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PostSubject: Spinoza Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:46 pm




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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Tue Feb 10, 2015 12:48 pm



-


Conatus

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:01 pm

The evolution of the memetic contagion of Nihilism, in the west, beginning with Judaism which brought it in from the east where it had morphed into Buddhism, combining it with Egyptian attitudes towards mortality, must go through Jesus, the symbol of the merger of Judaism with parts of Hellenism to produce Christianity, and Mohammed, as the same process repeated eastward, by combining it with Zoroastrianism...and then it must proceed onward, through the ages, and go through Spinoza, and then Marx, up to the present day.

The history of defending Being, though it be given a different name: one, God, substance, quanta, monad, nil, here, now, self...etc.

The entire effort trying to use words, detached from the perceived - noumenon with no reference to phenomena - so as to defend absolute ONE.
The singularity is like a black hole: it sucks light out of existence, leaving a vast gaping hole of black, where worship begins by self-hatred, to seek salvation.


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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:59 pm

Spinoza wrote:
Joy is the passion by which the Mind passes to a greater perfection; and sadness, the passion by which it passes to a lesser perfection." [IIIp11s, my emphasis]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:59 pm

Netzsche wrote:
Psychology of metaphysics: the influence of timidity.

That which has been feared the most, the cause of the most powerful Suffering (lust to rule, sex, etc.), has been treated by men with the greatest amount of hostility and eliminated from the
"true" world. Thus they have eliminated the affects one by one - posited God as the antithesis of evil, that is, placed reality in the negation of the desires and affects (i.e., in nothingness).
In the same way, they have hated the irrational, the arbitrary, tbe accidental (as the causes of immeasurable physical suffering). As a consequence, they negated this element in being-in-itself and conceived it as absolute "rationality" and "purposiveness."
In the same way, they have feared change, transitoriness: this expresses a straitened soul, full of mistrust and evil experiences (the case of Spinoza: an opposite kind of man would account
change a stimulus).
A creature overloaded and playing with force would call precisely the affects, irrationality, and change good in a eudaemonistic sense, together with their consequences: danger, contrast, perishing, etc." [WTP, 576]

Nietzsche wrote:
"Against the value of that which remains eternally the same (vide Spinoza's naivete; Descartes' also), the values of the briefest and most transient, the seductive flash of gold on the belly of the serpent vita -" [WTP, 577]

Nietzsche wrote:
Moral values even in theory of knowledge:

trust in reason-why not mistrust?
the "true world" is supposed to be the good world-why? appearance, change, contradiction, struggle devalued as immoral;

desire for a world in which these things are missing;

the transcendental world invented, in order that a place remains for "moral freedom" (in Kant);

dialectic a way to virtue (in Plato and Socrates: evidently because Sophistry counted as the way to immorality);

time and space ideal: consequently "unity" in the essence of things; consequently no "sin", no evil, no imperfection - a justification of God;

Epicurus denied the possibility of knowledge, in order to retain moral (or hedonistic) values as the highest values. Augustine, later Pascal ("corrupted reason"), did the same for the benefit of Christian values;

Descartes' contempt for everything that changes; also that of Spinoza." [WTP, 578]

Nietzsche wrote:
""Attraction" and "repulsion" in a purely mechanistic sense
are complete fictions: a word. We cannot think of an attraction divorced from an intention.- The wilLto take possession of a thing or to defend oneself against it and repel it-that, we "under- stand": that would be an interpretation of which we could make use.
In short: the psychological necessity for a belief in causality lies in the inconceivability of an event divorced from intent; by which naturally nothing is said concerning truth or untruth (the justification of such a belief)! The belief in causae'T falls with the belief in tele" (against Spinoza and his causalism)." [WTP, 627]

Nietzsche wrote:
"A condition once achieved would seem to be obliged to preserve itself if there were not in it a capacity for desiring not to preserve itself- Spinoza's law of "self-preservation" ought really to put a stop to change: but this law is false, the opposite is true. It can be shown most clearly that every living thing does everything it can not to preserve itself but to become more-" [WTP, 688]

Nietzsche wrote:
"If the world had a goal, it must have been reached. If there were for it some unintended final state, this also must have been reached. If it were in any way capable of a pausing and becoming fixed, of "being," if in the whole course of its becoming it possessed even for a moment this capability of "being," then all becoming would long since have come to an end, along with all thinking, all "spirit." The fact of "spirit" as a form of becoming proves that the world has no goal, no final state, and is incapable of being.

The old habit, however, of associating a goal with every event and a guiding, creative God with the world, is so power- ful that it requires an effort for a thinker not to fall into thinking of the very aimlessness of the world as intended. This notion- that the world intentionally avoids a goal and even knows artifices for keeping itself from entering into a circular course-must occur to all those who would like to force on the world the ability for eternal novelty, i.e., on a finite, definite, unchangeable force of constant size, such as the world is, the miraculous power of infinite novelty in its forms and states. The world, even if it is no longer a god, is still supposed to be capable of the divine power of creation, the power of infinite transformations; it is supposed to consciously prevent itself from returning to any of its old forms; it is supposed to possess not only the intention but the means of avoiding any repetition; to that end, it is supposed to control every one of its movements at every moment so as to escape goals, final states, repetitions-and whatever else may follow from such an unforgiveably insane way of thinking and desiring. It is still the old religious way of thinking and desiring, a kind of longing to believe that in some way the world is after all like the old beloved, infinite, boundlessly creative God-that in some way "the old God stilllives"-that longing of Spinoza which was expressed in the words ((deus sive natura"l0'.5 (he even felt Unatura sive deus").

What, then, is the law and belief with which the decisive change, the recently attained preponderance of the scientific spirit over the religious, God-inventing spirit, is most clearly formulated? Is it not: the world, as force, may not be thought of as unlimited, for it cannot be so thought of; we forbid ourselves the concept of an infinite force as incompatible with the concept "force." Thus -the world also lacks the capacity for eternal novelty." [WTP, 1062]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:00 pm

Spinoza wrote:
"The wise man...is hardly troubled in spirit, but being, by a certain eternal necessity conscious of himself, and of God, and of things, he never ceases to be, but always possesses true peace of mind." [EVp42s]

Nietzsche wrote:
"Nature at last needs the saint, in whom the ego is completely melted away and whose life of suffering is no longer felt as his own life – or is hardly so felt – but as a profound feeling of oneness and identity with all living things..." [UM, Schopenhauer as Educator]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:01 pm

Quote :
"The conatus is really central Spinoza’s telling of the world, though perhaps not with the kind of centrality that Schopenhauer would wish. Each and everything in existence has conatus, a striving, which as Spinoza describes it makes up something of its essence as a thing in existence. With almost Neitzschean Will to Power force (sans the implicit normalization of domination), each thing does all it it can to persist, pursuing its Joys, avoiding its sadnesses. But because of modal essences (the essence of “real objects” in Graham’s metaphysics) do not have existence predicated of them, that is, because they are not their own cause of existence, they relie upon the external causes of other things, and concordantly those conatuses as well. So existence becomes a mixed rationalizing, but still Machiavellian game of power negotions with other conatus-driven bodies and minds.

But, this is not a Hobbesian world where there is a primal state of war, “all against all,” which human beings rise up out of by virtue of a mythical contract, because a conatus that has come into existence has done so already in harmony with a cooperation of a mutuality of causes, it is dependent in its finite existence. You can see this same metaphysical fact in Spinoza’s political theory, and the concept that the human affects are organized through the imagination of others. Even strife among human beings, their most powerful negative projections upon each other, are already occurring in a social field wherein each person sees this enemy in some fundamental way “the same” as him (if only the same as a competitor).

For this reason, much as what happens on the metaphysical level of the dependency of strivings upon other strivings, this happens on the social level, a mutuality of conception both supports destructive warrings, but also of course the capacity to find agreement and align."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:01 pm

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"Mason sees the difference between Spinoza and Leibniz as one of choosing to emphasize the causes of things in the case of Spinoza and the truth of propositions in the case of Leibniz. A consequence of this, as Mason sees it, is that ‘Spinoza had no interest in explaining the sense of what might be said or thought. His approach to modality was concerned with existence, not with the meaning or truth of statements of possibility or necessity.’ To rephrase this difference in terms I used in an earlier post (here), Spinoza is indeed interested in the infinite, but the infinite enjoyment and power of existing, whereas Leibniz is interested in the infinite analysis that will justify the truth of contingent or necessary propositions. For Spinoza, a consequence of his approach is that rather than trouble over a logical analysis to demonstrate the truth of a proposition, he argues in the Theological-Political Treatise that ‘we ought to define and explain things through their proximate causes. Generalizations about fate and the interconnection of causes can be of no service to us in forming or ordering our thoughts concerning particular things.’ In other words, once we have understood the proximate cause of a thing, we have understood the thing. Nothing more is needed. For Leibniz, by contrast, to understand why Adam sinned, for example, it is not sufficient to understand the proximate causes of this sin, for if God willfully created the best of all possible worlds then he created an Adam who sinned. However, for Leibniz God did not create a sinning Adam but an infinite series within which Adam sinned, and a series of which an infinite analysis (that only God can do) would reveal that it is the best of all possible series (or worlds) that God could have created, including series where Adam does not sin. Although it might not initially seem so, Mason arges that the Leibnizian choice in favor of an analysis of the relationship of true propositions to reality rather than an analysis of proximate causes has become the road most travelled by logicians. This approach is not without its problems. In particular, as Mason shows, the Leibnizian problem of accounting for the relationship between the truths of propositions and concepts and reality ‘became an openly epistemological problem: how are the judgments that I make possible?’ (Before Logic, 64). From Kant onwards the attempts to resolve this problem took a decidedly subjectivist turn – viz. Kant’s Copernican Revolution. This is not to say that Leibniz is wrong and Spinoza right. As Mason goes on to argue, ‘For Spinoza there seems to have been no doubt that the basis for his form of necessity was in the things we talk about, and not in the way in which we talk about things. That, too, left large questions of epistemology, but in a different direction.’ (65). Namely, since the mind is the idea of the body, and a body that is a mode of the infinite power and enjoyment of existing, then this mind already contains within itself God’s causal power (our body is nothing less than a modification of God’s power). As a result, for Spinoza, ‘most controversies arise from this, that men do not correctly express what is in their mind.’ (E II 47 schol). The problem is thus not one of determining how our judgments are possible, and the various forms they can take, but instead it becomes the problem of knowing what a body can do, its powers and capacities, and in understanding this we understand the thing without recourse to logical relations and the orderings of our thoughts and propositions. As Donald Davidson argued, and as Mason cites, ‘it is sentences (or statements or propositions), or the relations between them, that are properly classified as contingent or logical; if causal relations are “in nature,” it makes no sense to classify them as logical or contingent.’ (“Causal Relations” in Essays on Actions and Events).

This choice between Spinoza or Leibniz, or their intellectual mitosis (as I discuss this here) between the things we talk about (Spinoza) or the way we talk about things (Leibniz), is itself symptomatic of a deeper, shared problem—namely, the problem of reconciling the finite with the infinite. For Spinoza, as I discussed in earlier posts (here, here, and here), this emerges as a decidedly ethical problem for individuals. More precisely, Spinoza sets out in his Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect (TIE) ‘to enquire whether there existed a true good, one which was capable of communicating itself and could alone effect the mind to the exclusion of all else, whether, in fact, there was something whose discovery and acquisition would afford me a continuous and supreme joy to all eternity.’ As I argue in these earlier posts and in Philosophy at the Edge of Chaos, Spinoza was unable to adequately reconcile the infinite with the finite mind and thereby adequately address his ethical problem.

For Leibniz the problem of reconciling the finite and the infinite is a decidedly logical problem. Since Leibniz does not begin with the notion of one infinite substance but rather with infinite individual substances (or what he calls monads), the problem becomes one of relating each individual substance to the infinity of other individual substances. The watershed idea that Leibniz credits for enabling him to resolve this problem is that of a complete notion. As Leibniz states it,

If a notion is complete, i.e is such that from it a reason can be given for all the predicates of the subject to which this notion can be attributed, this will be the notion of an individual substance and conversely. For an individual substance is a subject which is not in another subject, but others are in it, and so all the predicates of that subject are all the predicates of the individual substance.’ (“The Nature of Truth”).

