Sebastian Kortholt

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Sebastian Kortholt lectured on rhetoric and moral philosophy at Kiel University. He corresponded with Leibniz from early June 1700 to 1716. There are some interesting references to Spinoza in his letters, for example in his letter to his father about Spinoza’s self-chosen isolation:

The accuracy of this is confirmed in what the adviser to his serene highness the Duke of Holstein, mr. Christoph Nicolai of Greiffencrantz, someone who kept Spinoza company in The Hague in 1672, told about him [Spinoza] in his letter to my father, sent from Holm in Sweden to him on 6 April 1681. ‘He appeared to live all to himself’, he said, ‘always lonely and if buried in his study’.

Source: Walther and Czelinski, vol. 1, pp. 74–6.

Sebastian makes some interesting claims about the public auction of Spinoza's inventory held on the 4th of November 1677 at the Paviljoensgracht. These remarks partly based on Sebastian’s own encounter with Hendrick van der Spijck whom he reports to have interviewed when he visited The Hague.  With respect to the public sale of Spinoza’s belongings, Sebastian states that several ‘scholars’ came to buy books from Spinoza’s reference library. Among them was the medical doctor Cornelis Bontekoe from The Hague. Although the library was modest, Sebastian claims, most of those men present were eager to buy copies that were all sold at quite some high prices:

After Spinoza’s death, many scholars, amongst others Cornelis Bontekoe, eagerly wanted to take over books from his estate. However, he [Spinoza] did not appreciate, like Hobbes [did], [to possess] such a large quantity of books and left behind hardly forty, which the scholars bought for themselves at very high prices.

Source: Kortholt, in Walther and Czelinski, vol. 1, p. 78.

This statement is equally important insofar as Kortholt maintains that just forty books were in the sale. If however the statement is historically accurate one would asked why only a portion of Spinoza’s books (161 entries, arranged in 159 numbers) would be sold.


Hendrick Spijck, van der


Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz


Christian Kortholt