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 Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza

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Vito

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PostSubject: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:59 pm

I came across this while doing some research in a project I'm currently working on.
Some theocrat wrote:
The members of the council do you to wit that they have long known of the evil opinions and doings of Baruch de Espinoza, and have tried by diverse methods and promises to make him turn from his evil ways. As they have not succeeded in effecting his improvement, but, on the contrary, have received every day more information about the horrible heresies which he practised and taught, and other enormities which he has committed, and as they had many trustworthy witnesses of this, who have deposed and testified in the presence of the said Spinoza, and have convicted him; and as all this has been investigated in the presence of the Rabbis, it has been resolved with their consent that the said Espinoza should be anathematised and cut off from the people of Israel, and now he is anathematised with the following anathema:

"With the judgment of the angels and with that of the saints, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and of all this holy congregation, before these sacred Scrolls of the Law, and the six hundred and thirteen precepts which are proscribed therein, we anathematise, cut off, execrate, and curse Baruch de Espinoza with the anathema wherewith Joshua anathematised Jericho, with the curse wherewith Elishah cursed the youths, and with all the curses which are written in the Law: cursed be he by day, and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lieth down, and cursed be he when he riseth up; cursed be he when he goeth out, and cursed be he when he cometh in; the Lord will not pardon him; the wrath and fury of the Lord will be kindled against this man, and bring down upon him all the curses which are written in the Book of the Law; and the Lord will destroy his name from under the heavens; and, to his undoing, the Lord will cut him off from all the tribes of Israel, with all the curses of the firmament which are written in the Book of the Law; but ye that cleave unto the Lord your God live all of you this day!"

We ordain that no one may communicate with him verbally or in writing, nor show him any favour, nor stay under the same roof with him, nor be within four cubits of him, nor read anything composed or written by him.
I love the part about the four cubits. Did "the members of the council" have some special line to God that provided them with such specificity, or did they just pull that number outa dey collective ayusses?

If I were going to add editorial commentary, I probably would say that it's a stunning example of arrogance, sanctimony, and criminal egotism, and above all, that it demonstrates the FEAR with which morons who revile philosophical truth react. But after some circumspection I've decided not to include any editorial comment.

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:21 pm

So, he was the subject of a cherem, and he was on the RC Church's index of forbidden books. Was he ever censured by the Calvinists? That would make an interesting theological "trifecta."
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Vito

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:48 pm

Fr_Tom wrote:
...Was he ever censured by the Calvinists?...
Not that I'm aware of, Fr_Tom, but I'm hardly an expert on the subject. In its earliest manifestations, Calvinism was characterized by quite a bit more intellectual freedom than was typical of other religions of the time. Nevertheless, nothing would surprise me. The history of religion does not exactly provide a model of logical consistency.

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:12 pm

What a tough crowd. You get a little spinoza on a guy and he puts a curse on you.

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:17 pm

Rolling Eyes 
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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:21 pm

Calvin had Michael Servetus burnt at the stake for disagreeing with him over a fine point of theology.

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Vito

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:49 pm

Yak wrote:
Calvin had Michael Servetus burnt at the stake for disagreeing with him over a fine point of theology.

No argument...but the question was whether the Calvinists censured Spinoza. For my part, there was never any question as to whether, at one point or another, they were capable of the same coercive behaviors that have been demonstrated repeatedly by other religions.

I had a girlfriend once (for a very short while) who was a refugee from a modern manifestation of Calvinism. She turned out to be quite a mess. I suppose everyone handles it differently, but it sure didn't do her much good.

Anyhow, far be it from me to defend any religion's record for rational & moral behavior. As someone familiar recently noted...
Vito wrote:
...nothing would surprise me. The history of religion does not exactly provide a model of logical consistency.

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:45 pm

[quote="Vito"]The history of religion does not exactly provide a model of logical consistency.

I would say it is not religion itself but its practitioners. We are a sorry lot at times.


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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:59 pm

Fr_Tom wrote:
Vito wrote:
The history of religion does not exactly provide a model of logical consistency.