As Leibniz will repeatedly state this point, a true proposition is one whereby ‘the predicate is in the subject’. This is the case even of contingent truths, such as Caesar crossed the Rubicon or I am a professor of philosophy. To say that the complete notion of Caesar is such that it includes all the predicates that are true of this individual substance, then the complete notion of Caesar necessarily includes the predicate of crossing the Rubicon, and for me it includes being a professor of philosophy. The problem with this, as Leibniz recognized, is that the complete analysis of such necessary contingent truths requires an infinite analysis that only God can do:

In the case of a contingent truth, even though the predicate is really in the subject, yet one never arrives at a demonstration or an identity, even though the resolution of each term is continued indefinitely. In such cases it is only God, who comprehends the infinite at once, who can see how the one is in the other, and can understand a priori the perfect reason for contingency; in creatures this is supplied a posteriori, by experience.

Even if we could carry out the infinite analysis and demonstrate how each individual substance necessarily involves every other individual substance, we could still not give the reason for the infinite series itself. This is where Leibniz is able to rescue the perfection and wisdom of God who chooses the best of all possible worlds, or the best infinite series. A consequence of this move is that Leibniz separates mind, the mind that chooses and understands reasons, from matter. One of the central tenets of Locke’s philosophy that Leibniz attacks in his New Essays, and by extension in Spinoza as well, is precisely the view that ‘matter might think’. Since matter, for Leibniz, is infinitely divisible one can always find extrinsic relationships within relationships, simpler bodies within any given body, but as Leibniz understands it, ‘in each individual substance, God perceives the truth of all its accidents from its very notion, without calling in anything extrinsic; for each in its own way involves others, and the whole universe.’ (“Necessary and Contingent Truths” emphasis mine). The notion or concept of an individual substance is thus distinct from, and not to be confused with, the material constituents of a substance, or matter does not think. Spinoza, by contrast, by taking the road less travelled and not attempting to reconcile the infinite with the finite logically and by way of true propositions and concepts, is able to accept the claim that matter thinks, or better said that thought and matter are each expressions of the same infinite enjoyment of existing that is substance (God or Nature) as Spinoza understands it. So we come, finally, to another choice that Spinoza and Leibniz leave us with: either matter is self-moving and is its own reason for existing (Spinoza) or matter is not self-moving and is in need of the perfection and wisdom of God in order to have its reason for existing (Leibniz)."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:02 pm

Quote :
"As Spinoza argues, a body that is made up of many smaller bodies, a body with organs such as ours so to speak, will continue to be the same singular body as long as these smaller bodies (or objects) ‘communicate their motions to each other in a certain fixed manner’ (2L3Def.). And again, ‘2L5: If the parts composing an individual become greater or less, but in such a proportion that they all keep the same ration of motion and rest to each other as before, then the individual will likewise retain its nature, as before, without any change of form.’ The end for the sake of which we do something, our appetites, is thus a striving to persevere with a given proportion of motion and rest. Spinoza refers to this as the ‘actual essence of the thing’ (3P7), in contrast to the formal essence of the thing that is ‘the essence of each thing insofar as it exists and produces and effect, having no regard to its duration’. (4Preface). The formal essence of the body is the proportion of motion and rest that is independent of its duration in the face of external objects, objects that would bring about the death of the body if they cause it to lose its proportion of motion and rest. The formal essence of the body is the idea of the body as comprehended under the attribute of extension (as eternal or non-durational), in contrast to the actual essence of the body that does have durational existence and is related to other objects, including objects that will lead to its perishing. Understood in this way a key function or effect of our appetites is to select against objects, to select against excessive differences and determinations, for these differences and determinate objects may undermine the ratio of motion and rest and hence undermine (kill) the very durational existence of the body itself. God, on the other hand, as absolutely indeterminate and self-caused substance is the infinite enjoyment of existing that affirms all differences. God, however, is absolutely indeterminate substance in actu rather than in potentia and thus God does not have to select against difference. God is the absolute affirmation of difference rather than the limited affirmation of difference that characterizes bodies like us.

We are now in a better place to understand Spinoza’s critique of teleology. To make a conscious decision to bring about a certain state of affairs, to act towards a particular end or goal, is not inconsistent with either Spinoza’s claim that the mind can have no effect on the body (5Preface), nor is it inconsistent with his claim that our decisions are determined by our appetites (1Appendix). It is rather straightforward why this is so for Spinoza: any conscious decision itself is determined by the process of selecting against difference—that is, it is determined by our appetites. Moreover, this tendency to select against difference characterizes both the mind and the body (which follows from Spinoza’s famous 2P7); consequently, the conscious decision to bring about some state of affairs is simply the mental counterpart to a bodily process of selecting against difference. Spinoza’s critique of teleology is thus not a critique intended to void of sense our conscious decisions to do things. Such decisions are not illusory; rather, his critique ought instead to be understood in the manner of a Kantian critique – namely, it is an attempt to reveal the conditions for the possibility of making such goal-oriented decisions at all. And the condition for this possibility is the tendency to select against difference; or, as Spinoza defines it, it is our appetites; and it is this understanding of appetites and selecting against difference which most appealed to Nietzsche. Connecting this to an earlier post, our ultimate appetite is not, contrary to Nietzsche’s reading of Spinoza, simply to persevere within the fixed proportion of motion and rest that is the formal essence of our body, but rather it is to affirm the absolutely indeterminate condition that does not select against difference, that does not act towards a particular end or goal. To state it in yet another way, our conscious decisions to act towards a particular end or goal supervenes upon a conatus that is endless, that is absolutely indeterminate and not to be confused with any determinate ends or goals."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:03 pm

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:03 pm

Quote :
For Spinoza, the “goal” of human life – or, better, our happy passage through this life – is inextricably linked with knowledge of the world and one’s place in the causal structure of the world. Curiously, then, we see that Spinoza’s thought contains what Nietzsche claimed it did – a primacy of knowledge of the affects (though not knowledge as an affect). On the other hand, this aspect, I believe, is slightly less prominent in Nietzsche, for whom, one might say, willing takes primacy over knowing. Indeed, given the fact that Spinoza denies that there is a distinction between the intellect and the will (EIIp49c) and that Nietzsche affirms this distinction, this difference between the two on this point should not be surprising. Thus, for Spinoza we are to know who we are, while for Nietzsche we are to will to take responsibility for who we are, that is, we are to “create” ourselves.

While it is true that Spinoza holds repentance, regret and remorse for passions that produce even greater suffering, I think that, if what I have said about the character of our becoming who we are is true, we can see why it is that repentance does not and in fact cannot arise from reason: the dictate of reason leads us to become who we are, to accept our history as our history, and as such as a part of nature. Indeed, we must remember one of the crucial epistemological mistakes, according to Spinoza, is considering things as contingent. Contingency is simply a product of the imagination, not of reason. (EIIp44 and corollaries) Hence, it is not simply that regret and remorse make us feel bad and hence should be avoided; rather, it is an error to imagine how things might have been and feel a particular way based on this image. The Spinozistic sage must consider himself, like all other things, under a certain species of eternity. To wish that things had been otherwise is to wish for a different self, or for a different set of drives; to accept who one is is to become who one is. And while Nietzsche would never describe it in this way, Spinoza would have no problem in calling this “blessedness.”

In EIVp4 Spinoza claims, “It is impossible that a man should not be a part of Nature, and that be should be able to undergo no changes except those which can be understood through his own nature alone, and of which he is the adequate cause.” How does the claim that man is essentially part of nature relate to the idea that there is a dissonance between individual and world? Spinoza’s claim is simply that because man is part of nature, he cannot but be affected sometimes by things of which he is not the adequate cause, by things that are, as it were, outside of him. In Part V, we come to see that blessedness is the knowledge of how one is part of nature and how who one is has been determined by things of which one was not the adequate cause. In short, for Spinoza we come to love God in part because we recognize our place within the world and our determined nature within this world.

As Spinoza puts it in the concluding passage of the Ethics, summarizing the benefits of the life of the sage: “...the wise man...is hardly troubled in spirit, but being, by a certain eternal necessity conscious of himself, and of God, and of things, he never ceases to be, but always possesses true peace of mind.” (EVp42s) Being conscious of oneself, God, and the rest of the world is also, however, being conscious of the fact that one is merely a part of nature. Compare this thought with Nietzsche’s words from Schopenhauer as Educator: “...nature at last needs the saint [Spinoza’s sage?], in whom the ego is completely melted away and whose life of suffering is no longer felt as his own life – or is hardly so felt – but as a profound feeling of oneness and identity with all living things..."

Nietzsche and Spinoza on Becoming  Who One Is

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:03 pm

Quote :
Spinoza wrote:
"If two men unite and join forces, the together they have more power, and consequently more right against other things in nature, than either alone; and the more there be that unite in this way, the more right will they collectively posses."

Deleuze and Guattari wrote:
"There is only desire and the social. Nothing else."

Being as the assemblage of "composable" relationships ( of powers, of desires, of essences, multiplicities. . . ).

The essential element for ontological constitution is Spinoza’s focus on the productivity of being.

Expression - the movement from power (essence) to act (existence) is the concept Spinoza used to develop an immanent ontology, as shown in Deleuze thesis on Spinoza’s "expressionism" - written in 1968 as a habilitations - schrift. Four years later, and with the May ‘68 experience behind, Deleuze transformed the Spinozist expressions to political desires togheter with the left- wing activist and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari in vol 1 of Capitalism and schizophrenia. Ten years later, the marxist Antonio Negri wrote (while imprisoned in Rome 1979- 81) a treatise on Spinoza’s politics and metaphysics that is strongly influenced by Deleuze, opening up an urgent and innovative perspective on the spinozist "anomaly" that still is not surpassed but totally updated to our age of real subsumption under capital, of late modernity, late capitalism. It is these connections between power, desire, knowledge and being, that I hope to introduce here.

Immanence instead of transcendence. "There is only one substance which can be understood to depend on no other thing whatsoever, namely God" he claimed. The substance is expressed or actualised in two attributes, Extension and Thought, of which there are infinitely more, but unknown to human senses. The two attributes are within substance/God/nature, but need a third kind existence to "enter" the world, i.e. modi, infinite and finite modes which as the attributes all are immanently within substance, or God, or as we might prefer to call all that exists, Nature. There is nothing outside Nature. No goal, no finalism, no teleology. No external transcendent Creator, but a participating infinite existence that exists on one plane of immanence. This concept of God is not personal, but abstract and more like a principle of explanation. One does not need another relation to God than the intellectual love, scientia intuitiva, which may lead to the state of beatitudo (an individual salvation.

No thing can be exterminated except by an eternal force, Spinoza states , referring to the concept of conatus. (latin for "striving- to- exist"). This "life-force", power to exist, is what the thing is, its essence, Spinoza maintains, in his major work from 1677, the Ethics, part III, prop 7: "The striving by which each thing strives to perserve in its being is nothing but the actual essence of the thing ".

Passions, affections and sadness weaken one’s power to exist, whereas actions, active affections and joy make one more powerful, having more essence, more conatus. There are metaphysical and logials correspondences between essentia, conatus, potentia, vita (life), appetitus,[desire, man’s essence ) virtus (understood in the Machiavellian sense of manly power, not humble virtue) in Spinoza’s system. What should be rememberd is that power, desire and essence are closely related in Spinoza.

In his last unfinshed posthumous work in 1677, Political Treatise (PT), Spinoza states that ". . . the power by which things in nature exist, and by which they in consequence, they act can be none other than the eternal power of God/. . . /But men are led more by blind desire than by reason; and so their natural power, or natural right, must not be defined in terms of reason, but must be held to cover every possible appetite" (Ch. II).

God as understood by Spinoza is not the transcendent Father, but rather what is real, existing as virtual essence or as actual realised essence in existence The power to act is not in need of a divine support. It is nothing else but the power of a certain mode itself as far it expresses an essence.

This capacity is enhanced or diminished according to the affects or passions that encounter modes, how they are being affected, affect others or let others, by their passions, rule them. If there exists nothing else but the acting powers of human individuals, it follows that the power of the state and its government is nothing but the disposition of all the citizens’ powers together, i.e. democracy in a sense before it got its liberal interpretation. And since powers give right, people have as much right as they have power, contra Hobbes who saw men as giving up their powers in a fictious contract. Spinoza states that men always retain their powers, and never actually leave them. But do people know this ? What is the political function of 1st order of knowledge, imaginatio, besides 2nd ratio and 3rd, beatitudo (salvation)in Spinoza’s epistemological scheme? Can imagination develop to some extent into reason, 2nd order of knowledge ? What is the (political) place of desire in the transformation of the people’s imagination and reason ?

Power has two equal sides, the power to exist and to be affected . Above all we seek in all ways to become active, yes even joyful ! Production of affects (chosen actions from self-preservation, conatus) and sensibility to be affected. Their sum is constant (either you decide, or someone else). This sensibility may be chosen, actively, internally caused , or passive, externally caused. Most of our lives are filled with passive affections, since we do not understand the real causes behind things and events.

