THE Dutch philosopher Spinoza was one of the great thinkers of the 17th century.

He helped lay the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment, defining modern concepts of the self and man’s place in the universe.

Spinoza – known to friends as Bento – also loved drawing, however. For much of his life, he carried about with him a sketchbook. Sadly, when he died in 1677, his friends rescued letters, manuscripts and notes – but no drawings.

Novelist, essayist, screenwriter and critic Berger had long imagined finding Spinoza’s notebook, in which he might see the philosopher’s drawings alongside his writings.

So when one day a friend gave Berger a notebook of his own, he began to draw, trying to imagine himself into the philosopher’s mind, and matching the sketches to Spinoza’s musings on identity, self and our place in the world.

The result is Bento’s Sketchbook: Berger’s sketches alongside Spinoza’s musings on the nature of life and our place in it: together with a few musings of Berger’s own. The blurb describes the book as “an exploration of the practice of drawing and a meditation on how art guides our gaze to the world” – which is pretty much what you get. It is also beautifully presented and quite thought-provoking.