BENTO (BARUCH) SPINOZA was excommunicated from the Portuguese-Jewish community of Amsterdam in 1656, when he was still a young man. He would go on to become the most radical and controversial thinker of his time. In his treatise Ethics
(written in the 1660s), he rejected the providential God of Judaism and Christianity as a figment of the imagination. God, he claimed, is just Nature, and everything that happens follows with absolute necessity from Nature’s laws. In his Theological-Political Treatise
(published anonymously in 1670), Spinoza claims that miracles are impossible, that the major organized religions are nothing but organized superstitions, and that the Bible is just a “corrupt and mutilated” work of human literature. One overwrought critic called it “a book forged in hell […] by the devil himself.”
Heretics! The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy
is a graphic history about Spinoza and the other thinkers of the 17th century who refashioned the way we think about the cosmos, the world around us, and ourselves.
Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy and Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Ben Nadler is an illustrator and a graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design.