When my body encounters another and agree, we form a new body, with a new power to exist Spinoza says. Our bodies meet other bodies and change accordingly to relations of power and affects. An encounter between two bodies, that are not fixed units according to Spinoza but may form a new "body", a relationship of bodies/thoughts/modes, will be interpreted to their composability or incomposability. A body of any kind is defined by the possible relation into which it may enter. This is its power of acting. If the bodies agree " in nature" it is a joyful passive affection that increases the bodies’ power to act. If not, sadness occur and either body or both may be decompose the relationship , the new "body".

The question arises immediately: How can we get as many active affections and as little passive ones as possible ? How do we experience as much (self-caused) joy as possible ?
Most encounters are sad since men are often subject to passions.

Spinoza’s solution is far more naturalistic and realistic, as immanent as his ontology. For him, all political theory must start with two basic conditions:

1) Human emotions are not contingent vices, which just can be thought away. Rather, they are necessary, in harmony with the rest of nature,

2) Therefore they must be understood, not criticised or loathed.

Spinoza had no use for theories of people written by thinkers "as they would like them to be". A political theory must start from the predicament of common men, not saints. "I have therefore regarded human passions like love, hate, anger, envy, pride, pity, and other feelings that agitate the mind, not as vices of human nature, but as properties which belong to it in the same way as heat, cold, storm, thunder and the like belong to the nature of the atmosphere." ( PT, ch. I, )

If we grant men their necessary passions, we may build up a secure state. Politicians who relies on good faith are not long-lived and would prepare his own destruction, a Machiavellian theme, the difference is that Machiavelli recognised a civic virtue in all men that possibly could ground a stable state, whereas Spinoza kept the virtuous way open only to the wise. The multitude (people,) neither could nor wanted to walk the narrow road to higher political or theoretical interests. Machiavelli resigned himself to the people’s passions ("They should know better!"), but Spinoza noted that they probably neither should nor could ("No, they’re only natural !").

"It follows that the power by which things in nature exist, and by which, in consequence, they act, can be none other than the eternal power of God. / . . ./Now from the fact that the power of things in nature to exist and act is really the power of God, we can easily see what the right of nature is. For since God has the right to do everything, and God’s right is simply God’s power conceived as completely free, it follows that each thing in nature has as much right from nature as it has power to exist and act.; since the power by which it exists and acts is nothing but the completely free power of God " (PT, ch. II, Spinoza’s italics).

Passions lead the multitude to use its power by natural right. If people are in bondage by their passions it follows that they may use it in a wrong or good way. To strive to exist, conatus, is the base whatever means one chooses. The multitude use passions, the wise reason. Both ways have the same natural right to do it. Non- utopian politics may just use the first way, the passions of the multitude. "The natural right of the passions, and therewith the rule, founded in natural right, of conflict, hatred, anger and so on is against reason in respect to our [the wise] nature, but not against reason in respect of the laws of nature as a whole "( Strauss , p. 232).

Power gives rights as in "To be able to exist is power " ( Ethics, part I, prop 11, 3rd proof). Power is the essence of substance, as the concept of conatus showed. We should not confuse Spinoza’s concept of right as power with cynicisms as "might as right", "the right of the stronger" etc in an elitist fashion. "He is not only the first modern thinker to defend democracy as such, but to do so on the principle that might makes right" (Smith, p. 376). Weak men have as much power as the strong in absolute terms, but is somehow separated from what his powers, his essence, can attain. To attain as much as we can, we must increase our actions and increase our active affections, joys and lessen what makes us sad and powerless.

Spinoza never leaves to any degree the ‘naturalistic’ level. Whatever one does is ‘right’ in his concept of right, because one can do it and must do it", historian Geismann notes (p. 44). Spinoza bases his doctrine of natural right not on humanity but on God or the one substance where all participate as part of nature.

Each being in its essence is a result or an element in God, so all beings are comparable in that they express God in different degrees, i.e. that they are to different degrees. " Man is only a particle of nature. But this particle of nature which is man must, in an eminent sense, be nature, be power" ( Strauss , p. 239). The right to exist is greater in beings that "exists" in a higher degree. The power of the multitude has greater power and therefore right than the wise men, if they not quantitatively change that balance (with technical and ideological means for example.)

If we conceive power as the power of a body, we get closer to Spinoza’s concept of power. We do not know what a body can do, he says, but we know that it will exercise its natural powers, its rights, if not blocked as in "anti- production.

"Pushing to the utmost what one can do is the properly ethical task. It is here that the Ethics take the body as a model; for every body extends its power as fast as it can. In a sense every being, each moment, pushes to the utmost what it can do " (Deleuze 1990, p. 269). This model applies to states too, and people’s ability to conceive new states, or abolish states altogether as the radical interpretation by Hardt: "Spinoza’s conception of natural right, then, poses freedom from order, the freedom of multiplicity, the freedom of society in anarchy" ( 1993, p. 109).

Nobody can so completely transfer to another all his right, and consequently all his power, as to cease to be a human being/. . ./It must therefore be granted that the individual reserves to himself a considerable part of his right, which therefore depends on nobody’s decision but his own" (TTP, ch.17).

The "void" left by the absence of contracts, and State authority, is filled by the practices and powers of the masses, in Negri’s (1992, 1994a) and Hardt’s (1996) radical democratic interpretations.
TTP states fully that right (ius) must rely on and is the same as power (potentia).
If right as a subjective right is identical to the power to act, it follows that the laws as rules of politics own their force, in the last instance, to the acceptance of the governed themselves, i.e. their collective power to agree.


If Hobbesian individuals would gain all natural and contractual rights without full power, they would be in a powerless and contradictory position visavi the state. Now, individual powers are less isolated than taken together, which is what rulers know. From what the ruler fears, the mass (multitudo) can know. "If it is true that we can know the people only from he view of the prince [ as Machiavelli stated], it is equally true that we can know the people only from the point of view of the Prince" (Montag 1995, p 101).

Peace and stability are the aims of the state for Hobbes, as they are for Spinoza. But peace is not to best at all costs for Spinoza. Peace must be endurable, otherwise opposed, even with arms.

Spinoza envisioned that men only can live as reasonable and free in a state or a city. Experience teaches man that living together in states or other commonwealths is the best way to attain security and develop free thoughts . The formation of society is necessary and useful, although not " natural" in the sense of being self-evident to all citizens at all times. If men lived according to reason, and were not prey to superstition, a state based on reason would be possible. "There is no singular thing in Nature which is more useful to man than a man who lives according to the guidance of reason (Ethics, part IV, prop 35, cor. 1). / . . . /Still, it rarely happens that men live according to the guidance of reason. Instead, their lives are so constituted that they are usually envious and burdensome to one another "(ibid, schol.) .

The urge to exist, conatus, teaches man that life in common is better than solitary life in a state of naure. Better in the sense of useful to oneself, to one’s advantage. Spinoza lets the "satirists" laugh at human affairs, the "theologicians" curse them, and "melancholiacs" praise lower animals and disdain mankind - all are mislead by not taking man’s own desire for his advantage, his conatus, , as his real cause for building society (ibid). Democracy is to be preferred, being the most natural government of men. A democracy is better since there is less danger of a government behaving unreasonably, for it is practically impossible for the majority of a single assembly, to agree on the same piece of folly. But Spinoza views democracy also as an effective means to rule. Tyranny might arise, but they do not last long . Spinoza notes ( as Seneca) that despotic regimes never lasts long,whereas moderate ones do. The state is usually superior to the individual by its united strength of many citizens, that power is the state’s " right". Spinoza asserts that

" . . . Since the right of the commonwealth is determined by the collective power of a people, the greater the number of the subjects given cause by a commonwealth to join in conspiracy against it, the more must its power and right be diminished. . . The right of the state is nothing more than a natural right, limited not by the power of the individual , but by that of the multitude, which is guided by one mind" (PT, ch.3).

The balance of powers are important: "The reason of the state lies not in the governing nor in the governed, but in the capacity of the ruler to rule, and in the capacity of the ruled to be ruled " (Strauss , p. 240). A state ruled by force is weaker than ruled by a free multitude. Therefore the state must secure that the citizens get freedom and security, out of adhering to the state . "The state proves its own reason against the irrationality of men not by an appeal to reason of its citizens, but by the realization of self - preservation [conatus] according to the principles expounded in the ontology.

The state must rely on a balancing of collective powers, rather than individual rights, obligations and contracts. Since it is not individuals who counters the state’s Power, but the united mind of the multitude, the conclusion is that this mind of its own has a certain existence, essence and power. History becomes a history of mass struggle, not of relationships between individuals and states (Balibar 1994 and Negri 1992).

Spinoza rejected in PT the juridical and transcendental apparatus of contracts, obligation and rights since he saw where the real power was, in the multitude. Individual power were never as strong as collective material forces. Hobbes started from pure individuality in the origins of the state, where Spinoza could speak of a "body" being composed of several individuals, with one nature as we’ve seen. The multitude is not reducible to anything but itself, a new body of (former) individuals. It has then attained a state when its passions have been transformed to actions.

The multitude is hard to govern, since "whoever has experienced the inconstant temperament of the multitude will be brought to despair by it. For it is governed not by reason but by the affects alone" (TTP, ch 17). The state must combine affective means ( piety, patriotism, superstition) with rational ( utility, private wealth). The "affections of reason" are outside the scope of the free community’s mutual consent, since they are useful, at least in the long run, to the community. "Men should really be governed in such a way that they do not regard themselves as being governed, but as following their own bent and their own free choice / . . / they are restrained only by love of freedom" (PT, ch. x)

Religion can degenerate to superstition Spinoza showed. But other ideological means are just as efficient and lead to obedience and destructive stupidity.

"If we admit with Spinoza /. . . / that communication is structured by relations of ignorance and of knowledge, of superstition, of ideological antagonism, in which are invested human desire and which expresses an activity of bodies, we must also admit with him that knowledge is a practice, and that the struggle for knowledge (philosophy) is a political practice. In the absence of this practice, the tendentially democratic processes of decision described by the PT would remain unintelligible. We understand thereby why the essential aspect of Spinozist democracy is from the outset liberty of communication. We understand also how the theory of the ’body politic’ is neither a simple physics of power, nor a psychology of the submission of the masses, nor the means of formalising a juridical order, but the search for a strategy of collective liberation, for which the password is: to be the greatest number possible to think the most possible (thoughts)"(p. 118 in Balibar 1985, my transl).

Negri goes much further than Balibar in his summary: "Spinoza’s innovation [of the genealogy of the power of the multitude] is in fact a philosophy of communism; Spinozian ontology is nothing but a genealogy of communism"(Negri 1994a, p. 139).

Deleuze and Guattari argue that capitalism is a schizophrenic system. Because it is interested only in the individual and his profit it must subvert or deterritorialize (as they name a down- mantling process, of leaving land) all territorial groupings such as the church, the family, the group, indeed any social arrangement who occupies a practical or theoretical "territory". But at the same time, since capitalism requires social groupings in order to function (for work and sell goods to), it must allow for reterritorializations (taking back land), new social groupings, new forms of the state, the family, or the group. These events happen at the same time. The life of any culture is always both collapsing and being restructured.

Lacan is unavoidable in this context. He united Freud’s (sexual) desire and Marx’ politics. He likened psychological repression to political repression, when stating that "the unconscious is structured like a language"(as society, laws, desiring stratas), a Political unconscious. But like Plato, he argued that desire was constituted as a lack, and was impossible to fulfil other than in dreams. Deleuze and Guattari undertook an analysis of desire that is distinctly political, more than Lacan. According to them, desire may fix on one of two alternatives. It may affirm itself, go along as far as it can, or it may choose (ruling) power as its centre and the establishment of order as its purpose.

For a Marxist, any purely human discourse cannot be the final word. It must be located within the relations of production, so that there is an opposition, between production (base) and ideology (superstructure). But Deleuze and Guattari argued for a "productive desire" which rejected the Marxian notion that desire belonged to ideology. It also rejected the Freudian notion of an unconscious and hence, except in dreams, unproductive desire. Desire is something else than lack, want, instinct, wish, interets, need etc, which are produced within a certain fixed social status and metaphysics. It is unconscious desire that produces interests, wishes etc, which may act against conscious wishes, interests etc. Desire may be repressed by another desire when its immanent production is blocked. The politics of desire aims to break down the dichotomy between desire and interest, so that people can begin to desire, think and act in their own interests, and become interested in their own desires.

For Deleuze and Guattari, schizophrenia is the model for the production of a human being capable of expressing productive desire, but it is an active schizophrenia as a process and not a medical schizophrenia to which they refer.

