The Courtier and the Heretic by Matthew Stewart
Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World

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Synopsis

“A colorful reinterpretation. . . . Stewart’s wit and profluent prose make this book a fascinating read.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review


Philosophy in the late seventeenth century was a dangerous business. No careerist could afford to know the reclusive, controversial philosopher Baruch de Spinoza. Yet the wildly ambitious genius Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who denounced Spinoza in public, became privately obsessed with Spinoza's ideas, wrote him clandestine letters, and ultimately met him in secret.



"In refreshingly lucid terms" (Booklist) Matthew Stewart "rescues both men from a dusty academic shelf, bringing them to life as enlightened humans" (Library Journal) central to the religious, political, and personal battles that gave birth to the modern age. Both men put their faith in the guidance of reason, but one spent his life defending a God he may not have believed in, while the other believed in a God who did not need his defense. Ultimately, the two thinkers represent radically different approaches to the challenges of the modern era. They stand for a choice that we all must make.
 

About Matthew Stewart

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Matthew Stewart graduated from Princeton and received his D.Phil. from Oxford. He is the author of The Truth About Everything: An Irreverent History of Philosophy. He lives in New York City.
 
Published January 17, 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company. 353 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Law & Philosophy, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Having covered Spinoza’s death, Stewart charts the further development of Leibniz’s thinking, with an emphasis on Spinoza’s influence.

Nov 15 2005 | Read Full Review of The Courtier and the Heretic:...

The New York Times

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Leibniz wrote it down in Spinoza's presence then read it out to him, and Spinoza could have refuted it, both handily and ego-crushingly, producing what Stewart portrays as an anti-Spinoza animus Leibniz jealously nursed to the end of his days.

Feb 26 2006 | Read Full Review of The Courtier and the Heretic:...

The Guardian

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The Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza and the Fate of God in the Modern World by Matthew Stewart 351pp, Yale University Press, £16.95 Now that we know that George W Bush's favourite philosopher is Jesus Christ, no US president, however liberal, is likely to have the guts to nominate Baru...

Apr 15 2006 | Read Full Review of The Courtier and the Heretic:...

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