Waar Spinoza z'n mosterd vandaan had is erg afhankelijk van de herkomst van de onderzoeker

Zo heeft de uit Marokko afkomstige schrijver Fouad Laroui, die al jaren aan de UvA doceert, de overtuiging "que l’immense Spinoza puisait son inspiration chez un qadi andalou écrivant en arabe" [n.l. Ibn Tufayl]. Hij doet deze uitspraak in zijn Column van 16 december 2015 op Le360, "Le manteau de Spinoza", waarin hij teruggrijpt op een lezing die hij in 2008 over Ibn Tufayl en Spinoza heeft gegeven.

Ferdi Fluitsma wees mij op de komst van dit boek

Miquel Beltrán, The Influence of Abraham Cohen de Herrara's Kabbalah on Spinoza's Metaphysics. Leiden, Brill, April 2016

In this book the author seeks to find historiographical and textual evidence that Abraham Cohen de Herrera ‘s main kabbalistic work, Puerta del Cielo, influenced Spinoza’s metaphysics as it is expounded in his later work, the Ethica. Many of the most important ontological topics maintained by the philosopher, like the concept of the first cause as substance, the procession of the infinite modes, the subjective or metaphorical reality of the attributes, and the two different understandings of God, were anticipated in Herrera’s mystical treatise. Both shared a particular consideration of panentheism that entails acosmism. This influence is proven through a comparative examination of the writings of both authors, as well as a detailed research on previous Jewish philosophical thought.

Zie ook het blog van 15-03-2012: "Had Spinoza zijn Deus sive Natura en amor Dei intellectualis uit de kabbala?" Zo te zien gaat Miquel Beltrán dit nog eens flink onderbouwen.    

Spinoza had het boek van Abraham Cohen de Herrera niet in z´n boekenkast (althans, het komt niet voor op de door de notaris opgestelde lijst van boeken die hij naliet), en of hij bekend was met en wat hij vond van Ibn Tufayl's Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, daarover is geen snipper overgeleverd, zoals ik in mijn blogs in 2009 heb laten zien. 
Enfin, de joodse Harry A. Wolfson, voor wie Spinoza's filosofie het product was van de 'joodse scholastiek' heeft opvolgers gevonden.


Foto van Fouad Laroui van wikipedia.

Foto van Miquel Beltrán van hier.  


Yitzhak Y. Melamed schreef dit review van Miquel Beltràn's The Influence of Abraham Cohen de Herrera’s Kabbalah on Spinoza’s Metaphysics. Journal of the History of Philosophy, forthcoming [cf.]. Ik ben zo vrij het hier over te nemen.


Miquel Beltràn. The Influence of Abraham Cohen de Herrera’s Kabbalah on Spinoza’s Metaphysics. Leiden: Brill, 2016. Pp. vi + 449. Cloth, $218.00. 


Addressing the alleged “great secrets” contained in Scripture, Spinoza wrote in the Theological Political Treatise: “I have also read, and for that matter, known personally, certain Kabbalistic triflers. I’ve never been able to be sufficiently amazed by their madness” (TTP ch. 9, Gebhardt III/136/1–2). Were these words Spinoza’s only reference to the Kabbalah, we would hardly have any reason to believe that his attitude toward the Kabbalistic literature was anything but dismissive. However, in a 1675 letter to Henry Oldenburg, Spinoza stressed that he shared the view that “all things are in God” with certain ancient traditions [traditionibus] of the Hebrews, “corrupted as they have been in many ways” (Ep. 73, Gebhardt IV/307/11). Since the very meaning of the word ‘Kabbalah’ in Hebrew is “tradition,” and since the view of the Kabbalah as a corpus of ancient wisdom that got corrupted was widespread among early modern writers, it is highly likely that Spinoza’s claims in the letter to Oldenburg referred to Kabbalistic pantheism (which was the main current within Kabbalistic thought).

            The precise nature of Spinoza’s relation to the Kabbalah has been subject to debate and speculation ever since Wachter’s 1699 Spinozismus in Jüdenthumb; and the list of luminaries who took part in this debate include Leibniz, F. H. Jacobi, Salomon Maimon, Schelling, Gershom Scholem, Zev Harvey, and Moshe Idel. The main common feature that Spinoza’s metaphysics shares with Kabbalistic theory is the combination of pantheism and emanation. Furthermore, some Kabbalists conceived the flow of things from the Einsof (the infinite) as strictly necessary. We may also note the significant presence of Kabbalistic works in Spinoza’s personal library.

            Miquel Beltràn’s new book is an important contribution to this three-centuries-old debate. The book focuses on Spinoza’s relation to the writing of the major Kabbalist of early modern Amsterdam, Abraham Cohen de Herrera (1562(?)–1635). Though Herrera’s books were not in Spinoza’s library, there are intriguing thematic similarities between his synthesis of Renaissance philosophy and Kabbalah on the one hand, and Spinoza’s metaphysics on the other.

            Beltràn’s book is very clear and highly erudite. It relies upon, and engages in, a critical dialogue with the recent wave of studies and translations of Herrera’s books, and it is clearly the most comprehensive study of the topic. Some of Beltràn’s claims are quite bold. Thus, for example, he argues that Spinoza’s 1656 excommunication was partly due to his interpretation of Herrera’s works (44), and that natura naturans “does not refer to substance as substance, but rather as a free cause of that which follows from its nature” (377).

            The scope of Beltràn’s study is quite wide, covering diverse issues such as amor Dei intellectualis, the notion of causa sui, the nature of the attributes, infinity, and acosmism. The book also contains some insightful discussions of Spinoza’s reception of Maimonides and of Wachter’s reading of Spinoza. Every so often, I found myself in disagreement with the author, but this is a rich, stimulating, and even exciting work, and is clearly one that should be addressed and studied by anyone with a serious interest in Spinoza’s relation to the Kabbalah.

Yitzhak Y. Melamed

Johns Hopkins University