The aim of the talk was to explore the rise of Spinozism in the late 18th century from different perspectives. Dr. Sánchez de León provided a general introduction to the topic by describing the shift in the understanding and appreciation of Spinoza’s thought that took place in Germany in the second half of the 18th century. Prior to this shift, the prevailing perception of Spinoza was that he was an atheist and an enemy of religion. At some point, this negative viewpoint was replaced by a new one that presented Spinoza as a philosophical hero and a champion of true religiosity. Afterwards, Prof. Melamed examined Salomon Maimon’s (1753 – 1800) account on the emergence of Hasidism in Eastern Europe. Maimon was one of the first thinkers that exculpated Spinoza of the accusation of atheism. He then coined the expression ‘acosmism’ – i.e. denial of the world in favor of God’s existence – to describe Spinoza’s thought and portrayed Hasidism as a form of Spinozism. This suggests the surprising possibility that Hasidism might have – via Maimon's reports – played an essential role in the emergence of German Idealism.
The text of Prof.Melamed's lecture is accessible here.