BARUCH DE SPINOZA (1632-1677)

Life
Baruch de Spinoza was born in a Jewish family in Amsterdam who migrated from Portugal.
His ancestors (his father and grandfather were Rabbis) and he was expected to become a Rabbi and was educated for this purpose.
But
He could not accept the traditional Judaic theology which Baruch found against reason and rational truths.
Spinoza was excommunicated from the Jewish community and lived alone all his life among the enlightened Protestants. He suffered from tuberculosis like Descartes.
Baruch de Spinoza attempted to improve Descartes philosophy
by mathematically axiomatize philosophical thought into a coherent system (starting definitions, axioms, postulates, theorems with their demonstrations)
= more geometrico (in the geometrical manner)
He preferred solitude to being entangled into a political turmoil and disturbed.
Making his living by polishing lenses,
Baruch de Spinoza pursued his philosophy independently of any secular, religious influences.
Later in his years, he found quite a few followers and admirers who intellectually surrounded him.
He died in the Hague.

Works
1. Descartes principium philosophiae Pars I et II.
more geometrico demonstratae 1663
(Descartes' principle of philosophy demonstrated in the geometrical manner)
Appendix: cogitata metaphyica.
(metaphysical thoughts)

2. Tractatus theologico-politicus
(The freedom of faith and the right of criticizing the Bibles)

3. Ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata (intended to be published in 1675)
(Ethics, ordered in the geometric demonstrations)
de deo (On God)
de natura et origine mentis (On nature and the origin of mind)\
de servitute humana, seu de affectum viribus
(On the subordination of the human or the power of affections)
de potentia intellectus, seu de libertate humana
(On the power of intellect or on the liberation of the humans)
4. Tractatus de intellectus emendatione
(The Tractatus on the improvement of intellect)
5. Tractatus politicus
(The Political Tractatus)
6. Tractatus brevis de deo et humane eius que felicitate ca. 1659
(The Brief Tractatus on God, humans and their happiness--notes for Ethics)

Philosophy
Baruch de Spinoza was influenced by Descartes, Cabala, Maimonides (1190) and Giordano Bruno.

The Cartesian influences
a) Rationalism - truth be attained by pure thought (pure reason) alone
more geometrico (in the geometric manner)
b) the concepts of Substance, dualism of Mind and Matter
c) the mechanical theory of nature (which was extended even to mind!)

= Spinoza's philosophy may be characterized as a radicalization of Descartes thoughts.

Everything is to be ordered and demonstrated in the geometrical manner.
= more geometrico
deinitio
axioma, postulatum
propositio
demonstration

corollarium
scholarum (explanation of demonstration)

Spinoza agreed with Occasionalism in that
there exists no mutual influence between Mind & Matter.
Mind and Matter are two attributes of the Same Substance = God.
two aspects of One Substance

The Mechanistic Theory is extended beyond the limits of nature to spirit itself.

Necessity = Everything is and happens necessarily.

Since Mind and Matter are no longer viewed as substances by Spinoza
are two attributes of the Substance (=God),

God (The Only Substance) became the center of all philosophical investigations again.
Compare this to Descartes' God who even looks like having the secondary position in his metaphysics.

This may be attributed to the Jewish Cabala's influences (Philon) and Plotinus (Neo-Platonist)

Spinoza's philosophy is an explicit pantheism
(=the metaphysical doctrine holding that everything is God)
is the mechanistic theory (which attempts to explain everything necessarily)

1) Spinoza's Concept of Substance = One and Infinite
(which means having no cause other than Itself).
Spinoza interprets Substance as absolutely independent
the absolute Independence = no limit = Infinity = Self(-caused) cause (causa sui)
therefore,
the substance cannot be finite (finite = has limits = dependent on God for its cause)
"deus (God) est ens absolute infinitum sive substantia!"

"per substantiam intelligo id, quod se est, per se concipitur, hoc est id, cuius conceptus no indieat conceptu alterius sei, a quo formali debeat." (Definitio 3)

Everything (else than God) is, happens and results from God necessarily just like
a mathematical truth.
This is neither "emanation" (Plotinus)
nor "creation" (the traditional theology)

2) "deus est omnium rerum causa immanens, non vero transiens." (I. Proposition 18)
(God is the Immanent Cause of all things, never truly transcendent from them.)

3) God's action and deed cannot be forced from outside,
since there exists nothing outside of God.

God is cause sui (=the Self-caused Cause) who caused Himself to exist.

Freedom = God's Essence develops Itself.
God acts in accordance with His Own Law or
with The Law of His Essence!

Freedom and (Inner) Necessity are one and the same
in God, therefore,
in everything else, too.
In Spinoza's system of philosophy,
There is no place for Final Cause or Purpose.
For God cannot be made dependent upon Purpose or Final Cause.

"per causa sui intelligo, cuius essentia involvit existendiam: sive id, cuius natura non potest concipi nisi existens." (Definitio 1)

This definition of Causa Sui (Self-Caused Cause) is no other than what St. Anselm conceived of God as and thereby attempted to demonstrate the Existence of God by the Ontological Proof.

When the being (=existence) of a thing derives from its essence, this entity is eternal. (definitio 8)

4) The Infinite Substance's relation to the finite creatures and individuals.

God (Infinite Substance) ‹ the finite creatures

Independent ‹ dependent
Action ‹ passion
One ‹ many
Total ‹ parts
Universal ‹ particular

Absolute Affirmation ‹ negation (determination)

"determinatio negatio est." (epist. 50.41)
God = a) Substance, One and Infinite
b) God is nature
c) Self-caused Cause (Freedom and Necessity are one and the same)
d) Absolute Indeterminate Being

Therefore,
God = nature =substance

5) Attributes

The Substance can only be known through Its attributes ( this is the same as Descartes').