I would say it is not religion itself but its practitioners. We are a sorry lot at times.  
That's true enough. I certainly has been my experience that if all people actually lived the principles and precepts taught by the religions they claim to support, the history of religion (by which I mean the historical record of human behaviors associated with those religions) would be a considerably less miserable story.

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:59 pm

I've wondered if the reason for these astonishing examples of legalism and cruelty in religions is that the churches thought of their task as administering God's waiting room with a firm hand, and propagating their "brand." The models they had handy were civil courts and government which tended to be legalistic, often cruel and consistently reactive. Take the trial of Christ by Pilate. Pilate's suggested compromise -- since he found no guilt in the man -- was to have him beaten and released, maybe turned over to Herod. But, no, this wasn't acceptable. In the NT, Acts of the Apostles has the well-known story of the rich man who sold his lands, but only turned over half the price to the apostles for distribution to the poor, lied about the total, and was struck dead. So was his wife as an accomplice. I've wondered where this came from, since there's no scriptural example for Christ behaving this way or sanctioning summary executions. Meanwhile, the current Pope is gaining some credibility simply by shunning much of the elaborate pomp and circumstance that his predecessors honored and has been in place since the Middle Ages. He seems to believe that humility is a desirable thing, has been lost, and he is trying to recover it.
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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:15 pm

Man reaps more control over Man through fear than through love. Put any group of Men together where something of value or power is at stake and there will be a fight to control it. There's nothing Godly about it. God loves, Man corrupts.

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:23 pm

What PD said.

KevinM wrote:
I've wondered if the reason for these astonishing examples of legalism and cruelty in religions is that the churches thought of their task as administering God's waiting room with a firm hand, and propagating their "brand." The models they had handy were civil courts and government which tended to be legalistic, often cruel and consistently reactive...
I think the reason is that, whatever their original intentions might have been, people who arrogate to themselves the authority to "legally" coerce others become assholes. Lord Acton nailed it: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The power to decide who lives and who dies without having to accept any consequences for such decisions seems pretty absolute to me. It is precisely that desire to control the lives and property of others that corrupts humans. Every time.

You'd think that would tell us dumb-ass humanoids something about our relentless insistence upon structuring civilization on the idea that the only way to govern is by legalized coercive force...but evidently most of the human species still hasn't figured it out. And so we keep chasing our tails...

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:27 pm

Walter Wink speaks about the spirit of domination as being the true source of evil in the world. Whether it is by religion, economics or political might, the desire to rule over others constantly corrupts and destroys. It is by no means the exclusive right of the rich and powerful either, in the poorest most humble places parents oppress their children, husbands oppress their wives, people wrestle for control of the smallest vestiges of power. I find that I am called to forgo power, yet everything in my upbringing and socialization screams against that idea

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:40 pm

Quote :
people who arrogate to themselves the authority to "legally" coerce others become assholes. Lord Acton nailed it: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

In the west maybe. Overall it depends 100% on the quality of the people and whether he's (& they're) running a good program. The Commander of the Faithful position worked well for centuries in Islam when Christiandom was a seething mass of petty warfare.

Matter of fact, Islamic Civilization was the only one worthy of the name going in the West for 500 years. We overlook stuff like that.

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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:42 am

Back on topic now.

Full Disclosure : Long, typical Yak response. If these annoy you, click out and have a nice day.  Smile If not, it may at least be one indication that the "odd" perspectives I sometimes advance are not the results of either some intellectual defect or of credulous ignorance, but of 50 years of poking around in the corners and back rooms of the past we're not supposed to concern ourselves with.

This is one of the most interesting questions ever posed here, IMO. In part, because it draws on so much background information. That being (IMO) the case, some background and context, because if this isn't considered (or even known), the question is moot.

Fr_Tom wrote:
So, he was the subject of a cherem, and he was on the RC Church's index  of forbidden books. Was he ever censured by the Calvinists? That would make an interesting theological "trifecta."
jocolor  wrote:
the question was whether the Calvinists censured Spinoza.

Probably not. Or, at least they would have for public consumption, but not seriously.

