Enter Spinoza

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“This was 1647.  At that time Baruch Spinoza, ‘the greatest Jew of modern times,’ and the greatest of modern philosophers, was a lad of fifteen, the favorite student of the synagogue. …Very soon he passed from the Bible itself to the exacting subtle commentaries of the Talmud; and from these to the writings of Maimonides… …and his promiscuous voracity extended even to the mystical philosophy of Ibn Gebirol and the cabbalistic intricacies of Moses of Cordova.  He was struck by the latter’s identification of God and the universe; he followed up the idea in Ben Gerson, who taught the eternity of the world; and in the Hasdai Crescas, who believed the univrse of matter to be the body of god. …He studied (Giordano) Bruno…  What a wealth of ideas there was in this romantic Italian! First of all the master idea of unity:  All reality is one in substance, one in cause, one in origin; and God and this reality are one… The object of philosophy, therefore, is to perceive unity in diversity…”

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