellectual peer, correspondent, sometime neighbour adn lens customer of Spinoza (Damasio 2003).

Birth of Gabriel Metsu (dies 1667) in Leiden.

Birth of Pieter de Hooch (dies 1684) in Rotterdam.

1632. Birth of Baruch Spinoza, 24 November (dies 1677), in Amsterdam.

Birth of Anton van Leeuwenhoeck (dies 1723) in Delft.

Birth of Jan Vermeer (dies 1675) in Delft.

1632 Birth of John Locke (dies 1704) in Wrington, Somerset.

Queen Christina (born 1626) ascends the throne of Sweden (five regents govern in her stead).

Inquisitorial denunciation of Galileo.

1632 Rembrandt painted The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp (Damasio 2003).

1634. Alliance of the United Provinces with France against Spain.
Gassendi publishes Apologia de Epicurus.

1633 Galileo is convicted and placed under house arrest (Damasio 2003).

1633 Descartes thinks twice about publishing views on human nature resulting from his research on human anatomy and physiology (Damasio 2003).

1633 William Harvey describes the circulation of blood (Damasio 2003).

1637. Descartes publishes Discours de la Methode.

1638. Manasseh ben Israel is appointed to the Amsterdam Yeshiva.

1638 Birth of Louis XIV, who eventually reigns until 1715 (Damasio 2003).

1639. Admiral Tromp, leading the Dutch navy, defeats the Spanish fleet at Dunes.

1640. Uriel d’Acosta commits suicide. He was a Portuguese philosopher of Jewish origin, raised as a Catholic and later convicted to Judaism, is first excommunicated and then reintegrated but physically punished by the Portuguese Synogogue in Amsterdam. He committed suicide shortly thereafter but not before finishing his book, Exemplar Vitae Humanae.

Death of Rubens (born 1577) in Antwerp.

1641. Descartes publishes Meditationes de prima philosophia.

1642. Hobbes publishes De cive.

Death of Galileo (born 1564).

Birth of Issac Newton (dies 1727).

Rembrandt paints The Night Watch.

1644. Descartes publishes Principia philosophiae.

Publication of Dutch translation of Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia.

Queen Christina begins her de facto reign in Sweden.

Birth of Antonio Stradivari (dies 1737) in Cremona.

1646. Birth of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (dies 1716) in Leipzig.

1648. The Treaty of Westphalia terminates the Thirty Years War.

The United Provinces sign a separate peace accord recognizing independence of the United Provinces.

1649. Descartes completes Les Passions de l’âme.

Charles I of England beheaded.

1650. Under the tutelage of Dr. Van den Enden of Bremen, Spinoza studies Latin, natural science (physics, mechanics, chemistry,
astronomy, and physiology), and philosophy. Spinoza probably meets Clara Marie van den Enden (the master’s daughter) with
whom he later falls in love.

Death of Descartes in Sweden.

Death of William II, Count of Nassau, Prince of Orange.

1651. Probable date Spinoza first reads Descartes’ philosophical works. Later he would write in reference to Descartes secular logic that humans are part of nature not separate from it, “Most writers on the emotions and on human conduct seem to be treating rather of matters outside nature than of natural phenomena following nature’s general laws. They appear to conceive man to be situated in nature as a kingdom within a kingdom; for they believe that he disturbs rather than follows nature’s order, that he has absolute control over his actions, and that he is determined by himself… Nothing comes to pass in nature, which can be set down to a flaw therein; for nature is always the same… there should be one and the same method of understanding the nature of things whatever… (Quoted in Nagel 1948:272)” I’m not sure which of Spinoza’s works he is quoting in Perry 2003:15)

Hobbes publishes Leviathan.

Cromwell passes the Navigation Act.

The Dutch colonize the Cape of Good Hope.

Start of the first Anglo-Dutch war.

1652. Despite strong opposition from his father, Spinoza takes up lens-grinding.

1653. Jan de Witt appointed Council Pensionary of the province of Holland.

Pascal joins the Jansenists at Port-Royal.

1654. Death of Spinoza’s father, Michael.

Treaty of Westminster ends the first Anglo-Dutch war.

Velasquez paints Las Meninas

1655. Spinoza is accused of heresy (materialism and “contempt for the Torah”) before the Tribunal of the Congregation.
Probable date of composition of Spinoza’s Korte verhandeling van God, de mensch en des zelfs welstand (Tractatus de Deo et
homine etjusque felicitate).