The typical Calvinist parishioner would have been as unaware of him as he was of anyone else whose ideas and doings had no impact on his. Someone like Arminius he would have been heavily indoctrinated about and against. But would a renegade Jewish optician who was causing the rabbinate in Amsterdam ideological indigestion and intriguing those given to "Philosophy" have been a figure in the mental universe of the Man in the Calvinist Street ?  Not likely, on the ground of his irrelevance.

Among the later (Calvin died in 1564 ; Spinoza was born in 1632) Calvinist movers and shakers, on the other hand, it would have been (and probably was) a very different story.

People who mattered in those days had (as "important" people have in all ages) public and private personae and interests. In public, the mandatory lines were toed. But in private, the reality behind the scenes (in contrast to the the official version) is mind-boggling. And not only in their (today, grudgingly admitted) flagrant adulteries and rapacity (not to mention the flaming homosexuality of English kings like James I and Edward II before him), but in the intellectual realm as well.  

The impact of the civilisation which flourished within (but somewhat apart from) Islam was traumatic for the Church. On one hand, people in Europe were seizing on the Greek writings of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the rest of them in philosophy, mathematics, geometry and every other branch of learning that were available to them through contact with educated Arabians. Along with these were the commentaries and independent works of Arabic scientists and philosophers which bid fair to rupture the control the church exercised over the minds of Europeans. (This contact was not always as obvious as in the Arabic kingdom of Castile [to 1491], where Jews, Christians and Islamic people rubbed shoulders and compared notes and with returning Crusaders : at least one medieval, monastically-produced  Irish illuminated Bible page contains the Arabic inscription, worked into its border decoration in Kufic script, "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate." Maritime contact between Ireland and the Mediterranean, at that time, was beyond the power of anyone to interdict. Which is, among other things, why Greek refugees from the fall of Constantinople were able to seed Ireland with knowledge of Classical and Biblical Greek  long before continental scholars had it. And how it came to be that supposedly " Great Western Classics" like Chaucer's Canturbury Tales turn out to have been based on Arabic and Persian originals [Attar's Parliament of the Birds, in that example]).

Everything written by these impossibly interesting "heretics" Rome could get its hands on was censored into conformity with its doctrine and worldview, and only available (the penalty you can imagine. King James was still doing it in 1611) in its bowlderised, complete-with-Imprimatur-&-Nihil-Obstat editions (I haven't checked, but the struggle to contain what was leaking in from across the Mediterranean was the probable origin of that strategy [which it came to depend on to insure intellectual prophylaxis for hundreds of years afterward]).

In response, the people who would not lie down and shut up there evolved every kind of underground, "subversive" strategy possible to evade the Vatican (and later, the Royal) Brain (and Political) Police. "Everyone" (presumably) knows that the Elizabethan era was the Golden Age of secret codes and cyphers. But how many connect this with the underground traditions that were bubbling to the surface everywhere then ? Bear in mind here that, like O’Brien in 1984, the very "people at the top" were the people with the interest in this and the resources to collect (and commission copies of) the rare and costly manuscripts it survived in. Not surprisingly, like Bacon and Leibniz, they turn out to have been spies, double agents and triple agents in a closed world of intrigue which had as its goal the institution of political and economic change and which saw, as with Washington and Moscow during the Cold War, not a little secret co-operation behind the scenes.

It seems odd at first to read that the Puritan divines that turned the Massachusetts Bay colony into a police state were, amongst themselves, enthusiastic students of the Cabbala. This was not the authentic Cabbala ("of the Eight Sepherot") transmitted by the ninth century Brethren of Purity (or Sincerity) (and intercepted in Europe), but the rabbinic perversion of it into congruence with Judahist theology. Because this had been, by then, adopted as the summation of the Talmud (which, in turn, was the summation of the Torah), it survived everywhere Judaism survived. And all the mass-scapegoat-expulsions that followed revelations of secret Church-Royal behind the scenes exploitation policy notwithstanding, this was nearly everywhere. (Isaac Newton, for one example). In English history, they generally pass as "Spanish" and "Portugese" merchants (i.e., Sephardim).

