Acosta, Uriel


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Acosta, Uriel

(o͞or`yĕl äkō`stä), or

Uriel da Costa

(dä kō`stä), c.1585–1640, Jewish rationalist, b. Oporto, Portugal. His original name was Gabriel da Costa, and his family had been converted to Roman Catholicism. When he reached manhood, he was restive in the Christian faith and persuaded his family to move to Amsterdam, where all of them returned to Judaism. In a work in 1624, he expressed rationalistic doctrines and criticized rabbinical Judaism. He was tried, imprisoned, and excommunicated. In 1633 he recanted, but soon he again offended and was excommunicated. After seven years, he once more recanted and was subjected to public humiliation. Rather than endure further trouble he committed suicide. He left an autobiographical sketch, Exemplar humanae vitae (1687, Eng. tr., Specimen of Human Life, 1695). Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow wrote a tragedy about him, Uriel Acosta.

Acosta, Uriel

 

more correctly Da Costa, Uriel (Gabriel). Born about 1585; died April 1640. Philospher and freethinker.

Acosta was born in Portugal into a Jewish family which had converted to Catholicism; in 1614 he fled to Amsterdam, where he converted to Judaism. In a series of writings, he criticized the rabbinical interpretation of the teaching of Moses and denied the immortality of the soul. In the spirit of deism, Acosta contrasted the existing “pseudoreligion” with a “natural religion” founded on reason and charity. He was twice expelled from the synagogue and, unable to endure the humiliation, ended his life by suicide. His ideas and his fate influenced the formation of Spinoza’s philosophy.

WORKS

Die Schriften ... Amsterdam-Heidelberg-London, 1922.
O smertnosti dushi chelovecheskoi i dr. proizv. Introductory essay by I. K. Luppol. Moscow, 1968. (With bibliography.)

REFERENCE

Belen’kii, M. S. Tragediia U. Akosty. Moscow, 1968.

V. SOKOLOV