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The Spinoza Problem

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,959 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
When sixteen-year-old Alfred Rosenberg is called into his headmaster’s office for anti-Semitic remarks he made during a school speech, he is forced, as punishment, to memorize passages about Spinoza from the autobiography of the German poet Goethe. Rosenberg is stunned to discover that Goethe, his idol, was a great admirer of the Jewish seventeenth-century philosopher Baru ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Basic Books (first published December 1st 2011)
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Kalliope




I should have known better.

I should have known that this would not be a book for me.

My interest was to learn more about Spinoza. Coward that I am, I thought that a semi-fictional approach to the Dutch thinker would be a smooth way to approach him. The book seemed also to offer an original angle. What would be the link between this 17C Dutch thinker, also Jewish, and a Nazi ideologue?

Dr. Yalom, (Emeritus in Psychiatry at Stanford), also seems to have a strong following of enthusiastic readers.

The
...more
Nikos Tsentemeidis
Είχα διαβάσει τον Νίτσε αρχικά και μου άρεσε πολύ. Για τον Σπινόζα και τα άλλα του βιβλία είχα διαβάσει κριτικές ότι ο Γιάλομ επαναλαμβάνεται με σκοπό την εμπορική επιτυχία. Πολύ γρήγορα καταρρίφθηκε αυτή η άποψη. Το μόνο σίγουρο είναι ότι ο Γιάλομ γράφει πολύ όμορφα, ποτέ δε βαριέσαι και περνάς πολύ ευχάριστα το χρόνο σου.

Από 'κει και πέρα, θεωρώ πως το έργο αυτό είναι καλύτερο από τον Νίτσε, ειδικά αν σε ενδιαφέρει η φιλοσοφία και συγκεκριμένα ο Επίκουρος και ο Σπινόζα. Ακόμα και στην αντίθετ
...more
Ana
This is not my first book by Yalom and it will definitely not be the last. I love his style – it's fluid, it molds on every type of subject and it somehow incorporates scientific or historical information in such a way that you don't even realize anymore which is fact and which is fiction. I learned a lot from his books and he is a man to be listened to when it comes to psychological problems or philosophic questions about life. Unlike us, the rest of the human population that reads his books, t ...more
Owlseyes
Jan 26, 2016 Owlseyes rated it really liked it

(Alfred Rosenberg talks to psychiatrist, friend Friedrich Pfister)

"I have to confess that you're the first psychiatrist I've ever met. I know nothing about your field"
"Well, for centuries, psychiatrists have primarily been diagnosticians and custodians for hospitalized psychotic, almost incurable patients, but all that has changed in the last decade. The change began with Sigmund Freud in Vienna, who invented the talking treatment called psychoanalysis , which permits us to help patients overcom
...more
Philippe Malzieu
I saw this book on GR. and I remembered the embarrassment that I had by reading it in when it had been published . To put in parallel Spinoza and the theorist anti-semite was a risky project. Spinoza seems a kind of Christ forgiving all, even the attempt of assassination. He is withdrawn as a hermit to polish glass.Rosenberg seems a mousy man neurotic between his admiration for Spinoza and his commitment Nazi. Embarrassment comes owing to the fact that the role of the bad guy is occupied by the ...more
Andrew Pessin
Dec 28, 2012 Andrew Pessin rated it it was ok
I found this initially intriguing but ultimately tedious. In fact there is NOT much of a link to go on, between Rosenberg and Spinoza; it feels like a false or inflated premise. And also, pretty much, it's a novel in which nothing happens. There's a conversation; and then another conversation; and then another conversation where they talk about the previous conversation. If you want a very light fluffy summary of some of Spinoza's views, okay; and in fact the Rosenberg character is a pretty inte ...more
Laura
Feb 17, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
It's been years since I've read any Spinoza, but that wasn't a problem here - Yalom's historical faction includes long passages where Spinoza himself explains his rational process. Told in alternating chapters, we meet Spinoza at the time of his excommunication (cherem) from the Sephardic community in Amesterdam and a young Alfred Rosenberg, ultimately Hitler's publisher and the man who stole Jewish (and other) artworks for the Reich.

