THE PURPOSE OF THE STATE IS FREEDOM
On 24 November 2008, Amsterdam’s Mayor Job Cohen and Cultural Councillor Carolien Gehrels unveiled a monument near
the City Hall on the Zwanenburgwal, where the house in which Spinoza was born once stood. By commissioning to make a sculpture in honor of Baruch de Spinoza (later in life he called himself Benedictus de Spinoza) the Spinoza Monument Foundation wished to pay homage to one of the greatest thinkers of the 17th century and one of the most important cultural innovators in the history of mankind.
Spinoza’s body of thought emphatically shows us the importance of the freedom of the individual, and seems more current
than ever in this day and age. His views on tolerance and freedom of religion can still serve as fundamental principals for our constantly changing society – NOW, but most assuredly also in the future.With the great reassessment of Spinoza’s philosophical ideas currently taking place, one could almost speak of the great
LOVE some aficionados have for Spinoza. That may sound slightly pathetic, but Love, according to Spinoza’s own ‘definitions of the passions’, is ‘joy coupled with an awareness of the outward cause’.Particularly in these times, the ‘outward cause’ of Spinoza’s views must be ardently expressed. However, words are inconceivable nowadays without images. This need for images leads to our ‘outward need’ to capture Spinoza in a sculpture and solidify his philosophical opinions in a physical commemoration to his person.
The figure of Spinoza, grand yet modest, stands on a pedestal that is placed on an elliptical platform. The sculpture is by the
artist Nicolas Dings, who in an inimitable manner has given the person of Spinoza a new, contemporary cloak that is decorated with birds and flowers which refer to the cultural diversity of the city. As a result, Dings’ artwork is not only a recognizable historical statue, but also a stimulating monument in the midst of contemporary society.Inspired by the citation from Spinoza carved on the monument, ‘The purpose of the state is freedom’, the actualization of
the sculpture proceeded almost perfectly smoothly, in a very short period of time and with excellent collaboration. The Spinoza Monument Foundation would especially like to extend its heartfelt thanks to the artist; to the Amsterdam Fund
For the Arts, who made the actualization of the monument possible through its generous subsidy; to the city of Amsterdam for its flexible collaboration; and to all of the other parties who were so devoted; and who can say it better than Spinoza himself:
‘Gratitude or thankfulness is love’s desire or endeavor to do good to someone who has done us a service out of an equal
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