Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

October 31, 2020
Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

From Pulitzer Prize-finalist Steven Nadler, an engagingguide to what Spinoza can teach us about life’s bigquestionsIn 1656, after being excommunicated from Amsterdam’sPortuguese-Jewish community for “abominable heresies” and“monstrous deeds,” the young Baruch Spinoza abandoned his family’simport business to dedicate his life to philosophy. He quicklybecame notorious across Europe for his views on God, the Bible, andmiracles, as well as for his uncompromising defense of freethought. Yet the radicalism of Spinoza’s views has long obscuredthat his primary reason for turning to philosophy was to answer oneof humanity’s most urgent questions: How can we lead a good lifeand enjoy happiness in a world without a providential God? In ThinkLeast of Death, Pulitzer Prize–finalist Steven Nadler connectsSpinoza’s ideas with his life and times to offer a compellingaccount of how the philosopher can provide a guide to living one’sbest life.In the Ethics, Spinoza presents his vision of the ideal humanbeing, the “free person” who, motivated by reason, lives a life ofjoy devoted to what is most important—improving oneself and others.Untroubled by passions such as hate, greed, and envy, free peopletreat others with benevolence, justice, and charity. Focusing onthe rewards of goodness, they enjoy the pleasures of this world,but in moderation. “The free person thinks least of all of death,”Spinoza writes, “and his wisdom is a meditation not on death but onlife."An unmatched introduction to Spinoza’s moral philosophy, ThinkLeast of Death shows how his ideas still provide valuable insightsabout how to live today.