The Dutch Golden Age was a period of great wealth for the Dutch Republic. International trade flourished with the Netherlands East India Company (VOC). This attracted immigrants, thus also stimulating the growth of the most important ports and cities.
During this time, the 17th century, art and science flourished, as can be seen in the famous works of the Dutch masters: Rembrandt, Hals, Vermeer and Steen. And heterodox thinkers also arrived. The most iconoclastic of them all was undoubtedly Spinoza . And that’s how it changed our ideas of the natural world.
The most rebellious philosopher of the time, Baruch Spinoza , came to question whether there is an ideal form of government, what is the responsibility of the rulers towards their people, and other issues that seemed untouchable, such as the existence of God.
At the same time, Johan de Witt , a brilliant intellectual, specialist in mathematics and law, who was also a very attractive boy, took center stage. Despite coming from an aristocratic family, he was a staunch defender of republicanism. At 28, he was appointed Prime Minister of the Netherlands. De Witt longed for the country to be ruled by the idea that the successors of kings and princes were those who were born from their womb, but those who were chosen for their merits .
Those ideas were fitted with a lot of acceptance: not surprisingly, 30% of all the books published in the world were published in Amsterdam . We were, therefore, before a literate people and, in addition, with a lot of editorial freedom.
But De Witt also had opponents: on the one hand, the Orangemen , who believed that every country needed a monarch; on the other side were the orthodox Calvinists , who believed that all government needed to be founded on the Bible.
Spinoza idolized De Witt, and decided to leave his deepest philosophy to get down to work and support him with a new book for the whole public. For the first time in history, someone declares that the basis of politics should be individual freedom , also adding that democratic government was the closest to the state of nature and the most akin to said freedom. The book was published in 1670 and claimed things like that the Bible was human and full of errors.
And, like religion, the government also had to abandon that mystical halo and submit to rational, scientific and secular principles .
The impact of the play was so profound and caused so much uproar that even De Witt had to join the voices that condemned him so as not to end up committing political suicide. Yet De Witt was assassinated for putting forward such unorthodox ideas. Spinoza couldn’t believe the extent of human barbarism .
But, despite the fact that the attempt at a repulican, humanist form of government, far from allegiance had not finally penetrated, those ideas did not die completely. They originated philosophical and political resonances in half the world . A new term even appeared: "spinosista", from Spinoza, which meant subversive, extremist, dangerous, and even atheist. The Espinosistas, however, were growing in number, and for them the term was synonymous with modern, rational, lucid, free of superstitions.
It was also a type of thinking that feeds the trait of ambivalence , that is, not being sure of everything, continuing to inquire, not proposing fixed recipes for complex problems. You can learn more about this feature, as well as its advantages and disadvantages, in the following video: