The Spinoza Web is a website that seeks to make the Dutch philosopher Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-1677) accessible to a wide range of users from interested novices to advanced scholars, and everything in between. It is a continually developing, active project whose success depends on its users. Please contact us with feedback, suggestions, and ideas!
At present our website offers two points of entry. The ‘Timeline Experience’ tells the story of Spinoza, using rich graphic and other supporting material through which the user can navigate to enter and experience his very world. The ‘Database Search’ is a gateway to an enormous repository for the study of Spinoza, whose goal is eventually to assemble all first-hand documentation pertaining to him. Attractively designed without compromising on scholarly standards, our website promotes a source-based contextual approach to Spinoza who, revered and reviled, has had countless rumours and myths attached to his name over the course of the centuries.
The Spinoza Web is a creation of the ‘Spinoza’s Web’-project of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). It traces back to an early initiative of its main executive, Jeroen van de Ven, and was implemented by the project’s principal investigator, Piet Steenbakkers, who had entertained a long-time wish for a website dedicated to Spinoza. In 2014 postdoctoral researcher Albert Gootjes joined their ranks in a largely advisory capacity. Later that year the team commissioned the Rotterdam-based advertising agency Nijgh, which gladly welcomed the new challenge of combining creative inspiration with scholarly rigour.
After extensive planning and user tests, November 2016 saw the beta release of The Spinoza Web, notably featuring the ‘Timeline Experience’ and Database with entries largely based on the historical and bibliographical research by Jeroen van de Ven. Subsequent releases are scheduled to boost the ‘Database Search’ by making available in open access Spinoza’s writings both in their original editions and in an authoritative English translation. Further plans include the addition of an interactive element facilitating Spinoza studies. To help us realize our pursuits, we welcome all contributions including but not limited to financial support. Potential contributors are encouraged to get in touch using the Contact page.
We gratefully acknowledge the generous funding received from our Sponsors. For all contributions in kind, ranging from IT support to copyright permissions, we thank the following individuals and institutions:
Dick Timmer, Samuel van Bruchem, Ward Huetink, ICT & Media at Utrecht University (Faculty of Humanities), Centraal Museum Utrecht, Koninklijke Bibliotheek (The Hague), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Joods Historisch Museum (Amsterdam), Amsterdam Stadsarchief, Universiteit van Amsterdam (University Library), Beth Haim (Cemetery of the Portuguese Jewish community, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel), Leiden University Library, Hoogheemraadschap van Schieland en de Krimpenerwaard (Rotterdam), Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Universitäts-und Forschungsbibliothek Erfurt/Gotha, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek–Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek (Hanover), Vereniging Het Spinozahuis, Historisches Archiv des Germanischen Nationalmuseum (Nuremberg), Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt (Halle), Universität Bern (University Library), Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel), Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna), Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris), Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana (Archivio della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede), National Library of the Czech Republic, Royal Society (London), Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Utrecht University Library, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), Google (Books), as well as staff of a large number of international libraries who kindly provided information about seventeenth-century printed copies of Spinoza's writings now kept in their holdings.
Directions for use
Unless otherwise indicated, dates are given according to the Gregorian calendar (‘New Style’), with the year starting on 1 January. The Dutch provinces Utrecht, Friesland, Gelderland, Overijssel, and Groningen, as well as German-speaking territories, retained the Julian calendar (‘Old Style’) until 1700/01, whereas England did so until 1752. Until that date, the civil or legal year in England also began on 25 March (Lady Day) rather than 1 January.
Of Spinoza’s correspondence 88 letters have survived: 75 published in the posthumous writings and 13 that have come down to us in other ways. An additional 45 letters have been postulated so far, often on the basis of textual evidence in extant letters; in the Database these are marked with an asterisk (*). Each letter has a unique code, specifying the date according to the Gregorian calendar (in the format yyyy.mm.dd). Where the month and/or day are unknown, they are designated as 00. Conjectural dates are given between square brackets. The mathematical symbols for less-than (<) and greater-than (>) signify ‘earlier/later than’ the date given. Page number(s) in the Opera posthuma which are followed by the siglum ‘v’ refer to a Latin version (‘versio’) of a letter originally written in Dutch.
NS = De nagelate schriften
OP = Opera posthuma
PPC/CM= Renati des Cartes Principiorum philosophiae pars I et II + Cogitata metaphysica
TTP = Tractatus theologico-politicus
In the seventeenth century, spelling was not consistent, also for family names. In addition, academics used Latinized forms. In the Timeline experience and Database, names are given in the form now commonly preferred (Descartes, Wittich rather than Cartesius, Wittichius; but Serrarius instead of Serrurier). In Dutch, prefixes (‘de’, ‘van’, ‘van der’ and the like) are retained when referring to people with their family names: Lambert van Velthuysen and Van Velthuysen (rather than Velthuysen); Regnerus van Mansveld and Van Mansveld (rather than Mansveld). Aliases of Jewish names are given in their most common form, e.g., Abraham Jesurum de Spinoza (Michael d’Espinosa’s paternal uncle), instead of the Portuguese alias Manuel Rodrigues de Spinoza. For topographical names, established English forms have been used wherever possible (The Hague, not ’s-Gravenhage or Den Haag; Cologne, not Köln), otherwise the vernacular is preferred (’s-Hertogenbosch or Den Bosch, not Bois-le-Duc).
All English quotations from Spinoza’s writings are from Edwin Curley (trans.), The Collected Works of Spinoza, 2 vols, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (1986, 2016).