Baruch Spinoza: A Life

Kings Place, London

One of Judaism’s most controversial figures, Baruch Spinoza was a radical free thinker led by strong moral principles despite his disbelief in an all-seeing God. Seen by many as Satan’s disciple during his life, he has been regarded as a secular saint in death.

Many contradictory beliefs have been attached to him: liberalism, despotism, atheism, pantheism. But his defence of universal freedom is as important in our own time as it was in his.

Award-winning historian Jonathan Israel is joined by Bard College professor Ian Buruma to discuss the boldest and most unsettling of the early modern philosophers, one who had a far greater impact on the Enlightenment than has previously been recognised.

Buy a copy of Spinoza: Life & Legacy by Jonathan Israel and a copy of Spinoza: Freedom's Messiah by Ian Buruma

Speaker biography

Jonathan I. Israel

Jonathan I. Israel is Professor Emeritus, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He is the author of the highly acclaimed Radical Enlightenment (2001), Enlightenment Contested (2006), Democratic Enlightenment (2011), and The Enlightenment that Failed (2019), all published by Oxford University Press.

Speaker biography

Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma was born in the Netherlands. He studied Chinese at Leiden University and cinema at Nihon University, Tokyo. He has lived and worked in Tokyo, Hong Kong, London and New York. He is a regular contributor to Harper's and The New Yorker and writes monthly columns for Project Syndicate and Bloomberg. He is a professor at Bard College and lives in New York City.

Image © Merlijn Doomernik

Chair biography

Lipika Pelham

Lipika Pelham is a historian, journalist, documentary filmmaker and the author of Passing: An Alternative History of Identity (2021), Jerusalem on the Amstel: The Quest for Zion in the Dutch Republic (2019), Conversations Across Place (2021), and The Unlikely Settler (2014). She has recently completed a PhD commentary on Sephardi Jewish converts in Early Modern Amsterdam: The Quest for Zion In The Dutch Republic, at Westminster University, London. Lipika currently works on the newsdesk at BBC News Online, and BBC World Service, covering primarily Mideast news. She is also a globe-trotting Special Reporter for London-based Perspective magazine.

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