1656. Spinoza, at twenty-four years old, is excommunicated from the Amsterdam Synagogue. He is prevented from contact with any Jews, including family and friends. Thereafter he lives alone, in various Dutch cities until 1670 (Damasio 2003).

An edict of the States of Holland prohibits the teaching of Cartesian philosophy.

Christian Huygens uses the pendulum to regulate clock movements.

Pascal publishes Lettres provinciales (against the Jesuits).

1658. Death of Cromwell.

1659. Huygens identifies the rings of Saturn.

1660. The Amsterdam Synagogue officially petitions the municipal authorities to denounce Spinoza as a “menace to all piety
and morals.”

Restoration of the monarchy in England with the accession of Charles II.

Death of Velasquez (born 1599).

1661. Spinoza leaves Amsterdam for nearby Rijnsburg; begins writing Ethica; Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata . meets Henry Oldenburg. Probable date of Vermeer’s Little Street and View of Delft.

Inauguration of the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV of France.

Huygens invents the manometer (for ascertaining the elastic force of gases).

Robert Boyle publishes The Skeptical Chymist.

1622. Probable completion of Spinoza’s Tractatus de intellectus emendatione.

Death of Pascal (born 1623).

1663. Spinoza moves to Voorburg, outside The Hague; takes up residence with the painter, Daniel Tydemann.

New Amsterdam is seized by the English and renamed New York.

1664. Spinoza publishes, in the Hague, Renati Des Cartes principiorum philosophiae along with Cogitata metaphysica.
Probable date of Vermeer’s Lacemaker.

1665. Beginning of the second Anglo-Dutch war (lasts until 1667).

1666. Newton’s annus mirabilis (universal gravitation, differential calculus, lunar orbit).

Leibniz submits dissertation, Nova methodus discendique juris; also completes De arte combinatoria.

Louis XIV invades the Spanish Netherlands.

Death of Frans Hals (born Antwerp, 1580) in Haarlem.

Death of Guercino (born Northern Italy, 1591).

1667. Admiral de Ryuyter sails his navy into the mouth of the Thames; destroys the English fleet.

Treaty of Breda marks the end of hostilities between England and the Netherlands.

War of Devolution begins as French troops invade the Spanish Netherlands.

1668. Leeuwenhoeck produces the first accurate description of red blood corpuscles.

Newton constructs reflecting telescope.

Birth of Giovanni Battista Vico (dies 1744).

The Triple Alliance (England, United Provinces, Sweden) halts the French conquest of the Spanish Netherlands.

Signing of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.

1669. Death of Rembrandt (born Leiden, 1606) in Amsterdam.

Tractatus theologico-politicus is denounced by the (Calvinist) Church Council of Amsterdam as a “work forged in Hell by a renegade Jew and the Devil and issued with the knowledge of Mynheer Jan de Witt.”

1670 Spinoza moves to The Hague; takes up residence on the Stille Veerkade. Anonymous publication of Spinoza’s Tractatus Politicus Religiosus in Latin (Damasio 2003).

Pascal’s Pensées published posthumously.

1671. Leibniz sends Spinoza his Notita opticae promoteae; Spinoza sends Leibniz his Tractatus theologico-politicus.

Clara Marie van den Enden marries Dr. Kerckrinck, a wealthy Amsterdam physician and disciple of Spinoza.

1672. Louis XIV, having undermined the Triple Alliance, invades the United Provinces. The Dutch open the dikes and manage to hold the French within a day’s march of Amsterdam. Jan de Witt and his brother are held responsible (by an already incensed,
anti-libertarian Calvinist clergy) for the invasion, and are massacred by a mob on 20 August. William of Orange is made Captain-General of the United Provinces.

1673. Spinoza is invited by the Elector Palatine to accept a Professorship of Philosophy at the University of Heidelberg;
Spinoza declines the offer.

The French are expelled from Dutch territory, but not before they lay waste to large areas of the countryside.

1674. At the instigation of William of Orange, an edict banning Tractatus theologico-politicus is issued by the States of Holland.

1675. Spinoza completet Ethica in which he described how,Mind and body are one and the same thing, which is conceived now under the attribute of thought, now under that of extension . . . . And consequently the order of the actions and passions of our body is the same as the order of the actions and passions of the mind.”

