Spinoza was born into a Jewish family in 1632 during the Spanish Inquisition. His parents fled Spain after heavy persecution by the Catholics to convert. When Spinoza was just 12 years old he began to question his teachings of Judaism being the “best” religion. A few years later he was ex-communicated by his synagogue for questioning those beliefs. He believed that the Bible was not to be used in a literal sense, but to be interpreted metaphorically.
His religious philosophy was that religion should be based on conduct and not creed. He felt that individual freedom was attainable only by God and that humans had boundaries which could not be surpassed, however, those boundaries can be pushed and extended by gaining knowledge of yourself and your place in nature. According to Spinoza God was not a physical being, but rather an essence that forever surrounds and controls everything in life. God unites mind and matter and is actually nature in itself. Spinoza said that there are two orders of life: the temporal order which is the world of material things and the spiritual order which is the world of laws relating to nature.
Spinoza believed that the greatest good is the knowledge of the union which the mind has with nature and that all matter consists of one substance which is inseparable with God. He believed that knowledge is based on freedom plus power.
Spinoza’s ethical beliefs are based on the principle that all people have equal worth. He believed that a virtuous person is a loving person and that love comes in three forms: Agape, Philio, and Eros. Agape is the love of an inferior person to a superior. Philio is brotherly love, or love of equal beings. Eros is base or sexual love.