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- The Ethics ; Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect ; Selected Letters
- Philosophy of Baruch Spinoza
- The ethics ; Treatise on the emendation of the intellect ; Selected letters
- Spinoza: Ethics
Bento in Hebrew, Baruch; in Latin, Benedictus Spinoza is one of the most important philosophers—and certainly the most radical—of the early modern period.
The Ethics ; Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect ; Selected Letters
Bento in Hebrew, Baruch; in Latin, Benedictus Spinoza is one of the most important philosophers—and certainly the most radical—of the early modern period. His thought combines a commitment to a number of Cartesian metaphysical and epistemological principles with elements from ancient Stoicism, Hobbes, and medieval Jewish rationalism into a nonetheless highly original system. His extremely naturalistic views on God, the world, the human being and knowledge serve to ground a moral philosophy centered on the control of the passions leading to virtue and happiness.
They also lay the foundations for a strongly democratic political thought and a deep critique of the pretensions of Scripture and sectarian religion.
Of all the philosophers of the seventeenth century, Spinoza is among the most relevant today. It is possible that Spinoza, as he made progress through his studies, was being groomed for a career as a rabbi.
But he never made it into the upper levels of the curriculum, those which included advanced study of Talmud. And then, on July 27, , Spinoza was issued the harshest writ of herem , ban or excommunication, ever pronounced by the Sephardic community of Amsterdam; it was never rescinded. No doubt he was giving utterance to just those ideas that would soon appear in his philosophical treatises. In those works, Spinoza denies the immortality of the soul; strongly rejects the notion of a transcendent, providential God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and claims that the Law i.
To all appearances, Spinoza was content finally to have an excuse for departing from the community and leaving Judaism behind; his faith and religious commitment were, by this point, gone. Within a few years, he left Amsterdam altogether.
By the time his extant correspondence begins, in , he is living in Rijnsburg, not far from Leiden. While in Rijnsburg, he worked on the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect , an essay on philosophical method, and the Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well-Being , an initial but aborted effort to lay out his metaphysical, epistemological and moral views.
By this time, he was also working on what would eventually be called the Ethics , his philosophical masterpiece. When Spinoza died in , in The Hague, he was still at work on his Political Treatise ; this was soon published by his friends along with his other unpublished writings, including a Compendium of Hebrew Grammar.
The Ethics is an ambitious and multifaceted work. It is also bold to the point of audacity, as one would expect of a systematic and unforgiving critique of the traditional philosophical and theological conceptions of God, the human being and the universe, especially as these serve as the foundation of the major organized religions and their moral and ceremonial rules.
What Spinoza intends to demonstrate in the strongest sense of that word is the truth about God, nature and especially ourselves, and the most certain and useful principles of society, religion and the good life. Despite the great deal of metaphysics, physics, anthropology and psychology that take up Parts One through Three, Spinoza took the crucial message of the work to be ethical in nature.
It consists in showing that our happiness and well-being lie not in a life enslaved to the passions and to the transitory goods we ordinarily pursue, nor in the related unreflective attachment to the superstitions that pass as religion, but rather in the life of reason.
To clarify and support these broadly ethical conclusions, however, Spinoza must first demystify the universe and show it for what it really is. This requires laying out some metaphysical foundations, the project of Part One.
From these, the first proposition necessarily follows, and every subsequent proposition can be demonstrated using only what precedes it. References to the Ethics will be by part I—V , proposition p , definition d , scholium s and corollary c. In propositions one through fifteen of Part One, Spinoza presents the basic elements of his picture of God. God is the infinite, necessarily existing that is, self-caused , unique substance of the universe. There is only one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else that is, is in God.
Proposition 2 : Two substances having different attributes have nothing in common with one another. In other words, if two substances differ in nature, then they have nothing in common. Proposition 3 : If things have nothing in common with one another, one of them cannot be the cause of the other. Proposition 4 : Two or more distinct things are distinguished from one another, either by a difference in the attributes [i.
Proposition 5 : In nature, there cannot be two or more substances of the same nature or attribute. Proposition 9 : The more reality or being each thing has, the more attributes belong to it. Proposition 10 : Each attribute of a substance must be conceived through itself. Proposition 11 : God, or a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence, necessarily exists.
But this, by proposition 7, is absurd. Therefore, God necessarily exists, q. Proposition 12 : No attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided. Proposition 13 : A substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible. This proof that God—an infinite, eternal necessary and self-caused , indivisible being—is the only substance of the universe proceeds in three simple steps. First, establish that no two substances can share an attribute or essence Ip5.
Then, prove that there is a substance with infinite attributes i. It follows, in conclusion, that the existence of that infinite substance precludes the existence of any other substance.
For if there were to be a second substance, it would have to have some attribute or essence. But since God has all possible attributes, then the attribute to be possessed by this second substance would be one of the attributes already possessed by God. But it has already been established that no two substances can have the same attribute.
Therefore, there can be, besides God, no such second substance. If God is the only substance, and by axiom 1 whatever is, is either a substance or in a substance, then everything else must be in God. As soon as this preliminary conclusion has been established, Spinoza immediately reveals the objective of his attack.
