Born into a Jewish emigre family in Amsterdam, Spinoza was later excommunicated for his radical theological speculations. Considered by many as one of the great Rationalist thinkers of the 17th century, his work was at first condemned for its atheist and subversive nature, his reputation only restored later by critics such as Goethe and Coleridge. Spinoza was an advocate of the freedom of scientific and philosophical speculation in the face of religious and political interference. "The Virgin Philosophers Series" covers the lives and ideas of the major philosophers. Author Paul Strathern highlights the major advances in philosophy, as well as the men who conceived them and the times in which they lived. Containing quotes, insights and anecdotes, the aim of the series is to clarify the mysteries of philosophy for the general reader.