There is no class struggle because there is only one class, the class of slaves, some of whom dominate others. Almost no desiring individuals can ever fulfil their desires, as Spinoza also concluded his Ethics:

"For if salvation were at hand, and could be found without great effort, how could nearly everyone neglect it ? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare".

In Deleuze & Guattari, this is because each individual moves between two poles, between schizoid desire, which is revolutionary but anti-social and paranoid desire, which is social but codified and demands its own repression.

The Oedipal prohibition which produces the neurotic who has internalized guilt in order to repress desire is not a fact of nature but the result of social codification. In practice, Deleuze and Guattari have created a new vocabulary to permit them to speak about psychoanalysis and society without falling into either Marxist or Freudian ideas. Rather, their ideas are taken from Spinoza (ontology) and Nietzsche (ethics), but transcribed into a bricolage of French structuralism in the 60’s, cybernetics, non-linear science and pure theoretical fun.

For Deleuze and Guattari, history is a process of de- and reterritorializations of desire and social production. At the beginning is the primitive tribe, a "primitive territorial machine", in which everything is coded. The society is static, and every gesture, action and even the body is governed by rules. This occurs both at the level of economic production and libidinal/desiring production. Everything is social. The territory is clearly marked out. At later level in history, the age of empires, the tribe gives way to the despot,a "barbaric territorial machine", who deterritorializes the tribe, but continues to maintain social order through a highly coded production.

The end of history is Capitalism, a "civilized capitalist machine", which radically decodes and deterritorializes social life from its medieval despotic regimes. It invents the private individual, owner of his own body and its labour. In order to accomplish this deterritorialization, everything sacred, ritual or traditional has to go. Capitalism has no need of any sacred system of belief. It is the most radical of all systems, since it undercuts anything that represses the autonomous individual. And yet, the reality of capitalism is the greatest repression of desiring production in history. Presumably, it should have led to an absolute freedom, but it has not. Instead, disciplinary societies in early capitalism as analyed by Michel Foucault has ginven way to societies of control of late capitalism, where poeple in (developed) countries are controlled by infinite digital systems rather than a structuring disciplinary gaze.

A ontological whole, a One, must to be replaced by a Multiplicity, an heterogenous intensive manifold of differences where as many connections as possible are established (Spinoza’s concept of substance in not understood as a hierachial One by Deleuze). Secondly, to move this multiplicity, we need it to create something, produce a "consistency". A machine is something (organic or non- organic, or mixtures as cyborgs) that is able to draw and assemble new events from old in a creation, the second element in the immanent multiple relations. Thirdly, Deleuze /Guattari pose desire as the tendency to come into existence of such creations.

"Desire, a concept deterritorailized from adult sexuality, while not losing its erotic character, becomes applicable in any context or relation: it is a spontaneous emergence that generates [new] relationship[s] through a synthesis of multiplicities. Desire is the machinic relation itself, in respect of both its power of coming into existence and the specific multiplicity to which it gives a consistency" (Goodchild, p. 4). To liberate is to relate knowledge to desire and power. Knowledge must deal with what kinds of multiplicities and immanent relations exist in society; power concerns production and transformations of relations (capacity to affect and be affected in Spinoza’s sense); desire handle the driving force behind creation and relations.

Spinoza has philosophy of immanence appears from all viewpoints as the theory of unitary Being, equal Being, common and univocal Being. This claim, which applies equally to both Spinoza and Deleuze, must be understood if we are to see how a Deleuzian philosophy of surfaces and differences is to be coherent. Deleuze’s concept of difference is essentially an anti- transcendental one; he is trying to preserve the integrity of surfaces of difference from any reduction to a unifying principle lying outside all planes of immanence/consistency, a metadiscourse that would hold other discursive practices under its sway.

Expression is the relation among substance, attributes, essences, and modes that allows each to be conceived as distinct from, and part of, the others; "The idea of expression accounts for the real activity of the paticipated, and for the possibility of participation. It is in the idea of expression that the new principle of immanence asserts itself. Expression appears as the unity of the multiple, as the complication of the multiple, and as the the explication of the One" (Deleuze 1990, p. 176). With Spinoza, it is not merely a neutral description of being but at the same time revealing of being as an object of affirmation, of desire. It is expression that, by substituting itself for emanation and by displacing all forms of dualism, introduces into philosophy the anti- transcendental notion of the univocity of being ."What is expressed has no existence outside its expressions; each expression is , as it were, the existence of what is expressed"(ibid, p. 15-16).

The essence of substance/God/Nature (Spinozist terms) is its infinite (but not indefinite) power, the absolutely unlimited power to exist and generate affects. "Essence is power" Spinoza states several times. Now, things exist not as essences but as existent finite and infinite modes. Substance is both the process of making expressions, natura naturans, |creative nature] and those expressions, natura naturata [created nature]. Throughout all its expressions, being remains univocal. It must be seen that to univocal is not to be identical; "The significance of spinozism seems to me this [Deleuze writes]; it asserts immanence as a principle and frees expression from any subordination to emanative or exemplary causality. Expression itself no longer emanates, no longer resembles anything. And such a result can be obtained only within a perspective of univocity" (ibid p. 180).

Spinoza’s way of considering bodies is important here. He envisaged as we saw before that bodies could be of all kinds, of matter, thought etc. Bodies then are composed of relations between parts that also have smaller parts etc. But since all boides have the same substance, they are distinguished in two ways; their degrees of speed and slowness, movement and rest; and "their sets of affects that occupy a body at each moments, that is, the intensive states of an anonymous force [i.e. desire] (force for existing, capacity for being affected)" (Deleuze 1988, p 127-8, written 1970 before his preoccupation with desire). Bodies can only be known through the changes that happen to them. The affects of a book for example. "We will never ask what a book means . . . we will not look for anything to understand in it. We will ask what it functions with, in connections with what other things it does or does not transmit intensities. . . " (Deleuze/Guattari 1987, p. 4). The question is not, is it true ? but, does it work?

In a "proper" production of desire there is no unrealized capacities, whereas in anti-production (of desire), such as in normal capitalist production or state government, there is not sufficient energy, power, desire, to create change to something new, but only repetition of old forms of representation, models, identities, standards, habits etc. What is immanent, and present, is not as important (in anti- production, where "bodies" is hindered from what they can do) as what "we always do here". Desire on the other hand, is everywhere, a part of infrastructure and society, and crosses all limits which is why is must be repressed by established orders and the so- called "reality". But it is historically coded and thus made to change when capitalism and states change, as individuals and bodies must do too.

Spinoza enables us to regard our governments and their ideological apparatus with fresh eyes, with adequate ideas. As all things are explained by their acts, and capacities for affecting and being affected, man and his collective efforts will be judged by of what they are capable of. What are we capable of ? What are states capable of ? What makes us and political initiatives joyful or sad, effective or powerless ? Spinoza and Deleuze & Guattari, helps us posing new questions in politics and ontology. To use our powers and release our desires in politics as well as everywhere else.


POWER AND DESIRE IN THE POLITICAL ONTOLOGY OF SPINOZA AND DELEUZE/GUATTARI  



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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:04 pm

Quote :
"It may sound strange for a materialist to a speak of God as Spinoza does in the beginning of his major œuvre the Ethics. His attack on transcendence and naive theism is so thoroughly structured and well thought that he cannot do else. A theism presupposes a difference between a Creator and his Creation. The former immaterial spirit, the latter material world. The former logically and chronologically before the latter. Matter is devalorized both ontologically by being further away from what is more real, but also essentially as to its truth or meaning, since it also is prior and outside the world. This is natural for Plato as well as in emanist Neo-Platonist doctrines up to Kant, Hegel and contemporary search for inner meaning as in hermeneutics . "Nature comes to depend on what is external to it, what is above and beyond it, not only for it existence, but for its essence, its meaning and truth " (Montag 1989, p. 91). Matter is not really real, but expression of something more real than the apparent materiality. To counter this "derealization" of reality, Spinoza starts his system with an immanent God.

But he is not a naive materialist that inverts the duality spirit/matter by saying that all thoughts and non-material objects are material essentially. "Spinoza’s God is a conceptual device that prevents the formation of any ontological hierarchy, whether idealist or ’materialist’/. . . /If all that exists is in God and part of God, then all that exists is real, equally real" (op cit, p. 92). There exists only one substance, absolutely infinite, God, Spinoza writes at the beginning of Ethics and continues, there can not be more than one substance because "one substance cannot be produced by another substance" (Ethics, Part I, prop 6).

Materialism in Spinoza is a certain devaluation of thought in favour of body and is a correction of idealism. By privileging thought, is not only the material world devalorized but being becomes dependent on thought. Spinoza- scholars are divided in around the status of attributes, whether intellectual or material. Spinoza himself blurs many distinctions when writing, "By attribute I understand what the intellect perceives of a substance, as constituting its essence" (op cit , prop 4) . What is important to note here is that materialism in Spinoza means foremost that the attributes (and modes) are what is manifest, not substance itself. Of course substance exists since all is substance or God, but not as the Whole, a Totality. Instead Spinoza must be viewed as a thinker of the One and the Multiple as same concepts. Numerical distinctions as in infinite attributes are not real distinctions. God or Nature is not a number, but differ intensively, not quantatively (see Deleuze 1990, ch 1).

This distinction is better understood under the concept of God or substance. Substance may be viewed from its essence or what it is in itself, or from its existence, or what it is in actuality . These are formally distinct, but not really. They are not different things, but dynamically identical. The essence of substance is its infinite (but not indefinite) power, the absolutely unlimited power to exist and generate affects. "Essence is power" Spinoza states several times. Now, things exist not as essences but as existent finite and infinite modes. Substance does not exist as the power to generate affects but as those affects, as expressions in Deleuze’s interpretation. Substance is both the process of making expressions, natura naturans, and those expressions, natura naturata. "The existence of God and his essence are one and the same" Ethics, part 1, prop 20. Expression - the movement from power (essence) to act (existence) is the concept Spinoza uses to develop an immanent ontology, as shown in Deleuze 1990.

Reality as such conceived [as perfection and affirmation] is assumed to survive when all negation has been thought away; but to do this is to do away with all determinateness/.../ his system of philosophy, according to which all particularity and individuality pass away into the one substance " (Hegel quoted in Hardt 1993, p. 3). Hegel meant that Spinoza lacked negation. Since all is substance, what limits it ? Being not determined through negation will remain indifferent and abstract and dissolve into nothingness, an absolute void (see Hardt 1993, ch 1 and 3, Oittinen 1994 and Machery 1979).

But Spinoza did not use negation as Hegel did, but in a Scholastic fashion from the mediaeval Scholaticist Duns Scotus, where negation is not related to what something is not. Rather, negation as different, not opposite. A difference that relies on an external concept of what it is not, is too abstract and weak. If something relies on external causes, it does not have a cause in itself, which for decisive for all beings Spinoza thought. Deleuze tries to wrest Spinoza off all emantist and pantheist interpretations in order to stay away from indeterminateness and conceive of a positive difference, where substance or being differs from itself. The Deleuzean "difference - in- itself" grounds and creates being, not governed by analogy or similarity, dogma or common sense, will to truth or simplicity (Deleuze 1994).

Spinoza’s alternative, an immanent monism, abolishes all separate levels of existence. All exists at the same plateau. Substance is expressed by the attributes in different forms but in the same sense. That is why they can be compared.

The greatness of Spinoza was his transformation of neutral theological uses of univocity to affirmative immanent expressivity.

"With Spinoza, univocal being ceases to be neutralised and becomes expressive; it becomes a truly expressive and affirmative proposition. Nevertheless, there still remains a difference between substance and the modes. Spinoza’s substance appears independent of the modes, while the modes are dependent on substance, as though something other than themselves" (Deleuze 1994, p. 40).



Causation is not to be thought of as God is prior to what is the effect of a cause; rather, God is the "immanent, not the transitive cause of all things (op cit, prop 18). God is self-caused, not in temporality but internally. Causality is internal. God as cause of itself, in itself and through itself, but not as origin (Hegel’s wrong interpretation). "By substance I understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself. i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed (op cit, prop 3). Causa sui. might be explained as a rejection of three inadequate conceptions of causation :

1) material - physical cause that causes an external effect,

2) final - refers to end or goal in its effect,

3) accidental - an unnecessay effect and as such not intelligible.

Spinoza grants only an (internal) efficient cause. For being to be necessary, the fundamental ontological cause must be internal to its effect (Ethics, part I, prop 34 -36, and appendix).


