The Spinoza Case, Part Two

The Spinoza Case, Part Two
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Well, Spinoza is still officially excommunicated. There was a lively discussion on Sunday in Amsterdam, in an extraordinary setting: the large hall of a former seventeenth-century "schuilkerk" (or hidden church), where Catholics were allowed to (quietly) hold services in a fiercely Calvinist land. We, the members of the scholarly committee asked by the Portuguese-Jewish congregation to provide background on the philosophical and historical circumstances of the 1656 herem, did our job; and the 500 people in attendance also heard from several rabbis and other scholars speaking both for and against lifting the ban. In the end, though, the sentiment among many present seemed to be that while there may be compelling reasons to make at least a gesture of reconciliation, actually lifting the herem would be inappropriate and, from a Jewish legal perspective, unjustified. Still, Spinoza remains a beloved hero, especially within the Jewish world. And he, for one, were he asked whether the ban should be revoked, would probably say "I couldn't care less".
For Dutch readers, here is a newspaper report of the event.

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