"Per attributum intelligo id, quod intellectus de substantia percipit, tanquem eiusdem essentiam constituens." (II definitio 4)
(By the accidence I understand that which intellect comprehend the substance as long as it constitutes the essence.)

Substance = absolutely Infinite
Attributes = in suo genere (in their genera) infinite

A) There have been controversies between the two interpretations regarding their number
1) God's attributes are infinite not only in quality, but also in quantity,
because God is indeed infinite. = There are infinite number of attributes
in God
Only Two attributes of them are known to us. The human intellect can only recognize that which are to be found in themselves
2) God's attributes are only two which are knowable to us and no more.

B) There have been controversies between the two interpretations regarding the ontological status of the Two Attributes
1) These two attributes exist only in relation to (or in) our cognition and appear as the
necessary forms of our cognition (thus, in themselves they are nothing.)

2) These Two Attributes are real characteristics (i.e., the parts of God Essence) and do exist apart from our cognition.

Spinoza's philosophy is a clear statement of Monism.
(The metaphysical doctrine asserting that everything is One.)

6) Modi

"Per modum intelligo substantiae affectiones, sive id, quod in alio est, per quod etiam concipitur." (II definitio 5)

Finite beings are modi of the Infinite Substance = God.

finite = determinatio = negatio
in other words,
The individual creatures are modi
= transitory, "accidental" conditions
(= affectiones) of God.
The existence of these creatures are only conceivable in terms of God's existence.

"Quidquid est, in Deo ist, et nihil sine Deo esse neque concipi potest." (I, Prop. 15)


Modi
those of extension ‹ motion and standstill (They are the most important.)

those of thinking ‹ intellect and volition (They are the most important.)

God in Himself transcends the modi!

The so-called natura naturata (the nature created by God) are the totality of the modi.

Finite beings can become non-being. (epist.l 29)
or
the accidence of the finite beings consists in this very fact.

Every fact or every event in this finite universe is totally determined causally and its caused connection goes farther necessarily. (I prop. 28)

Therefore,
There exists no so-called chance or accidental being in the true sense.

In the universe, there exist two causal connections which are absolutely necessary
1) in extension
2) in thinking
They are parallel
One and the same causality is viewed from two different perspectives.
(III prop. 7)

"Ordo et connexio idealum idem est ac ordo et connexio rerum."

This may be termed as the psycho-physical parallelism.
Mechanism = Pantheism.

The remarkable thing is
Spirit or Mind becomes weaker in significance.
Here is a possibility to consider Spinoza to be a modern forerunner of Materialism.

7) Anthropology

The human mind is the idea of his/her body. (confer the above.)

Mens (Mind)
Idea corporis (= the idea of body)
Idea ideae corporis = idea mentis (=the idea of the idea of body = the idea of mind)

Spinoza distinguished appearance and reality

appearance ‹ corresponds ‹ imagination (with inadequate ideas)
confused and obscure
because imagination does not know the real cause of the ideas.
reality ‹ corresponds ‹ intellect (with adequate ideas)
reason = common notion
intuitive knowledge = axioms (God and His attributes)

Universal ideas are more abstract
they are more inadequate and confused.

Error appears, however,
only when we perceive those inadequate ideas as adequate.
They themselves are not error or falsehood.

The identity of mind and body
implies no freedom of will (epist. 62)

The Theory of Passion ( & Affection)
depends greatly on Descartes' ideas.
However,
Spinoza criticized Descartes in his theory of Free Will.

We ought to study passion like we do observe line, plane and solid!

According to Spinoza,
Everything has the power to preserve itself = conatus

This Conatus is divided into two faculty,
1) Volition = only concerns itself with Mind
2) Appetite = concerns itself with Mind and body
Cupidity (desire) = the appetite accompanied by consciousness. (III prop 9 schol.)

Something is judged good, because one desires and has appetite for it.
and Not the reverse.

The Primitive Passions
cupiditas (desire)
laetista (joy)
tristista (sorrow)
(III prop. Schol.)
Spinoza reduced Descartes' 6 passions to these 3.

Love (amor) we feel to something eternal which gives us joy (laetista).
Hate (odium) we fell to something which gives us sorrow (tristitia).

Fortitude is distinguished from Passion

This fortitude is the basis for Spinoza's Ethics.

Fortitude = positive strong emotion
animosity = fortitude of rational conatus for oneself
generosity = fortitude of helping others

Practical Philosophy

Here,
Perfection = reality = activity
the more active ‹ more real ‹ more perfect

to be active = to have an adequate cause both for the inside and the outside of oneself.

Our mind is active, when we have an adequate idea.

The identity of volition and intellect
"Voluntas et intellectus unum et idem sund." (II prop. 49 coro.)
(Will and intellect are one and the same.)

All our practical activities are reducible to our cognitive activities.

Passion ‹ cupidity (desire) ‹ imagination ‹ dealing with finite objects

Fortitude ‹ volition (will) ‹ intellect ‹ having an Intuition of God
= the Infinite Objects

The power (potentia) of our intellect = genuine liberty
The more active in our intellect we are, the lesser we are to be enslaved by our passion by recognizing adequately ideas (clearly and distinctly).

To recognize the ideas adequately means to recognize this in relation to the causal connection,
in absolute necessity,
i.e., as modi of God.

"Per virtutem et potentia idem intelligo." (IV def. 8 prop 20)
(by virtue and power I understand the same.)

Here we see the synthesis of Socratic identification of virtue with knowledge and Bacon's identification of knowledge with power.
For Spinoza
Virtue = Power = Knowledge

Thus, to master one's passions is accomplished
by having adequate cognition.
= thinking in connection with God
= making our mind more perfect
= having joy with God
= loving God.