Wonder if they mention Spinoza, he obsesses.

I know what I am doing in the next 3 spare hours I can find. Watching this 3-part BBC documentary on the history of atheism. Apparently to be shown — horror of horrors — in the USA on (where else) NPR.

UPDATE: watched it, or enough of it. They, or rather Jonathan Miller, all-round Clever Person and presenter of the documentary, do not. Spinoza’s name is mentioned only in passing in part 2, in the title of an anti-Atheist screed published in the C17th. But a great deal of streaming video bits are spent in a discussion of Hobbes, and some Baron d’Holbach who in 1790 was the first vaguely modern person to formally call himself an atheist. I still, I have to admit, to finish part 3. My overriding impression is so far that it is all a bit anglo-centric. Not enough discussion of the impact of continental mechanical rationalists like Descartes, let alone of Spinoza. Never mind, when Jonathan Miller reads Ultimi Barbarorum he can apologise in the comments section.


One thought on “Wonder if they mention Spinoza, he obsesses.”

  1. As someone with a philosophers degree, the absence of Spinoza in the documentary bothered me too. If you go looking for the earliest real famous ‘atheist’ of modernity you have to mention Spinoza. (Spinoza’s teacher Van den Eynde was even more of an atheïst radical, but he is very little known). Spinoza literaly denies there is anything as an anthropomorphical god and quite openly goes attacking the whole idea of religion in his tractatus theologico politicus. Surely Spinoza still speaks of god, but he means nothing more then simply nature. (Deus sive natura!) Millers approach was indeed very anglo-central and I have to say this dissapointed me a bit. Miller seems to forget the netherlands were quite tolerant too in the 17th century.

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