"It is a matter of showing that the body surpasses the knowledge that we have of it, and that thought likewise surpasses the consciousness we have of it. There are no fewer things in the mind that exceed our consciousness than there are things in the body that exceed our knowledge / . . /that fact is that consciousness is by nature the locus of an illusion. Its nature is such that it registers effects, but know nothing of causes. The order of causes is defined by this: each body in extension, each idea or each mind in thought are constituted by the characteristic relations that subsume the parts of that body, the part of that idea. / . . . /The order of causes is therefore an order of composition and decomposition of relations, which infinitely affects all of nature. But as conscious beings, we never apprehend anything but the effects of these compositions and decompositions. / . . . /The conditions under which we know things and are conscious of ourselves condemn us to have only inadequate ideas, ideas that are confused and mutilated, effects separated from their real causes" (p. 18- 9)

Man does not see this and attributes his false concept of freedom to God. We humans cannot coherently conceive God as immanent. Instead we try to figure God as being like us, an anthropomorphic God that judges and behaves in false and ideological freedom,l like us. Nothing is more dangerous, since it leads humans to superstition, by taking natural events for divine interventions as the wonders in Old Testament, and desire their servitude as freedom, by institutionalising ideology ( in Spinoza’s time religion) in material practices. How would we else explain how men often " see the better and do the worse" ( Ethics,part III, prop 2, scol) ? We take our suffering for the sake of God’s wrath and repent sins we never committed.

CONATUS Spinoza introduces the conception of conatus (self- preservation, striving to existence) in Prop 7, Part III Ethics. Propositions 4-6 shows that each particular thing attempts to preserve its own existence. Further, Prop 4 states that "No thing can be destroyed except by an external cause".


This assertion rests upon the principle of contradiction: if a thing could be destroyed by an internal cause, that would imply that its essence contains a negation of itself, that is, that its essence contradicts itself: the definition of anything affirms, and does not negate, the thing's essence: that is, it posits, and does not annul, the thing's essence. So as long as we are attending only to the thing itself, and not to external causes, we can find nothing in it which can destroy it. This is critical of Hegel’s external negation, since by definition something must affirm what it is not. Impossible for an immanent substance .

This naturally leads to the definition of contrary natures, important for Spinoza’s dynamics: Things are of a contrary nature, that is, unable to subsist in the same subject, to the extent that one can destroy the other. The transition from this conception of a thing's essence as self-affirmation to conatus as striving to persist in existence is made through the following proposition: "Each thing, in so far as it is in itself, endeavours to persist in its own being". The proof states: Particular things [...] express in a definite and determinate way the power of God whereby he is and acts, and no thing can have in itself anything by which it can be destroyed, that is, which can annul its existence (prop 4, Part III). On the contrary, it opposes everything that can annul its existence ; and thus, as far as it can and as far as it is in itself, it endeavours to persist in its own being. Passions, affections and sadness weaken one’s power to exist, actions, active affections and joy make one more powerful, having more essence, more conatus.

Spinoza has thus far demonstrated that the essence of a particular thing involves the opposition of anything capable of annulling its existence. He then proceeds to identify this opposition, this endeavour to persist in its own being, with the essence of the thing:

From the given essence of a thing certain things necessarily follow (prop .36, Part I), nor do things effect anything other than that which necessarily follows from their determinate nature (op cit, prop .29). Therefore, the power of any thing, or the conatus with which it acts or endeavours to act [...], that is the power or conatus by which it endeavours to persist in its own being, is nothing but the given, or actual, essence of the thing.

Insofar as a thing exists, it cannot be negated by any internal cause, as this would be a self-contradiction and the essence of a thing is pure affirmation of that thing; this also implies that to be able to agree with a thing of a contrary nature would involve the same self-contradiction. An existing thing must oppose all things capable of annulling its existence; and since this striving or conatus is an affirmation of the thing's nature, it is not to be distinguished from its essence, which is pure affirmation of that thing. The essence of a thing is its conatus; conatus is the existence of a mode's essence. This lengthy analysis is important since Spinoza builds his concept of man’s right of nature on conatus, individually and collectively.


Spinoza's Political Ontology



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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:04 pm

Quote :
"For Hobbes, the conatus is not an inherent power of a body but is determined by the motions of other bodies. However, he regards it as an active power, because "the beginning of the motion of a body must be considered as action or cause" (De Corp II.9.6). Thus endeavor is the power by which a body affects the motion of other bodies and resists their power, and, in a sense, also 'causes' the motion of the body itself, for Hobbes takes the principle of the persistence of motion to be true: "whatsoever is moved, will always be moved in the same way, and with the same swiftness, if it be not hindered by some other moved and contiguous body" (De Corp III.15.1). Thus Hobbes, like Descartes and Spinoza, takes conatus to be the active power by which a body persists in its state of motion. In brief, Hobbes accepts the following fundamental principle:

(CP) The conatus-principle: A body endeavors to preserve its state and resist the causal power of other bodies.

This is a true natural law for Hobbes. I want to show the importance of (CP) for Hobbes's theory of human action and political philosophy.

II. The Beginning of Voluntary Motion

The following explanation is given in The Elements of Law for the beginning of a voluntary motion. The motion caused by an external object in the sense organ continues to the brain which resists it by its own endeavor to keep on the "vital motion" of the brain (EL I.2.Cool. The reaction of the brain is experienced as an "imagination" or "fancy", and imaginations tend to be preserved as "memories" even after the original external cause is removed, due to the conatus-power of the brain to keep its state on. This is the first clear application of the conatus-principle:

(CP1) Sensations endeavor to preserve their state and resist the power of external causes.

From the brain the imagination-motion proceeds to the heart that reacts by its active power or endeavor. When the motion strengthens the vital motion of the heart, delight or pleasure is generated, and because the vital power of the heart is decisive for the vitality of the whole human or animal body, then what we experience as delight or joy is nothing else than a motion increasing the active power or conatus of the heart. Correspondingly, any fancy or memory which weakens the vital motion of the heart is felt as pain or displeasure, or fear in case the displeasure is not present but expected (EL VII.1).

Here begins a voluntary motion: the emotion of pleasure or pain causes a motion toward or away from the external cause, and this motion "is the endeavor or internal beginning of animal motion" (EL I.7.2) which determines the direction and power of the voluntary motion. All human actions consist in this way "in appetite or aversion to or from the object moving" (ibid.). When we are deliberating, the possible consequences are represented as images in our brains, some of which cause desires and some aversions, and the vector sum of these various endeavors then determines the kind of action we will commit. The will consists of this sum total; it is "the last appetite in deliberating" (Lev, I.6; H 28). The will is therefore the desire which forms the conatus of a voluntary motion, and the motion initiated in this way continues until the power of new images causes a change in the conatus.

(CP2) The will, i.e. the last desire or aversion in the deliberation, endeavors to preserve its state and resist the power of causes external to it.

Hobbes must conceive reasoning, too, as a kind of motion having an external cause, but he gives it a special status: the causes of reasoning are features common to all bodies in the world, and they remain always the same, like the causes which generate a circle. Because the motions of reason are unaffected by any particular causes, we can understand why it is always free from passions, and being entirely free from resisting causes, they will have the same conatus forever. Perhaps this explains why Hobbes can think of reason as a motion and at the same time as the spring of eternal truths.

(CP3) The reason endeavors to preserve the truths it has conceived, and since nothing resists it, the truths are preserved forever.

This of course is true of right reason only. Hobbes believed that whenever we follow reason, we cannot err or get into contradictions, and in this sense we can be entirely free. The will to reason and to follow its conclusions, laws of nature, might be called our rational conatus.

IV. Preservation of Life

Let us call the first motion, or compound of motions, with which the existence of a body begins, the initial endeavor. It is the power by which the body persists its existence. The initial endeavor of living beings appears as their power to preserve their life, and this they do "by a certain impulse of nature, no less than that whereby a stone moves downward" (De Cive I.Cool. This is perhaps the most important way Hobbes uses the principle of conatus.

(CP4) A living being endeavors to preserve its life and resist anything contrary to it.

According to Hobbes, this conclusion is a law of nature which all living beings follow by necessity.

It seems therefore odd that he speaks of the right to preserve one's life. He just wanted to say that anything that is in accordance with the laws of nature is done rightfully; "that which is not contrary to right reason, that all men account to be done justly, and with right" (De Cive I.Cool. In this way natural right is based on natural laws, and "[t]he first foundation of natural right is this, that every man as much in him lies endeavor to protect his life and members" (ibid.), i.e., the conatus-principle (CP4).

V. The Social Contract

By (CP4), we necessarily endeavor to preserve our life and resist anything contrary to it, and whatever the reason may show as a means to the preservation, we will try to accomplish with the same endeavor. Hobbes argues that certain important means can be found by right reasoning.

The first is that every man ought to endeavor peace (Lev I.14; H 64). This is a law of nature for Hobbes resulting as an important derivation of the conatus-principle:

(CP5) We endeavor to seek peace in order to preserve our life.

The reason tells further that peace can be obtained only by acting for common ends. To attain peace, it is necessary to reach consent by making mutual contracts or covenants concerning how people use their will or power. In other words,

(CP6) We endeavor to unify our wills and actions by making contracts in order to promote peace.

The third law of nature is "that men perform their covenants made" (Lev I.15; H 71). This is a natural consequence of the principle (CP6), because true covenants are declarations of will, and will again is the power by which a body preserves the motion of a voluntary action, as (CP2) says.

(CP7) We endeavor to keep our contracts and resist any passions tempting us to break them.

Because making contracts and keeping them are necessary means to attain peace, pointed out by reason, people desire them by equal power; the endeavor in (CP7) and (CP6) is the same as in (CP5).

The rational conatus has a double task: it makes men to find out the laws of nature, and it also makes them to establish a peaceful and just society. This is what Hobbes means by his famous words that "civil philosophy is demonstrable because we make the commonwealth ourselves" (SL; EW VII 184). We have to notice that passions play no role in the demonstration of a just society; indeed, they must not have any role, since the building of a just commonwealth depends on the rational conatus alone. According to Hobbes' theory of action, contracts may ensue only when the rational conatus of participants is stronger than the power of their desires resisting the will to covenant, and it must remain so in order for the contracts to be valid. Because this is not in general the case, (CP7) cannot be the only rule right reason tells to obey, but dictates another one:

(CP8) When there are many who do not follow contracts, we rationally endeavor by all of our power to preserve our life.

This, like (CP7), is a law of nature. Both are principles of reason. What would be against reason is to break contracts because of following selfish passions or by fear of becoming attacked. Fear would not form a rational reason for us to follow war, although our behavior caused by fear would be in accordance with the law of nature that (CP8) renders.



Conatus and the Hobbesian Sovereign

The Hobbesian sovereign is a 'body' to which the contracting participants convey an essential part of their power, that is, of their rational conatus as well as the means they have to support this conatus. Thus the power of the sovereign represents a combined conatus of citizens; it is like a big body that receives its force to move towards peace from many small bodies causing its motion.

(CP9) The sovereign endeavors to preserve the life of citizens by the joint conatus-power of rational individuals.

From this principle, Hobbes derives several interesting characteristics of the sovereign.

The power of the sovereign is absolute in the sense that there cannot be any greater power to limit it, because the sovereign already forms "the terminus ultimus of the forces of all the citizens together" (De Cive VI.13). The power is indivisible (Lev II.18; H 93), which it must be as it consists of one unified will. Hobbes also reminds that the sovereign power cannot be forfeited or resisted, for we cannot do that without contradicting ourselves: the sovereign power represents our rational will. As long as the power of the sovereign represents our rational conatus, it remains valid forever, and appears as the endeavor of the sovereign to preserve its being a sovereign. This implies the necessity of succession, or as Hobbes says, the "order of artificial eternity of life" of the sovereign (Lev II.19; H 99).

(CP10) The sovereign endeavors to preserve its status and resist all attempts to forfeit it.

The phrase "artificial eternity" expresses well the power of the sovereign as an endeavor to preserve its state."

