Spinoza: A marrano of reason?

Inquiry 35 (1):37 – 53 (1992)
Abstract
In the first volume of his Spinoza and Other Heretics entitled The Marrano of Reason, Yovel proposes a different cultural context for the study of Spinoza: the Marrano mentalité. Living as crypto?Jews in a Catholic Iberian world, the Marranos developed a certain life?style that had specific religious and literary modes of expression: heterodox tendencies, the use of equivocation, and the zealous search for salvation, which often assumed secular forms. These Marrano traits are, Yovel claims, found in Spinoza as well, who was the son of a Marrano and brought up in the Marrano milieu of the Amsterdam Jewish quarter. In this essay I challenge this interpretation of Spinoza by stressing both the generally orthodox character of Marrano religiosity and the significant differences between Spinoza and the few Marrano heretics by whom he was supposedly influenced. I argue that Spinoza not only rejected Marrano orthodoxy but was already inhabiting an intellectual framework that differed considerably from the marginal deviant Marrano pattern that Yovel focuses upon
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