Today is the anniversary of the birth of the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza, in 1632.

I tell you truly that I know next to nothing about Spinoza’s philosophies.  According to Wikipedia, he believed:

God exists only philosophically and that God was abstract and impersonal.  Spinoza’s system imparted order and unity to the tradition of radical thought, offering powerful weapons for prevailing against “received authority.” As a youth he first subscribed to Descartes’s dualistic belief that body and mind are two separate substances, but later changed his view and asserted that they were not separate, being a single identity. He contended that everything that exists in Nature (i.e., everything in the Universe) is one Reality (substance) and there is only one set of rules governing the whole of the reality which surrounds us and of which we are part. Spinoza viewed God and Nature as two names for the same reality,  namely the single substance (meaning “that which stands beneath” rather than “matter”) that is the basis of the universe and of which all lesser “entities” are actually modes or modifications, that all things are determined by Nature to exist and cause effects, and that the complex chain of cause and effect is only understood in part.

Well, that’s as may be.   But here’s my question:  In P. G. Wodehouse, the great gentleman’s personal gentleman Jeeves makes reference more than once to his own partiality to Spinoza.  (Indeed, it is Bertie’s kind-hearted but hapless attempt to buy a collection of Spinoza’s works for Jeeves that lands him in a fearful misunderstanding with Florence Cray.)  In this emphasis, is Plum trying to make some kind of philosophical point?  Or is he just tagging his character with a partiality to a particular intellectual fad of the day?

I strongly suspect the latter.  On the other hand, Plum could be pretty egg-headed when he wanted, so I am not yet prepared to dismiss the former out of hand.

(Now that I come to think of it, many books have been written analyzing Plum’s writing, but I cannot remember coming across one examining Jeeves’ philosophical make-up.  As I say, he is obviously fond of Spinoza.  Marcus Aurelius, too.  Perhaps there’s room for another study here.  (Copyright note to potential scholars – Dibs!))