Jewish, of Portuguese parents, and born in the Netherlands, he gained fame for his pantheism, his neutral monism, and the fact that his Ethics was written out in the form of postulates and definitions, as if it were a geometry treatise. In the summer of 1656, he was excommunicated from the Jewish community for his claims (based in Descartes' desire to explain the world as a whole, mechanical system) that: God is the mechanism of nature and the universe, and the Bible is a metaphorical and allegorical work used to teach the nature of God. Following his excommunication, he adopted the first name Benedictus (the Latin equivalent of his given name, Baruch). Since the public reactions to the Theologico-Political Treatise were not favourable to Spinoza or his brand of Cartesianism, he abstained from publishing his works. The Ethics was published after his death, in the Opera postuma edited by his friends.
Known as both the "Greatest Christian" and the "Greatest Atheist", Spinoza writes that Human behaviour is fully determined, freedom being our capacity to know we are determined. So freedom is not the possibility to say "no" to what happens to us but the possibility to say "yes" and fully understand why things should necessarly happen that way.