The Cabbalistic ideas of the Pharisees were grafted into the survivals of the Mystery School and "pagan" ideas of the pre-Christians, and supplemented by bits and snippets of Levantine traditions (many returning with the Crusaders) to the point where, as idries Shah sums the situation up, "As the centuries passed, the island was littered with the debris of these cults. Worse than ordinary debris, it was self-perpetuating. Well-meaning and other people combined the cults and recombined them, and they spread anew. For the amateur and intellectual, this constituted a mine of academic or “initiatory” material."

Fast forward to beyond Spinosa's time. In the aftermath of this, you have Martin luther publicly admiring the Rosicrucians, and even the nothing-if-not-devout Maria Theresa of Austria-Hungary refusing to permit suppression of the Freemasonic Lodges in Vienna. For that matter, when George III's ambassadors tried to rally the support of the crowned heads of Europe in the American Revolution, appealing to what they imagined must be their allegiance to the Divine Right of Kings, they uniformly refused. They were as saturated with Freemasonry as the American breakaways were. As saturated as Mexico was after the revolt from Spain and overthrow of Iturbide in 1823 -- Mexican politics boiled down to the power struggle between two Freemasonic factions -- the Yorkinos and the Escoces.

That situation continues today. The lurid and overblown (does anybody seriously believe that the Queen of England shape-shifts into a lizard when no one is looking ?) accounts of people like David Icke are symptoms of peoples' subliminal awareness of the ongoing fascination in high places with "the occult" in every imaginable form. Anyone doubting this should read the 741pp. account of the cult affiliations of the British oligarchy at the time when it was published (1933) by Edith Starr Miller, Lady Queesnborough : Occult Theocrasy. Not all the accounts of organised child molestation rings and ritual sacrifice in the newspapers are fictitious. Television and movies wouldn't abound with such (to say nothing of fascination with "the occult" in general) if these didn't "resonate" in the popular subconscious (as the fairly minor influence of such groups as the Thule Society on National Socialist Germany does to so many. Some even treat them two as synonyms).

In summation, given this context, the minority of educated Calvinists (this with reference to what education once was -- not the indoctrination with slogans that passes for it today) who were at all familiar with Spinoza's writings would have fallen into two categories : those who, trusting to the adequacy and exclusivity of the Official version (e.g., the Westminster Confession) would have condemned it sincerely, and those whose condemnation of him would have been understood by their Freemasonic peers as talking through their hats for pubic consumption.

This appears to beg an objection : that "philosophy" and "occultism" are not the same matter at all. Were there any point to doing it, an equally long (or longer) review of basic considerations and historical connections could be produced showing that, previous to the (self-styled) "enlightenment," what is today regarded as philosophy was the public face of worldviews founded, from the Greek and Levantine Mystery Schools of antiquity to the value system upon which Machiavelli is based, on more fundamental considerations.

What a Face


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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:15 pm

>>Lord Acton nailed it: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."<<

Yes, but, who is ever tempted by "absolute" power. That's kinda rare. And it seems that a lot more than just power is corruptive. (Power, though has an especially nasty angle to it in that the person wielding power can often persuade him/herself, as well as others, that rightly understood, they are pursuing the common, long-term good. Modest amounts of cash, can be very effective. In fact it's fairly surprising how little it takes for people to at least dip their toes in the pool of "corruptitude."

It seems that each of us harbors some inner tendency toward "corruption" that needs little reason to eagerly burst out and run amok.

See, "The Screwtape Letters," for a better and more extensive analysis.
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PostSubject: Re: Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza   Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:19 pm

KevinM wrote:
>>Lord Acton nailed it: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."<<

Yes, but, who is ever tempted by "absolute" power.  That's kinda rare. And it seems that a lot more than just power is corruptive....
Without first agreeing on a definition of "absolute", I'm not sure we can discuss that point further. For my part, I would define it as the use of any authority for which one does not have to accept responsibility. But I won't insist that you adopt that definition.

Nevertheless, I don't think that obviates or invalidates the basic concept — namely that power corrupts to whatever degree one wields it. And I should specify that I mean coercive power—the ability to interfere with the lives or property of others against their will, whether by force or fraud, without being held immediately accountable for the consequences.

As to your second point, no argument there. Clearly power is not the only thing that corrupts.

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