Baruch de Spinoza
Three centuries after his death, the philosopher is enjoying a new vogue in The Netherlands, which is finally paying tribute to its native son with a series of monuments, websites, conferences and exhibitions. Everyone seems to cherry-pick his work and put their own slant on it – which might not have thrilled the philosopher himself.
Thomas Hobbes. Detail of an oil painting by John Michael Wright; in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, LondonCopyright © 1994-2010 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
The French Enlightenment philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, argued against slavery on the grounds that all persons are equal in nature. “Man is born free,” he observed in The Social Contract (1762), “and everywhere he is in chains.” (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)