Hobbes and Conatus

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:04 pm

Quote :
"Spinoza's 'ideal eye' depicts a spherical lens that is "able to focus rays parallel to a variety of axes (in fact, an infinity of axes)" (kvond). But human vision is not panoptical in this way. However, the way we see things in our mind's eye could come closer.
Ideal mental vision, instead of being modeled upon a central point of focus, Spinoza conceives of as panoptical; that is, one “sees” as best as a human mind can the cross-section of rays as they converge from every direction upon the human being.
Kvond notes that this comparison is too simple to fully capture all the complexities and affinities involved. However, we still may draw probing philosophical conclusions:
For one, in that Descartes’ hyperbola inheritance may be traced to Kepler’s Paralipomena its conceptual framework should be viewed as grafted from that Neo-Platonic Ideal, opening up the question of what aporias arise under such a graft (for instance, a point of focus in a Neo-Platonic realm, does not operate with the same powers or meanings as a point of focus does within a Will-driven conception of the soul). Additionally, Spinoza’s rejection of the naturalization of the hyperbola, and the analogy of center-focused human vision, has far-reaching consequences for the reading of the place of the Self in his philosophy of power and affect. If Ideal vision occurs across a field of foci, the periphery has no less a “truth” than any center. The margin does not merely, as Kepler says, “serve” the axis - so goes the critique in so many postmodern attacks on a philosophy of Presence – hence the margin is the very place where a search for truth is made, whether it be the margin of society or a comprehensive Totality of Being. (kvond)"

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kvond wrote:
"The frictions in life were the variable grits of an ocular becoming active, not so much as to crystallize the vision in a moment of clear apparition, but insofar as WE are the lens, our ocularity must be seen as an activity, a becoming clear, in the sense that a knife’s edge is clear, clear in what it can do, yet only suggestive of what it will do. I do not mean this in a metaphorical way for Spinoza tried not think in metaphors, but literally. Ideas are meant to sharpen our activity.

The eye of course makes the most interesting of locations, for it is the site of very precise and incessant refractions, but also is one of the most emotively expressive nexuses of the body. Here the timbre of the tightening of a muscle can pull an object unconsciously into focus, or can reveal the subtlest grade of an emotional or conceptual shift to others. The two must coincide for Spinoza. As his driving hand (or his foot) felt the sensitive, resistant grind of the cup, as his ears heard the quality of the abrasive alter under its effect, and his eye picked up the clued traces of method, hour after hour, the glint, strum and lub must have enacted the clarity that was to be acheived, a wholly material, that is to say, physical, expression of craft and thus freedom."

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Kvond wrote:
"There is something potters-wheel-like in the combination of changes faster than the eye can see, amid a stability, a stability that communicates itself both despite and because of change. It embodies, in a very real way, what conceptually can only read as paradox, natura naturata and natura naturans. In it conflict and pressures create forms that rise out of an unformed, and the physicality of “idea” is not so much a theoretical and abstract position, as a real and experienced fact. Perhaps this is what he meant by his “demonstration” of the “eyes of the mind”.

If a philosopher were a full-time potter, it would serve to look to the potter’s wheel and its effects as a source of conceptual inspiration. So with the lathe, the pan and the glass.

I think that if anything, Spinoza’s metaphysics, the equanimity with which he treats the material world, never letting it fall to the inferior position, insists upon a craftsman’s understanding of the world, and what practically must be done. We are mislead, I believe, due to the Idealism that followed after Spinoza, into thinking about Idea even in the case of Spinoza, in an etherial, and not so much an informational sense. Further, the technical, the engined, if guided by Spinoza’s hand, must be understood as craft. If one watches a lathe, and thinks in Spinoza’s terms, one sees the world spin and fix."

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:05 pm

Quote :
Jeffrey Bell, in another one of his superb readings of Spinoza (or, more precisely, perhaps, of Deleuze’s Spinoza), discusses “Eternity and Duration”, by which he also means the difference between the virtual/problematic (which he associates with Spinoza’s substance) and the actual/determinate (which he associates with Spinoza’s modes). Bell says that, in Spinoza,

the human Mind that is eternal is not the determinate, identifiable mind, but rather the immanent condition for the possibility of such a determinate identification; it is, in short, the infinite power of self-ordering becoming (the ‘infinite enjoyment of existing’) that allows for the possibility of determinate, singular bodies, and for the determinate singular minds that are the ideas of these bodies.

This means — to give a crude reduction of Bell’s argument — that Spinoza’s mind/substance/God is equivalent to Deleuze’s virtual; it is an immanent potentiality. Any actual mind/body is a particular finite determination or actualization of that potentiality (a “solution” to that problematic). There is a continual movement from the problematic — “what can a body do?” — to particular actualizations, or to “modifications and affections of determinate bodies and minds,” that in effect instantiate or realize this problematic. And conversely, there is a counter-movement from the actual back to the virtual, due to the fact that “our determinate bodies and minds require the problematic as the ‘infinite enjoyment of existing’.” The ethical movement in Spinoza, and implicitly in Deleuze as well, is this countervailing movement “from the actual and determinate, from what this body is actually doing or has done, to the problematic and the virtual, the body as an eternity that is not to be confused with the determinate and which is indeed subject to many variations and which we can never fully possess.” This is how we attain Spinoza’s third kind of knowledge, or more generally the freedom that is the subject of Book 5 of The Ethics.

Whitehead never offers us such a movement back to the virtual as we find in Spinoza and in Deleuze. Indeed, Whitehead specifically declares himself to be inverting Spinoza in this crucial regard. In Whitehead’s own philosophy, “Spinoza’s ‘modes’ now become the sheer actualities; so that, though analysis of them increases our understanding, it does not lead us to the discovery of any higher grade of reality… In such monistic schemes [as Spinoza’s], the ultimate is illegitimately allowed a final, ‘eminent’ reality, beyond that ascribed to any of its accidents” (PR 7). In Whitehead’s resolutely pluralistic ontology, on the other hand, there are only modes or affections, the actual occasions. There is no substance, nothing behind the modes or affections, for them to be modes or affections of. This is because of Whitehead’s effort to get us away from “subject-predicate forms of thought.”

Nearly all the Spinozists and Deleuzians I know would reject Whitehead’s account as a misreading of Spinoza, a claim that Spinozian substance, or God (Deus sive Natura) is somehow transcendent, when in fact it is entirely immanent.

However, I want to suggest that Whitehead is right. Even if it escapes transcendence, Spinozian substance is still a subject for all the predicates, a monism behind the pluralism. Whitehead, by his own admission, offers a philosophy that “is closely allied to Spinoza’s scheme of thought.”

Whitehead secularizes God (PR 207) more radically and extensively than Spinoza does; Whitehead’s God, like Spinoza’s — and also like Deleuze/Guattari’s “body without organs,” as I argued in my book — is indeed associated with the virtual rather than the actual; but for this reason, God in Whitehead is curiously marginalized (as Substance in Spinoza is not). God operates for Whitehead as a sort of repository of the virtual, in that he envisages all “eternal objects” or potentialities indiscriminately (this is the “primordial” nature of God). God also functions as a sort of Bergsonian memory, in which all the past is preserved (this is the “consequent” nature of God). But by decentering God, and by splitting him up in this manner, Whitehead disallows anything like a return (a re-ascent?) back to the virtual from the actual. In this way, Spinoza’s third kind of knowledge is for Whitehead a kind of idealist illusion that needs to be rejected: the point being that it is still idealist, even if it is entirely immanent and doesn’t imply any recourse to transcendence.

The primordial nature of God is Whitehead’s revision of Spinoza, and the consequent nature of God is Whitehead’s revision of Bergson; in both cases, Whitehead brings us further than Deleuze ever dares to).

If we speak of the virtual, instead of God, then the point is that Whitehead’s often-rejected (even by his admirers) theory of potentialities as “eternal objects” should be seen as a secularization of theories of the virtual such as we find in Deleuze (with its roots in both Spinoza and Bergson). To put the matter very quickly. Every actual entity constitutes itself by a decision that accepts certain eternal objects, while rejecting others. The eternal objects that “ingress” into any actual entity are something like its predicates or qualities; except that no entity can be defined as just the sum of its predicates or qualities, because it is not just a collocation of characteristics (which would be to return to “subject-predicate forms of thought”). Rather, no list of an actual entity’s qualities can give us the entity, because such a list excludes a crucial dimension: the entity as process, or the way in which it selects, and then organizes or “harmonizes”, those qualities. This added dimension is a process or an action, rather than anything substantial (this is where I diverge somewhat from Graham Harman’s admirable notion of “allure,” as the dimension of an object that is withdrawn from, and in excess of, all its qualities).

For Whitehead, therefore, in consonance with Deleuze and Spinoza, something like the virtual or the potential needs to be determined or actualized. This actualization is the process of an actual entity (or, as Whitehead also calls it, an actual occasion) terminating in something absolutely determinate. But there is no movement back from the determinate to the virtual. Rather, once something is determinate, it perishes; and what has perished subsists as a “datum” for new determinations, which themselves, in taking up the data that precede them, must once again actualize potentiality.. and so on, ad infinitum.

In this way, I think, Whitehead avoids the Deleuzian suggestion (which one also finds in Bergson, and — in Bell’s reading — already in Spinoza, and currently in the wonderful neo-Schellingism of Iain Hamilton Grant) that the actual must always (with this “must” being something of an ethical imperative) return to the flux of virtuality whence it came."

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:05 pm

Kvond wrote:
"John Zammito’s The genesis of Kant’s critique of judgment is a compelling book, in particular for those interest in the after effects of the “Pantheism Controversy”.

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Spinoza of course denies the kind of human freedom that Kant so theoretically valued, granting freedom solely to God (and his modes in degrees), and he did so by virtue of treating Ideas NOT as representations, but actional, ontological expressions of power and freedom. It is rather from the non-human that Spinoza brings his attack upon the human realm itself, all the while arguing a vigorous ethics of action and an ecology of cares, ultimately effacing the categorical “I” (and the not-I) that would inspire much of Idealism after Kant. In Spinoza an Idea is distinctly trans-human, not as a representation, but as I argue elsewhere, an informational interconnection of expression itself. It seems that if there is to be true object orientation, or appreciation, it can only be arrived at by not grasping at the kinds of representational conceptions that historically have marked out human reality as privileged and unique (for obvious theological reasons)."

Kant's criticism of the Purpose of Spinoza's God


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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:06 pm

Schopenhauer wrote:
"I wish to indicate the relation in which my teaching stands to Spinozism in particular, after I have explained its relation to Pantheism in general. It is related to Spinozism as the New Testament is to the Old, that is to say, what the Old Testament has in common with the New is the same God-Creator. Analogously to this, the world exists, with me as with Spinoza, by its own inner power and through itself. But with Spinoza his substantia aeterna, the inner nature of the world, which he himself calls Deus, is also, as regards its moral character and worth, Jehovah, the God-Creator, who applauds his creation, and finds that everything has turned out excellently, panta khala lianSpinoza has deprived him of nothing more than personality. Hence for him the world with everything in it is wholly excellent and as it ought to be; therefore man ... should just enjoy his life as long as it lasts, wholly in accordance with Ecclesiastes ix, 7-10.

In short, it is optimism; hence its ethical side is weak, as in the Old Testament, in fact it is even false, and in part revolting. With me, on the other hand, the will, or the inner nature of the world, is by no means Jehovah; on the contrary, it is, so to speak, the crucified Saviour, or else the crucified thief, according as it is decided. Consequently, my ethical teaching agrees with the Christian completely and in its highest tendencies, and no less with that of Brahmanism and Buddhism. Spinoza, on the other hand, could not get rid of the Jewsquo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem. His contempt for animals, who, as mere things for our use, aredeclared by him to be without rights, is thoroughly Jewish, and, in conjunction with Pantheism, is at the same time absurd and abominable (Ethics IV, appendix, c. 27). In spite of all this, Spinoza remains a very great man; but to form a correct estimate of his worth, we must keep in view his relation to Descartes. This philosopher had divided nature sharply into mind and matter, i.e., into thinking and extended substance, and had also set up God and the world in complete contrast to each other. As long as Spinoza was a Cartesian, he taught all this in his Cogitata Metaphysica, c. 12, in the year 1665. Only in his last years did he see the fundamental mistake of that twofold dualism; consequently, his own philosophy consists mainly in the indirect abolition of these two antitheses. Yet, partly to avoid hurting his teacher, partly to be less offensive, he gave it a positive appearance by means of a strictly dogmatic form, although the contents are mainly negative. Even his identification of the world with God has only this negative significance. For to call the world God is not to explain it; it remains a riddle under the one name as under the other. But these two negative truths were of value for their time, as for all times in which there are still conscious or unconscious Cartesians. In common with all philosophers before Locke, he makes the great mistake of starting from concepts without having previously investigated their origin, such, for example, as substance, cause, and so on. In such a method of procedure, these concepts then receive a much too extensive validity. Those who in most recent times were unwilling to acknowledge the Neo-Spinozism that had arisen, were scared of doing so..." [World as Will and Representation, Vol. II][/size]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:06 pm

Quote :
"Spinoza’s three kinds of knowledge – imagination, intellection, and intuition – and his understanding of things as being finite, infinite in kind, and absolutely infinite."