But how far they wander from the true knowledge of God, is sufficiently established by what has already been demonstrated. Much of the technical language of Part One is, to all appearances, right out of Descartes.
But even the most devoted Cartesian would have had a hard time understanding and, certainly, accepting the full import of propositions one through fifteen. Spinoza was sensitive to the strangeness of this kind of talk, not to mention the philosophical problems to which it gives rise. When a person feels pain, does it follow that the pain is ultimately just a property of God, and thus that God feels pain?
According to the traditional Judeo-Christian conception of divinity, God is a transcendent creator, a being who causes a world distinct from himself to come into being by creating it out of nothing. God produces that world by a spontaneous act of free will, and could just as easily have not created anything outside himself. The existence of the world is, thus, mathematically necessary. It is impossible that God should exist but not the world.
This does not mean that God does not cause the world to come into being freely, since nothing outside of God constrains him to bring it into existence.
But Spinoza does deny that God creates the world by some arbitrary and undetermined act of free will. God could not have done otherwise. There are no alternatives to the actual world—no other possible worlds—and there is no contingency or spontaneity within the world. Nothing could possibly have been otherwise. Everything is absolutely and necessarily determined.
Ip33 : Things could have been produced by God in no other way, and in no other order than they have been produced. There are, however, differences in the way things depend on God. An attribute is best understood as a most basic way of being, a general nature that is expressed in determinate ways by particular things.
We have knowledge of only two of these attributes: thought and extension. They include the most general principles of the universe, together governing all things in all ways. From the attribute of extension there follow the principles governing all extended objects the truths of geometry and laws governing the motion and rest of bodies the laws of physics ; from the attribute of thought, there follow laws of thought understood by commentators to be either the laws of logic or the laws of psychology.
Particular and individual things are causally more remote from God. More precisely, they are finite modes. There are two causal orders or dimensions governing the production and actions of particular things. On the other hand, each particular thing is determined to act and to be acted upon by other particular things. Thus, the actual behavior of a body in motion is a function not just of the universal laws of motion, but also of the other bodies in motion and rest surrounding it and with which it comes into contact.
It is an ambiguous phrase, since Spinoza could be read as trying either to divinize nature or to naturalize God. There are, Spinoza insists, two sides of Nature. First, there is the active, productive aspect of the universe—God and his attributes, from which all else follows. Strictly speaking, this is identical with God. There is some debate in the literature as to whether God is also to be identified with Natura naturata. Outside of Nature, there is nothing, and everything that exists is a part of Nature and is brought into being by Nature with a deterministic necessity.
Because of the necessity inherent in Nature, there is no teleology in the universe. God or Nature does not act for any ends, and things do not exist for any set purposes. God is not some goal-oriented planner who then judges things by how well they conform to his purposes. Things happen only because of Nature and its laws. People] find—both in themselves and outside themselves—many means that are very helpful in seeking their own advantage, e.
And knowing that they had found these means, not provided them for themselves, they had reason to believe that there was someone else who had prepared those means for their use. For after they considered things as means, they could not believe that the things had made themselves; but from the means they were accustomed to prepare for themselves, they had to infer that there was a ruler, or a number of rulers of nature, endowed with human freedom, who had taken care of all things for them, and made all things for their use.
And since they had never heard anything about the temperament of these rulers, they had to judge it from their own. Hence, they maintained that the Gods direct all things for the use of men in order to bind men to them and be held by men in the highest honor.
So it has happened that each of them has thought up from his own temperament different ways of worshipping God, so that God might love them above all the rest, and direct the whole of Nature according to the needs of their blind desire and insatiable greed. Thus this prejudice was changed into superstition, and struck deep roots in their minds. I, Appendix. A judging God who has plans and acts purposively is a God to be obeyed and placated.
Opportunistic preachers are then able to play on our hopes and fears in the face of such a God. They prescribe ways of acting that are calculated to avoid being punished by that God and earn his rewards. Nor does God perform miracles, since there are no, and cannot be, departures whatsoever from the necessary course of nature. This would be for God or Nature to act against itself, which is absurd.
Philosophy of Baruch Spinoza
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Spinoza, baruch: the ethics, treatise on the emendation of the intellect and selected letters, oversatt av samuel shirley, redigert, med introduksjon, av seymour feldman, hackett publishing company, cambridge With the treatise on the emendation of the intellect and selected letters. Ethics, treatise on the emendation of the intellect, selected letters, trans. Baruch spinoza, ethics; treatise on the emendation of the intellect and selected letters, trans. Seymour feldman indianapolis, in: hackett, , kindle edition, —
The ethics ; Treatise on the emendation of the intellect ; Selected letters
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Professor Shirley has provided a translation which is fluent, eminently readable, and responsive to current research into Spinoza's thought. Where a particular passage is difficult or obscure, Shirley never attempts to interpose himself between the reader and Spinoza, nor to side with one or another competing school of interpretation. This makes his translation not just an ideal introduction for the reader new to Spinoza, but also a trustworthy source of insight for the more advanced reader. Rice, Marquette University. Du kanske gillar. The Secret Rhonda Byrne Inbunden.