“We thus see how it comes about, as is often the case, that we regard as present many things which are not. It is possible that the same result may be brought about by other causes; but I think it suffices for me here to have indicated one possible explanation, just as well as if I had pointed out the true cause. Indeed, I do not think I am very far from the truth, for all my assumptions are based on postulates, which rest, almost without exception, on experience, that cannot be controverted by those who have shown, as we have, that the human body, as we feel it, exists (Cor. after II. xiii.). Furthermore (II. vii. Cor., II. xvi. Cor. ii.), we clearly understand what is the difference between the idea, say, of Peter, which constitutes the essence of Peter’s mind, and the idea of the said Peter, which is in another man, say, Paul. The former directly answers to the essence of Peter’s own body, and only implies existence so long as Peter exists; the latter indicates rather the disposition of Paul’s body than the nature of Peter, and, therefore, while this disposition of Paul’s body lasts, Paul’s mind will regard Peter as present to itself, even though he no longer exists. Further, to retain the usual phraseology, the modifications of the human body, of which the ideas represent external bodies as present to us, we will call the images of things, though they do not recall the figure of things. When the mind regards bodies in this fashion, we say that it imagines. I will here draw attention to the fact, in order to indicate where error lies, that the imaginations of the mind, looked at in themselves, do not contain error. The mind does not err in the mere act of imagining, but only in so far as it is regarded as being without the idea, which excludes the existence of such things as it imagines to be present to it. If the mind, while imagining non-existent things as present to it, is at the same time conscious that they do not really exist, this power of imagination must be set down to the efficacy of its nature, and not to a fault, especially if this faculty of imagination depend solely on its own nature–that is (I. Def. vii.), if this faculty of imagination be free.”

Leibniz visits Spinoza in The Hague.

Death of Vermeer (born 1632).

Birth of Antonio Vivaldi (dies 1741).

1677. Death of Spinoza (born 1632), 21 February. Publication, by Spinoza’s friends in Amsterdam, of the Opera Posthuma (Ethica, Tractatus politicus, Tractatus de intellectus emendatione, Epistolae, Compendium Grammatices Linguae Hebrae).

Leeuwenhoeck discovers spermatozoa.

William of Orange marries Princess Mary, daughter of the Duke of York.

1678. Publication of body of Spinoza’s work in Dutch and French. Secular and ecclesiastical authorities enforce prohibition of Spinoza’s books throughout Europe. His work circulates illegally (Damasio 2003).

1679. Death of Hobbes (born 1588).

1684 John Locke’s exile in Holland to 1689 (Damasio 2003).

1687 Publication of Newton’s treatise on gravitation (Damasio 2003).

1690 Locke publishes Essays Concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises on Government at age sixty (Damasio 2003).

1704 Locke died at age seventy-two (Damasio 2003).

1743 Birth of Thomas Jefferson (Damasio 2003).

1748 Montesquieu publishes L’Esprit des Lois.

1764 Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary is published five years after his Candide.

1772 Conclusion of the publication of the Encyclopedie, the centrepiece work of the Enlightenment under the direction of Denis Diderot and Jean-le-Rond d’Alembert (Damasio 2003).

1789 The French Revolution (Damasio 2003).

1791 The First Amendment to the United States Constitution (Damasio 2003).

1896 Art historian Bernard Berenson, who was born to a poor Jewish family, compared his highly lucrative role in the art market, his means of livelihood with the humble labors of Spinoza and St.Paul. The former earned his living as a lens-grinder while the latter made tents. Berenson became very wealthy by associating himself with high profile dealers and using his expertise as consultant to establish authenticity of works of Italian art thereby earning huge commissions. He established his reputation through his gift of establishing authorship of Italian paintings. Shapiro felt that Berenson’s real contribution to the art world was his work as connoisseur-critic, not in philosophy. His contribution to Italian art of … period still benefit students of Italian painting today. Berenson’s scholarship has been questioned by his peers including at Harvard. Shapiro feels that Berenson’s ideas were less original and important that Berenson thought. Shapiro accuses Berenson of a refusal to grow in his ideas as theorist or critic. His ideas become clichés over the years. He uses the same ideas to both explain the best in Italian art and to criticize contemporary art. See Berenson. (1896) Florentine Painters of the Renaissance.

Spinoza is grouped with Rabelais, Goethe and Rousseau as forming a canon of literature essential for those seriously studying anthropology, literature and/or philosophy.

1968 Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) wrote Spinoza et le problème de l’expression.

1978 Deleuze, G. (1978). “Seminar Session on Spinoza.” Translated by T. S. Murphy. Gilles Deleuze referred to Spinoza as “The absolute philosopher, whose Ethics is the foremost book on concepts” (Deleuze, 1990).