So, what is the Spinoza problem? Spinoza was a Jew of Portuges
...more
Negar Mirkatouli
Aug 31, 2015 Negar Mirkatouli rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irvin-d-yalom
همه عطایایی که خدا به ما می بخشد، روزی به انتها خواهد رسید. اما محبت تا ابد باقی خواهد ماند و از بین نخواهد رفت. عشق به چیزی جاودانه و بی پایان روح را از شعف محض قوت می دهد که فارغ از هرگونه اندوهی است. به همین سبب بسیار خواستنی است و باید با همه توان خود، به جست و جوی آن برآمد. آرزو دارم روزی دنیا «بدونِ مذاهب» باشد، «دنیایی با مذهبی جهانی»، که در آن همه افراد، خردمندی خود رابرای تجربه خدا و تکریم او بکار ببرند. __مسئله اسپینوزا/ دکتر اروین یالوم/ برگردان زهرا حسینیان
Judy

I learned of this author through one of my friends on Goodreads. Yalom is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, a practicing psychiatrist, and an author of nonfiction as well as novels. The Spinoza Problem is a philosophical novel and I chose to read it as an introduction to Yalom because I admire Spinoza.

I have mentioned before, in my ranting about books and reading, my life long difficulties with studying philosophy. My only real success in this endeavor came when I read The Story of Philosop
...more
Mara
Aug 06, 2013 Mara rated it liked it
I picked this up because my mother's book club had their last meeting centered around it. She said it was a pleasant read with a nice flow so I thought I'd give it a go for a light summer read, one that wasn't the typical YA that I go for when I don't want to overcomplicate things.

Yalom is known to write novels strongly rooted in psychoanalysis, obviously originating from his background as a psychologist. The techniques used in psychoanalysis are thus easily detectable in The Spinoza Problem, es
...more
MARTI

İşte Irvin Yalom'a hayran olma sebeplerinden biri daha! Yalom, her zamanki tarzıyla tarihi kişilikleri bir araya getiriyor, tarihi gerçekliklerle kurmacayı müthiş bir beceriyle harmanlıyor ve bunu yaparken de işin içine felsefeyi, psikolojiyi, psikanalizi ustaca okuyor. Siz de notlar alarak, düşünerek ve geçmişin ve bugünün toplumunu, siyasetini, insanlarını sorgulayarak metni hayranlıkla okuyorsunuz.

İnsan sık aralıklarla bir Yalom kitabı okumalı.
Rebekah
Mar 15, 2014 Rebekah rated it it was ok
For once I'm surprised by how much I *dis*liked a book. *The Spinoza Problem* has so many of the elements that I usually adore: historical fiction drawn around real and important historical figures, settings and themes of personal significance to me, and a core political/philosophical dimension. Yet I never connected with this book.

Though it does provide an accessible introduction to Spinoza's complex and sometimes obtuse philosophy, I found its presentation so simplified that it sometimes felt
...more
Ron Charles
Among the innumerable treasures the Nazis stole from Europe during World War II was a collection of books displayed at the Spinoza Museum in Rijnsburg, Holland. Compared with the Rembrandts and Vermeers nearby, these antique volumes weren’t particularly valuable, but the Nazi officer assigned to carry out this little act of plunder said the books were of “great importance for the exploration of the Spinoza problem.”

The Spinoza problem? Was that a subset of the Jewish Question? Or was it some oth
...more
Karl
Apr 01, 2012 Karl rated it really liked it
I find Yalom's ability to breath new life into understanding past philosophers remarkable. While I enjoyed "When Nietzsche Wept" far more, it stems more from the fact that I find Nietzsche more interesting then Spinoza. His introduction of therapists to create fictional dialogue to flesh out the thoughts of different protagonists is believable and efficient.

For this particular book, his blending of Nazi racism and Spinoza's thought was fascinating. While this novel cannot, nor I imagine claim t
...more
Des
Aug 24, 2013 Des rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
Wow. Spinoza applied uncompromising rationalism to life, ethics and beliefs. Educational and riveting. I am not smart enough to read Spinoza but this book has easy prose and is a nourishing subject for any atheist/rational thinking person. Astonishing insights into and for a 17th century autodidact.
mahad
پايان بندي اين كتاب از كتاب درمان شوپنهاور خيلي بهتر بود.يالوم پيشرفت چشمگيري داشته توي اين كتاب...
جدا از موضوع و كتاب، نكته اي به نظرم ميرسه؛ خيلي عجيبه متفكر هايي كه اخرت خدا دين و خيلي چيزاي ديگه رو به چالش و سوال ميكشن درباره ي زنان چنين عقايد سنتي و دور از عقلي داشته باشن. اسپينوزا بارها خاخام هارو درباره اينكه يهود قوم برگزيده ي خداس با دلايل عقلي زير سوال ميبره اما هيچوقت حتا به اين مسئله فكرم نميكنه كه شايد اين منطق كه "چون تاريخ هيچوقت سلطه ي قدرت زن بر مرد رو نديده ،پس زن ضعيفتره و چون
...more
Paolo
Dec 07, 2014 Paolo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
L'autore è uno psicanalista che - mi par di capire - è appassionato di filosofia.

