Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Spinoza Problem by Irvin D. Yalom

This is my third Irvin Yalom’s novel and I liked it. Well, to be honest, it is not so good as When Nietzsche Wept and better than Lying on the Couch . But it is good. Let’s see.

Yalom compares two really different men – Spinoza and Alfred
Rosenberg through whole story line. His characters are deep and so distant from each other yet really close. Spinoza – a Jew whose thoughts and words made his life in Jewish community really difficult and Rosenberg whose thoughts and words made lives of all Jews difficult. Rosenberg is amazed by the power Spinoza – “that Jew”-had on minds of the greatest German philosophers.

The concept of “The Spinoza problem” meant a great impact of Spinoza’s words on other people which can’t be understandable logically. Firstly his community eliminated him and then Rosenberg tried to eliminate Spinoza’s impact with all possible actions (like stealing his library). But Rosenberg’s behavior had another reason for specific interest in Spinoza’s works. He wanted to understand him but it was impossible with average mind. He tried to find the source of his wisdom but it was impossible because there was no real source – Spinoza expressed his own thoughts.  

It is sarcastically funny how, from author’s perspective, the Jews thought of themselves as special people and Nazis did the same many years later. The problem is that people don’t want to understand that they are average. That we all the same. And only our abilities to work hard on what we can do the best can make us someone bigger than average.

This is a story of two different men whose lives intersect. Two different men who had really different lives but deserved endings. And all of this with a bit of psychological insight.

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