I delved into “Spinoza and Spinozism” by Stuart Hampshire while sitting at this beautiful café at the heart of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany. This museum is one of my top hang outs in the city; it was here that I discovered Albrecht Dürer’s historic self portrait created in 1500, I admired the subtle golden rain against the most enchanting blue in Jan Gossaert’s masterpiece “Danae”. And I keep discovering more details and artists with each new visit.
About the book:
“Spinoza and Spinozism” was my first encounter with this mysterious 17th century philosopher. My keen interest in him was born when I read the novel “The Spinoza Problem”; his ideas about life and religion, as explained by Irvin Yalom, made an impression on me. Searching for a comprehensive introduction to his work, I discovered Stuart Hampshire’s book and I was compensated. It didn’t only explain the fundamentals of „Ethics” (Spinoza’s most important work) but it also set in motion the “domino effect”, as it happens with every book I read. It sparked an interest for other philosophers such as Kant and Leibniz and books such as “Elements” by Euklides.
A friend once told me that you don’t need to have a background before reading anything, you just go into it, “devour” knowledge, read whatever catches your attention without needing to justify the reasons behind it to yourself. At some point, all this knowledge grows into you and you shape your own opinions and interpretations of art/music/cinema etc. As the British scholar Peter Green mentioned in an interview: “I’d read all of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King by the time I was six. Didn’t understand half of it, but the noise was magical.”
This is what I do. I enjoy this “noise”. I won’t pretend to be an expert on philosophy by suggesting you to read this book. It helped my own personal journey into Spinoza’s world and I think it can do the same for anyone who is interested.
About the Café:
Café Klenze truly does justice to the museum’s elegant and grandiose architecture. It’s a continuation or preparation of your visit to the Alte Pinakothek. Its wooden chairs, Victorian style decoration and comfortable sofas provide the perfect atmosphere for relaxation and reading.
You will always find a quiet spot here, it’s never really full because people will normally come for a quick coffee after visiting the museum. However, if you seek privacy you can take a seat at the far end where you will only be disturbed by the waitress bringing you the delicious pumpkin & ginger soup (see picture above).
Address: Barerstrasse 27, 80333, Munich, Germany
Opening times: Mon: closed/ Tue: 10:00 – 20:00/ Wed-Sun: 10:00 – 18:00 (Sunday: entry costs €1)
Food/drinks: bit pricey overall but the warm dishes are worth it / Great variety of cakes / Good quality coffee. Breakfast served until 15:00.
Ambient Noise: very low, it’s easy to concentrate on reading.