Le storie parallele del saggissimo Spinoza, filosofo della tolleranza e della laicità che sceglie la solitudine ed il non appartenere ad alcuna religione o chiesa come unica condizione veramente coerente e del gerarca nazista Rosemberg, che dà una patina "culturale" alle più abbiette teorie antisemite e razziste in genere e pur essendo umanamente una nullità, ottiene successo e popolarità.

Il legame - flebile da esse
...more
Noce
Oct 10, 2012 Noce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Siamo uomini o spugne?

Siamo in Estonia. L’adolescente Alfred Rosenberg è visibilmente sconvolto. Per due ragioni: una, perché è stato aspramente rimproverato dal preside ebreo , a cui è giunta notizia di un suo discorso antisemita, l’altra perché ha scoperto che Goethe, il sommo vate tedesco, nutre profonda ammirazione per Spinoza, filosofo ebreo del ‘600. Per il piccolo Rosenberg, venire a capo di questo Cubo di Rubik, e scoprire come le parole di Spinoza possano essere state “sedativo” per le
...more
Leonardo
Aug 10, 2013 Leonardo rated it really liked it
Novamente Irvin Yalom utiliza personagens e alguns fatos reais ocorridos com eles para traçar um perfil psicanalítico de cada um. O livro traz de maneira simples a filosofia de Spinoza (sem os axiomas de Ética). Para entender a força da filosofia de Spinoza extremamente moderna para sua época, Irvin narra os hábitos do século 17, principalmente em Amsterdam, refúgio dos judeus que fugiram da Inquisição.

Ao mesmo tempo, o autor apresenta aquele por detrás do desenvolvimento da filosofia nazista: A
...more
Seyed Pourya Salehi
این حل کردن پازل های تاریخی، این نگاه نو به فلسفه که تسکین دهنده ی همه افکار ِ فلسفی ِ آزاردهنده ی سالهای اخیرم است...این استعداد ِ عجیب در فلسفیدن ِ آمیخته با رواندرمانی که براستی نوعی تسامح با طبیعت(اسپینوزایی) در فلسفه را به نمایش میگذارد.... این نویسنده ی بی نظیر
نخوانده ی این کتاب، خواننده ای ناقص است
Ehsan Jafarkhani
Jun 26, 2015 Ehsan Jafarkhani rated it it was amazing
کتاب مسئله اسپینوزا کتابی از اروین یالوم هست که خانم زهرا حسینیان آن رو ترجمه و انتشارات ترانه چاپ کرده است. همانطور که از اسم کتاب برمیاد در این رمان دکتر یالوم قصد داشته به یکی دیگر از فیلسوفان بزرگ تاریخ در غالب یک رمان بپردازد همانطور که پیش از این در خصوص نیچه و شوپنهاور نیز این کار را کرده بود. در این کتاب بر اساس یک تجربه شخصی نویسنده به طور خیلی جالب و عجیب دو شخص از دو قرن متفاوت یکی اسپینوزا از قرن هفدهم و دیگر آلفرد روزنبرگ( تئوریسین حزب نازی) از قرن بیستم به نوعی به یکدیگر ارتباط داد ...more
Stephen Durrant
Jul 30, 2014 Stephen Durrant rated it liked it
Historical novels are a challenge to any writer, and the challenge gets all the larger when such novels are also novels of ideas. That is the case here. Irving Yalom, who is almost always interesting to read, must get the main characters, in this case Bernard Spinoza and the Nazi war criminal and "theoretician of anti-Semism, Alfred Rosenberg, to expound their ideas. To do so, he must create ancillary characters who are mainly there to get the main characters to speak. This can be quite awkward, ...more
Carolyn
A fine intellectual novel that brought back the bit I remember about Spinoza from college and added to it. Alternating chapters deal with Spinoza's life and the life of Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler's primary ideologue dealing with racial purity and the "Jewish problem." While educating himself, Rosenberg became fascinated and deeply impressed with Spinoza's thought, and plagued by the conflict created in his mind by these great ideas springing from a Jew. He tried but never succeeded into resolving ...more
Yasemin
Jan 21, 2016 Yasemin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yabancı-roman
Roman, Irvin Yalom'un her zaman başardığı gibi bilmediğim, tanımadığım bir filozofa başlama sebebi teşkil ediyor. Spinoza ve bir başka döneme geçişle Nazi Subayı arasındaki kurgu oldukça sürükleyiciydi. Spinoza hakkında yanlış bilinen ve bilinmesi gerekenleri roman kurgusunda aktarırken bir yandan da olayların içinde kayboluyorsunuz.
Lionne
Feb 05, 2013 Lionne rated it it was amazing
I immensely enjoyed this book. The writing is in sync with the topic of the book, which is something I never experienced before. Spinoza is portrayed as a person who puts reason on the foreground in every aspect of his life. While some doubt the truth value of this (we do not know if Spinoza actually resembled his philosophy in every aspect) I enjoyed it because this way, Spinoza and his search for the unity of everything in nature as well as his rational way of arguing shines through the entire ...more
Fateme Shafaei
Jul 24, 2015 Fateme Shafaei rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
شخصیت تقدیر است
آینده با آنچه در گذشته انجام شده است شکل میگیرد, با شکل بندی های فیزیکی و روانشناختی ما
ترس ها, علایق و هدفهایمان, فطرتمان و عشق به خودمان و یدگاهمان درباره دیگران.
. . .
عقل از پس احساس برنمی آید
فقط احساسی قوی می تواند حریف یک احساس شود
کار من مشخص است:
باید یاد گیرم عقل را به احساس تبدیل کنم