Hegel's critique of Spinoza's Acosmism

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:06 pm

Quote :
"The plane of immanence is metaphysically consistent with Spinoza’s single substance (God or Nature) in the sense that immanence is not immanent to substance but rather that immanence is substance, that is, immanent to itself. Pure immanence therefore will have consequences not only for the validity of a philosophical reliance on transcendence, but simultaneously for dualism and idealism. Mind may no longer be conceived as a self-contained field, substantially differentiated from body (dualism), nor as the primary condition of unilateral subjective mediation of external objects or events (idealism). Thus all real distinctions (mind and body, God and matter, interiority and exteriority, etc.) are collapsed or flattened into an even consistency or plane, namely immanence itself, that is, immanence without opposition.

The plane of immanence thus is often called a plane of consistency accordingly. As a geometric plane, it is in no way bound to a mental design but rather an abstract or virtual design; which for Deleuze, is the metaphysical or ontological itself: a formless, univocal, self-organizing process which always qualitatively differentiates from itself. So in A Thousand Plateaus (with Félix Guattari), a plane of immanence will eliminate problems of preeminent forms, transcendental subjects, original genesis and real structures: "Here, there are no longer any forms or developments of forms; nor are there subjects or the formation of subjects. There is no structure, any more than there is genesis."
In this sense, Hegel’s Spirit (Geist) which experiences a self-alienation and eventual reconciliation with itself via its own linear dialectic through a material history becomes irreconcilable with pure immanence as it depends precisely on a pre-established form or order, namely Spirit itself. Rather on the plane of immanence there are only complex networks of forces, particles, connections, relations, affects and becomings: "There are only relations of movement and rest, speed and slowness between unformed elements, or at least between elements that are relatively unformed, molecules, and particles of all kinds. There are only haecceities, affects, subjectless individuations that constitute collective assemblages. [...] We call this plane, which knows only longitudes and latitudes, speeds and haecceities, the plane of consistency or composition (as opposed to a plan(e) of organization or development)."

The plane of immanence necessitates an immanent philosophy. Concepts and representations may no longer be considered vacuous forms awaiting content (concept of x, representation of y) but become active productions in themselves, constantly affecting and being affected by other concepts, representations, images, bodies etc. In their final work together, What is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari state that the plane of immanence constitutes "the absolute ground of philosophy, its earth or deterritorialization, the foundation on which it creates its concepts."

The concept of the plane itself is significant as it implies that immanence cannot simply be conceived as the within, but also as the upon, as well as the of. A lobster is not simply within a larger system, but folds from that very same system, functioning and operating consistently upon it, with it and through it, immanently mapping its environment, discovering its own dynamic powers and kinetic relations, as well as the relative limits of those powers and relations. Thus, without a theoretical reliance on transcendent principles, categories or real divisions producing relative breaks or screens of atomistic enclosure, the concept of the plane of immanence may replace nicely any benefits of a philosophical transcendentalism: "Absolute immanence is in itself: it is not in something, to something; it does not depend on an object or belong to a subject. [...]"

Deleuze: Plane of Consistency

Deleuze wrote:
"This other plane knows only relations of movement and rest, of speed and slowness, between unformed, or relatively unformed, elements, molecules or particles borne away by fluxes. It knows nothing of subjects, but rather what are called ‘haecceities.’ In fact no individuation takes place in the manner of a subject or even of a thing. An hour, a day, a season, a climate, one or several years—a degree of heat, an intensity, very different intensities which combine—have a perfect individuality which should not be confused with that of a thing or of a formed subject. ‘What a terrible five o’clock in the afternoon!’ It is not the moment, and it is not brevity, which distinguishes this type of individuation. A hecceity can last as long as, and even longer than, the time required for the development of a form and the evolution of a subject. But it is not the same kind of time: floating times, the floating lines of Aion as distinct from Chronos. Hecceities are simply degrees of power which combine, to which a correspond a power to affect or be affected, active or passive affects, intensities (Dialogues, p. 68)."

Quote :
""becoming is creation" Thousand Plateaus p 106
"A becoming is not a correspondence between relations. But neither is it a resemblance, an imitation, or, at the limit, an identification." Thousand Plateaus p 237
"Above all, becoming does not occur in the imagination"  "They are perfectly real." "Becoming produces nothing other than itself. We fall into a false alternative if we say that you either imitate or you are. What is real is the becoming itself" "it is in the domain of symbioses that bring into play beings of totally different scales and kingdoms, with no possible filiation." "Becoming is involutionary, involution is creative." Thousand Plateaus p 238
"Becoming is certainly not imitating, or identifying with something; neither is it regressing-progressing; neither is it corresponding, establishing corresponding relations; neither is it producing, producing a filiation or producing through filiation. Becoming is a verb with a consistency all its own; it does not reduce to, or lead back to, appearing," Thousand Plateaus p 239
"powers (puissances) of becoming that belong to a different realm from that of Power (Pouvoir) and Domination" Thousand Plateaus p 106
"become operative and lines of deterritorialization positive and absolute, forming strange new becomings, new polyvocalities. Become clandestine, make rhizome everywhere, for the wonder of a nonhuman life to be created." Thousand Plateaus p 191
"to have dismantled love in order to become capable of loving. To have dismantled one's self in order finally to be alone and meet the true double at the other end of the line. A clandestine passenger on a motionless voyage." Thousand Plateaus p 197
"The genius is someone who knows how to make everybody/the whole world a becoming" Thousand Plateaus p 200
"becoming-molecular that undermines the great molar powers of family, career, and conjugality" Thousand Plateaus p 233
"Although there is no preformed logical order to becomings and multiplicities, there are criteria, and the important thing is that they not be used after the fact, that they be applied in the course of events, that they be sufficient to guide us through the dangers.""[Thousand Plateaus p 251]

Deleuze and Becoming


Quote :
"Multiplicity
"it is only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, "multiplicity," that it ceases to have any relation to the One as subject or object, natural or spiritual reality, image and world. Multiplicities are rhizomatic, and expose arborescent pseudomultiplicities for what they are. There is no unity to serve as a pivot in the object, or to divide in the subject. There is not even the unity to abort in the object or "return" in the subject. A multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature (the laws of combination therefore increase in number as the multiplicity grows)." Thousand Plateaus p 8
"This is not surprising, since becoming and multiplicity are the same thing. A multiplicity is defined not by its elements, nor by a center of unification or comprehension. It is defined by the number of dimensions it has; it is not divisible, it cannot lose or gain a dimension without changing its nature." Thousand Plateaus p 249
"each multiplicity is already composed of heterogeneous terms in symbiosis, and that a multiplicity is continually transforming itself into a string of other multiplicities, according to its thresholds and doors." Thousand Plateaus p 249
"Let us return to the story of multiplicity, for the creation of this substantive marks a very important moment. It was created precisely in order to escape the abstract opposition between the multiple and the one, to escape dialectics, to succeed in conceiving the multiple in the pure state, to cease treating it as a numerical fragment of a lost Unity or Totality or as the organic element of a Unity or Totality yet to come, and instead distinguish between different types of multiplicity." Thousand Plateaus p 32
"All multiplicities are flat, in the sense that they fill or occupy all of their dimensions: we will therefore speak of a plane of consistency of multiplicities, even though the dimensions of this "plane" increase with the number of connections that are made on it." Thousand Plateaus p 9
"When a multiplicity of this kind changes dimension, it necessarily changes in nature as well, undergoes a metamorphosis." Thousand Plateaus p 21
"One of the essential characteristics of the dream of multiplicity is that each element ceaselessly varies and alters its distance in relation to the others."" [Thousand Plateaus p 30]

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Quote :
"Rhizome
"A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. The tree imposes the verb "to be," but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, "and. . . and.. . and. . ." This conjunction carries enough force to shake and uproot the verb "to be." Thousand Plateaus p 24
"Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the rhizome is that it always has multiple entryways Thousand Plateaus p 12
"any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order."  Thousand Plateaus p 7
"There are no points or positions in a rhizome, such as those found in a structure, tree, or root. There are only lines." Thousand Plateaus p 8
"A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines." Thousand Plateaus p 9
"show at what point in the rhizome there form phenomena of massification, bureaucracy, leadership, fascization, etc., which lines nevertheless survive, if only underground, continuing to make rhizome in the shadows." Thousand Plateaus p 14
"To be rhizomorphous is to produce stems and filaments that seem to be roots, or better yet connect with them by penetrating the trunk, but put them to strange new uses." Thousand Plateaus p 15
"rhizomes also have their own, even more rigid, despotism and hierarchy" Thousand Plateaus p 15
"the rhizome is an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system without a General and without an organizing memory or central automaton" Thousand Plateaus p 21
"Write, form a rhizome, increase your territory by deterritorialization, extend the line of flight to the point where it becomes an abstract machine covering the entire plane of consistency." Thousand Plateaus p 11
"the rhizome, on the other hand, acts on desire by external, productive outgrowths." Thousand Plateaus p 14"

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Quote :
"Affect
“we call affect any mode of thought which doesn't represent anything. (…) what anybody would call affect or feeling, a hope for example, a pain, a love, this is not representational. There is an idea of the loved thing, to be sure, there is an idea of something hoped for, but hope as such or love as such represents nothing, strictly nothing.”  Cours Vincennes – January 24, 1978
“The whole discourse of representation is structured by analogical principles and thus Spinoza's whole operation consists in making, in imposing a kind of assemblage of affects which implies likewise a critique of representation” Cours Vincennes – January 14, 1974
“definition of the affect, the affect: what every affection envelops, (…) is the passage, it is the lived passage from the preceding state to the current state, or of the current state to the following state.” Cours Vincennes – January 20, 1981
“the affect is not reducible to an intellectual comparison of ideas, affect is constituted by the lived transition or lived passage” Cours Vincennes – January 24, 1978
“the whole problem of reason will be converted by Spinoza into a special case of the more general problem of the affects. Reason indicates a certain type of affect.” Cours Vincennes – December 12, 1980
“I don't see the necessity of having recourse to the word “feeling” since French offers the word “affect.” Thus when I use the word “affect” it refers to Spinoza's affectus, and when I say the word “affection,” it refers to affectio.” Cours Vincennes – January 24, 1978
“affectio: composition or decomposition between things.” Cours Vincennes – January 20, 1981
“you will not be defined by your form, by your organs, by your organism, by your genus or by your species, tell me the affections of which you are capable and I'll tell you who you are. Of what affects are you capable?” Cours Vincennes – January 14, 1974
“Then there's no longer just an effort to do: in any case, it's not necessary to believe that power [pouvoir] means a possibility that might not be fulfilled. Power [puissance] and degrees of power, this is no longer the Aristotelian world which is a world of analogy, it's not power which is distinguised from the act. The power of being affected, in any case, is or will be fulfilled, is fulfilled at each instant; it's necessarily fulfilled, and why? It's necessarily fulfilled at each instant by virtue of the variable assemblages into which it enters. That is, the affect is the manner in which a degree of power is necessarily actualized [effectuÈ] as a function of the assemblages into which the individual or the thing enters.” Cours Vincennes – January 14, 1974
“What Nietzsche calls affect‚ is exactly the same thing as what Spinoza calls affect, it is on this point that Nietzsche is Spinozist, that is, it is the decreases or increases of power (puissance). They have in fact something which doesn't have anything to do with whatever conquest of a power (pouvoir)” Cours Vincennes – January 20, 1981
“desire does not comprise any lack; neither is it a natural given; it is but one with an assemblage of heterogenous elements which function; it is process, in contrast with structure or genesis; it is affect, as opposed to feeling; it is "haecceity" (individuality of a day, a season, a life), as opposed to subjectivity; it is event, as opposed to thing or person. And above all it implies the constitution of a field of immanence” Desire & Pleasure, notes on Foucault, 1997, Chapter G.
“When, on the contrary, you are affected with joyful affects, the power of the thing which affects you with joyful affects and your own power are combined and added so that your power of acting, for that same power of being affected which is your own, is increased.” Cours Vincennes – January 14, 1974
“I would not say that the affects signal the decreases or increases of power, I would say that the affects are the decreases and the increases of lived power.” Cours Vincennes – January 20, 1981
“The most beautiful thing is to live on the edges, at the limit of her/his own power of being affected” Cours Vincennes – January 24, 1978
“But a body must be defined by the ensemble of relations which compose it, or, what amounts to exactly the same thing, by its power of being affected.” Cours Vincennes – January 24, 1978
“power of being affected (…) can be actualized in such a way that the power of acting diminishes to infinity or alternatively the power of acting increases” “A power of being affected is really an intensity or threshold of intensity.” Cours Vincennes – January 24, 1978
If “I'm not the cause of my own affects, they are produced in me by something else: I am therefore passive” Cours Vincennes – January 24, 1978"

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Quote :
"Consistency
"The plane of consistency is the abolition of all metaphor; all that consists is Real." Thousand Plateaus p  69
"The plane of consistency knows nothing of differences in level, orders of magnitude, or distances. It knows nothing of the difference between the artificial and the natural. It knows nothing of the distinction between contents and expressions, or that between forms and formed substances; these things exist only by means of and in relation to the strata." Thousand Plateaus 69-70"

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Deleuze

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:07 pm

Quote :
"Atmanspacher explains that what Jung and Pauli have essentially created is a dual-aspect monism, where each attribute (mind and matter) fully and irreducibly represent a deeper underlying domain. A key example of this the way that Jung uses synchronicity as a mind-body theory, wherein the mind and body represent synchronistic inner and outer events that have no casual connection (this would only be the case if one could be reduced into the other) but are related via meaning. It was this postulate that would eventually make Jung consider synchronicity as a ubiquitous event.67 As noted earlier, it also seems to have changed his approach to studying the archetype-as-such.