1978 Deleuze, G. (1978). “Seminar Session on Spinoza.” Translated by T. S. Murphy. Deleuze asks what is an idea and what is an affect in Spinoza? problem of synthesis and the problem of time in Kant. a philosopher is not only someone who invents notions, he also perhaps invents ways of perceiving. Spinoza is exceptional: the way he touches those who enter into his books has no equivalent. AFFECTIO and AFFECTUS the Ethics, written in Latin is Spinoza’s principal book “affection” for affectioaffect” or “feeling” [sentiment] for affectus. First point: what is an idea? an idea is a mode of thought which represents something. A representational mode of thought. For example, the idea of a triangle is the mode of thought which represents the triangle. Still from the terminological point of view, it’s quite useful to know that since the Middle Ages this aspect of the idea has been termed its “objective reality.” In texts from the 17th century and earlier, when you encounter the objective reality of the idea this always means the idea envisioned as representation of something. The idea, insofar as it represents something, is said to have an objective reality. It is the relation of the idea to the object that it represents. The idea is a mode of thought defined by its representational character. This already gives us a first point of departure for distinguishing idea and affect (affectus) because we call affect any mode of thought which doesn’t represent anything. affect or feeling, a hope for example, a pain, a love, this is not representational. There is an idea of the loved thing, there is an idea of something hoped for, but hope as such or love as such represents nothing, strictly nothing. Every mode of thought insofar as it is non-representational will be termed affect. A volition, a will implies, in all rigor, that I will something, and what I will is an object of representation, what I will is given in an idea, but the fact of willing is not an idea, it is an affect because it is a non-representational mode of thought. He thereby immediately infers a primacy of the idea over the affect, and this is common to the whole 17th century, so we have not yet entered into what is specific to Spinoza. There is a primacy of the idea over the affect for the very simple reason that in order to love it’s necessary to have an idea, however confused it may be, however indeterminate it may be, of what is loved.
There is thus a primacy, which is chronological and logical at the same time, of the idea over the affect, which is to say a primacy of representational modes of thought over non-representational modes. It would be a completely disastrous reversal of meaning if the reader were to transform this logical primacy through reduction. That the affect presupposes the idea above all does not mean that it is reduced to the idea or to a combination of ideas. We must proceed from the following point, that idea and affect are two kinds of modes of thought which differ in nature, which are irreducible to one another but simply taken up in a relation such that affect presupposes an idea, however confused it may be. This is the first point. Now a second, less superficial way of presenting the idea-affect relation. You will recall that we started from a very simple characteristic of the idea. The idea is a thought insofar as it is representational, a mode of thought insofar as it is representational, and in this sense we will speak of the objective reality of an idea. Yet an idea not only has an objective reality but, following the hallowed terminology, it also has a formal reality. What is the formal reality of the idea? Once we say that the objective reality is the reality of the idea insofar as it represents something, the formal reality of the idea, shall we say, is-but then in one blow it becomes much more complicated and much more interesting – the reality of the idea insofar as it is itself something.

1988 Gille Deleuze. Spinoza: A Practical Philosophy. San Francisco: City Lights Books (Damasio 2003).

1990 Gilles Deleuze referred to Spinoza as “The absolute philosopher, whose Ethics is the foremost book on concepts” (Deleuze, 1990).

1993? Jean Pierre Changeux used the term neuroethics at a landmark symposium on biology and ethics held in Paris under the auspices of the Institute Pasteur (Damasio 2003:318).

2000 Michael Nardt, A. Negri. Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press (Damasio 2003).

2001 Martha Nussbaum. Upheavals of Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press (Damasio 2003:305). The appraisal process based on a wealth of human experience is partly accessible to introspection and has been recorded in literature as Martha Nussbaum has shown (Damasio 2003: 305 re: note 22). See also (Damasio 2003:318) referring to note 20 where Damaisio directs readers to Nussbaum’s discussion of the role of emotions in justice in general and in the application of justice in particular.

Selected bibliography

Bombard, R. 1994. Tempus Spinozanum. Compiled: Spring 1994

Damasio, Antonio. 2003. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain.

2 Responses to “Before, During and After Spinoza’s Time (Building on Damasio 2003)”

  1. Sue Welch Says:

    I believe there has been a typing error
    Birth of Galileo Galilee, Shakespeare and Marlowe should be 1564 and not 1546 Calvin also died in 1564 and not 1546

  2. hemaworstje Says:

    just details details , as long as they are European it is fine by me.

    a nice blog this is.

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