Violeta
Jul 25, 2012 Violeta rated it it was ok
This book is more about the problem between "the God's chosen people" and "the self proclaimed superior race" than the Spinoza problem. However, Spinoza does have a problem. His denial of the spirit world and his idea that God is Nature is probably not everyone's cup of tea. In short, it is a mixture of historical facts and fiction albeit unsuccessful so Yalom should write about what he knows better and that probably being psychoanalysis.
Cameron
Jun 30, 2015 Cameron rated it it was amazing
Well I have to continue my designation as being a Yalom fan, the guru of group therapy turned novelist continues to impress. This book has been on my shelf for a few years now and my summer break seemed like a good time to explore. Yalom has authored a few books that focus on one of his passions, the philosophers. Spinoza is among those that Yalom admires and based on an interesting encounter that he had on a trip the seed was planted for another story telling adventure where Yalom wraps history ...more
Soshyans Varahram
Aug 31, 2015 Soshyans Varahram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتابی خوب برای همه ی کسایی که: داستان دوست دارند/ روانشناسی دوست دارند/ تاریخ دوست دارند/ فلسفه دوست دارند. ...more
BeaBooks
Jul 25, 2015 BeaBooks rated it it was amazing
Spinoza is one of the most important philosophers in the history and a jew. His revolution was huge and it was not well accepted during his own time.
Rosenberg is a very important philosopher as well (he is in fact the brain behind Hitler's thinking) but is obsessed with Spinoza.

Yalom tells their stories, which are somehow similar. This one of those books you cannot stop reading, and yet it is very deep, it explains the souls of the two main characters as well as giving a hint of their philosop
...more
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Irvin David Yalom, M.D., is an author of fiction and nonfiction, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, an existentialist, and accomplished psychotherapist.
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“If Epicurus were speaking to you at this moment, he would urge you to simplify life. Here's how he might put it if he were standing here today : " Lads,your needs are few, they are easily attained, and any necessary suffering can be easily tolerated. Don't complicate your life with such trivial goals as riches and fame: they are the enemy of ATARAXIA. Fame,for example,consist of the opinions of
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“You will search the world over and not find a nonsuperstitious community. As long as there is ignorance, there will be adherence to superstition. Dispelling ignorance is the only solution. That is why I teach.” 28 likes
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