It is important to remember as well that God has no purpose or direction; Spinoza's system is only deterministic in the sense that things only flow from God out of necessity, not by design.137 Therefore the modes conceived under each attribute do not affect one another, since neither attribute is directed to affect the other. Therefore, though the order and connection of thoughts overlaps the order and connection of matter, they do not casually affect one another.138 Therefore discrete matter also has an idea of itself, 'or mind,' that does not emerge from the matter, but simply correlates with it. All matter is an extension of God's attribute of extension, and all thoughts are an extension of God's intellect. They emerge from the same substance, as equal but separate entities. This is why Atmanspacher classifies Spinoza as a dual-aspect monist.

I would now like to point out how well Spinoza's monism matches with archetypal theory. In particular, the problem of attributes basically gets at the same issue that is broached with the psychoid and the unus mundus. Under the relativist interpretation, the attributes, such as those of thought and extension, appear to be different but equally valid ways of describing God's essence. Similarly, psychoid archetypes blur the distinction between mind and matter, emanating in both subject and object and to give rise to synchronicity.
Behind these coincidences is a unity; our distinctions are, as Jung himself said, labels.153 That notion both Jung and Spinoza seem to be uphold similar metaphysics is bolstered by Atmanspacher, who notes that they both subscribe to dual-aspect monism, where both aspects of the monist center are equally valid descriptions, despite not having casual connections to one another.154 Jung thinks mind and matter are two sides of the same coin; archetypal theory supports the relativist interpretation of God's essence.
Perhaps it has been hard until now to accept how archetypes could be information independent of the body. But Spinoza offers a way to understand this, where ideas are not our filtered pictures of the world, but independent agents under an attribute wholly separate from matter (though again, it and matter are truly one and same). Pauli and Jung approximated the idea that the collective unconscious was merely the psychic aspect of an underlying nature, although as we saw at the end it seems Jung conflated the psyche with this underlying nature, which distorted the model. By backing that archetypal model with Spinoza's metaphysics, the collective unconscious becomes tantamount with the attribute of thought. Indeed, Spinoza upholds a priori knowledge, not in the Kantian sense, but in the fact that he sees “an adequate idea” to be one that captures God's essence. Archetypes then, are the infinite modes, the universals, of this attribute. Concurrently, modes of thought are individual ideas or minds; this includes but is not limited to the minds of living things.

We could stop here, with the collective unconscious as being equivalent with the attribute of thought. But we could also go further than this and describe the psychoid as the region where our distinction of attributes collapses, when, as in synchronicity, we witness an archetype emerging as both thought and extension. It was Pauli who urged Jung to see archetypes as organizers of both the psychic and physical.158 In this case would either limit the label archetype to the psychic, or use it to refer to infinite modes belonging to other attributes as wel.

I suggested that Jung's collapsing of the psychic with the universal could be reconciled if this maneuver was seen as relative to Atmanspacher's notion that one can acquire universal knowledge in a dual-aspect monist system by exploring the universals implicit within one of the attributes of that monism. The problem was that this seems to suggest that what's best for us is also what is best for the universe; in a system of infinities where God has no motives this seems difficult to believe. Though such teleology is implicit in much of Jung's writings; indeed, the basis of his therapy is that an impersonal unconscious will provide helpful contents for those willing to use them.161 This seems like a potential rift between he and Spinoza, for how can there be any teleology in a universe generated by an ambivalent God? The answer lies in Spinoza's theories of knowledge, emotions, and what he calls 'blessedness.'

I suggested that Jung's collapsing of the psychic with the universal could be reconciled if this maneuver was seen as relative to Atmanspacher's notion that one can acquire universal knowledge in a dual-aspect monist system by exploring the universals implicit within one of the attributes of that monism. The problem was that this seems to suggest that what's best for us is also what is best for the universe; in a system of infinities where God has no motives this seems difficult to believe. Though such teleology is implicit in much of Jung's writings; indeed, the basis of his therapy is that an impersonal unconscious will provide helpful contents for those willing to use them.161 This seems like a potential rift between he and Spinoza, for how can there be any teleology in a universe generated by an ambivalent God? The answer lies in Spinoza's theories of knowledge, emotions, and what he calls 'blessedness.'"

jung and Spinoza


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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:07 pm

Quote :
Quote :
"The best Spinoza interpreters continued to link the great philosopher with the doctrines of the authentic Kabbalah, especially those of the Zohar. One of the most important among them was Stanislaus von Dunin-Borkowski, a German Jesuit whose book Der Junge de Spinoza/ is still a classic hardly ever matched by more recent publications. Dunin-Borkowski has a full chapter called “Kabbalistische Wanderfahrten” (Kabbalist travels). A subdivision of it reads (pp. 176-90): “Der Ursprung der Mysticism-Kabbalah und die Urkeime des Spinozismus” (The origin of Mystericism-Kabbalah and the first germs of budding Spinozism). The author stresses that “a higher form of cognition of all finite things, a cognition of God and the light of eternity in the Kabbalah as well as in De Spinoza appears as the highlight of Ethics“. According to him, there was a highly developed older and intermediary type of Jewish mysticism prevailing beside the Kabbalahin the thirteenth century, and the Talmudists had already conceived the existence of mediators between God and the Universe. From these mystics, he concludes, an infinitely long and slow but almost straight evolution leads, through the ideas of the (kabbalistic) sephiroth and the neoplatonic emanations, directly to the basic concepts of the natura naturans and the first links of the natura naturata  in Spinoza’s system. Dunin-Borkowski, in contrast to Heinrich Grätz, the well-known historian of Jews in Germany, calls the sephiroth in the Sepher Jetzirah (Book of Creation) of the Zohara “highly advanced evolution of the secret philosophy of the Talmud, a groping for a link with secular science, an important transitional work pointing to the speculation of the oldest gaonitic religious philosophers. The concept of the En Sof, the Endless or Boundless one, Dunin-Borkowski continues, dominates the Zoharto the same extent as it will later be prevalent in Spinoza’s mind. And here we encounter exactly the same determinations which by so many thinkers and scholars consider a fundamental clevage between Judiasm and Spinozism. God (the En Sof) cannot be designated by any known attributes. He is best called Ayin (the undeterminable). Hence, in order to make His existence known to all, the Diety was obliged (or, what amounts to the same thing, wishes) to reveal Himself at least to a certain extent. But the En Sof, being boundless, cannot become the direct creator, for he has neither will, intention, desire, thought, language nor action, attributes which belong only to finite beings. The En Sof, therefore, made His existence known in the creation of the world by the ten sephiroth, which flowing directly from Him, partake of His perfection and infinity.

These substances or emanations are parts of one another, as sparks are part of the same flame; yet they are, at the same time, distinguished from one another, as are different colours of the same light…The pantheistic suggestions of the first and third book of the Zohar  have become of the highest significance for Spinoza. For there the sephirah “wisdom” forms a perfect unity with the crown and the En Sof. “They are like three heads which, actually, form only one. Everything is connected and linked together in the one whole (the universe). Between the Universe and the Ancient One (God) there is no distinction at all. All is One, and He is all – without distinction and separation.He who describes the sephiroth as separated from one another, destroys God’s unity’.

But Dunin-Borkowski has made another important discovery. The concepts of the Kabbalah were first transmitted to young Spinoza in a rather palatable contemporary version, i.e. Abraham (Alonzo) Herrera’s famous book Door of Heaven. It was written in Spanish and translated into Hebrew by Isaac Aboab. This work, which dealt with Kabbalistic philosophy, was a favorite sourcebook of Baruch’s noted Talmud teachers, Saul Levi Morteira and Manasseh ben Israel. In 1678 (one year after Spinoza’s death), a Latin version appeared under the title Sha’ar Hashomayim  class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=”Hashomayim “>seu Porta Coelorum. In quo Dogmata Cabbalistica Philosophorum proponuntur et cum philosophiae Platonis conferuntur.

Herrera himself had already died in 1639, and young Baruch absorbed the contents of Door of Heaven just during those most decisive years of mental development when the imprint of new ideas of strongest and everlasting in every budding intellectual. He read, of course, the book in its Hebrew version, the language he mastered best up to his death (despite his somewhat clumsy Latin publications and Dutch letters).

According to Herrera, there is on original substance with an infinite extension. Outside it, there are only divine modiwhich are all encompassed in that original substance, the En Sof, even in the potentialities. Thus, there is a created (finite) and a non-created (infinite) State of God, i.e. both God in His proper sense and the Universe; but God is and remains the immanent cause of all things, and the “Universe is actually nothing but the revealed and unveiled God”. Therefore, we find in the “Lexicon Cabbalisticum” (a chapter of the Door of Heaven) the unequivoked statement: “the acceptance of this unity is part and parcel of the faith of every genuine Israelite; we must believe that the Infinite manifests Himself in all His modi through the unity” (my italics). There is one substance, Herrera stresses, with infinite properites. It is determining itself by a multitude of infinite beings which are, however, nothing but its modifications. God is One and Many at the same time – one in so far as He is infinite; many in so far as He determines Himself in His attributes and modi. These modi cannot exist nor be understood without the Divine One inherent and indwelling in them. Everything is one in God(my italics). Dunin-Borkowski reaches the following conclusion: “Especially the first five treatises of the book [Herrera’s Door of Heaven] explain that only blind prejudice can overlook this source of Spinoza’s."

Spinoza and Kabbalah” by Henry Walter Brann,  in Spinoza: Context, sources, and the early writings (2001), edited by Genevieve Lloyd."


Spinoza and Kabala

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:07 pm

Spinoza on Evil

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:08 pm

Quote :
Quote :
"Because the distinction between Deleuze’s distinction between emanate and immanent is an interesting one, I thought I would post some of Deleuze’s thoughts on Plotinus in reference to Spinoza here, for the convenience of investigative readers. If interested, follow the link below. (Other thoughts on Plotinus and Spinoza are found in his Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza pages 170-178):

One of Plato’s disciples, Plotinus, speaks to us at a certain level of the One as the radical origin of Being. Here, Being comes out of [sort de] the One. The One makes Being, therefore it is not, it is superior to Being. This will be the language of pure emanation: the One emanates Being. That is to say the One does not come out of itself in order to produce Being, because if it came out of itself it would become Two, but Being comes out of the One. This is the very formula of the emanative cause. But when we establish ourselves at the level of Being, this same Plotinus will speak to us in splendid and lyrical terms of the Being that contains all beings, the Being that comprehends all beings. And he issues a whole series of formulae which will have very great importance for the whole philosophy of the Renaissance. He will say Being complicates all beings. It’s an admirable formula. Why does Being complicate all beings? Because each being explicates Being. There will be a linguistic doublet here: complicate, explicate…

…Why? Because this was undoubtedly the most dangerous theme. Treating God as an emanative cause can fit because there is still the distinction between cause and effect. But as immanent cause, such that we no longer know very well how to distinguish cause and effect, that is to say treating God and the creature the same, that becomes much more difficult. Immanence was above all danger. So much so that the idea of an immanent cause appears constantly in the history of philosophy, but as [something] held in check, kept at such-and-such a level of the sequence, not having value, and faced with being corrected by other moments of the sequence and the accusation of immanentism was, for every story of heresies, the fundamental accusation: you confuse God and the creature. That’s the fatal accusation. Therefore the immanent cause was constantly there, but it didn’t manage to gain a status [statut]. It had only a small place in the sequence of concepts.
Spinoza arrives…

…It’s with Plotinus that a pure optical world begins in philosophy. Idealities will no longer be only optical. They will be luminous, without any tactile reference. Henceforth the limit is of a completely different nature. Light scours the shadows. