Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/261

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239
HANDICRAFT.

the materials of life has received true life. What a thousandfold blessing lies in work itself, as well as in its results. One hand clasps the other, and one thought runs into another in the imagination of its effects. The whole activity of man forms one immense fraternal workshop. Here, too, however, one individual has forcibly separated from another, and as the churches had done in the kingdom of thought and feeling, so had the guilds in the handicrafts of their chosen companies. There was no legal prohibition excluding the Jews from any trade, but custom and convenience made the guild-masters exclusive and reluctant.

Again it was Descartes from whom Spinoza received the decisive impulse towards his object. Spinoza was studying the "Dioptrika" of Descartes, and there learned for the first time the law of refraction, and the first correct explanation of the rainbow. The objection raised by Huyghens, and universally shared, that Descartes had taken the law from the manuscript of Snellius, then widely circulated through Holland, and had learned the explanation of the rainbow from Antonio de Dominis and Kepler, without acknowledging either, all this appeared trivial to our young inquirer; but it disturbed him to think that deception should exist even in the domain of intellect. The otherwise enigmatical saying of the Talmud, "Whoever reveals a word or thought in the name of its author, he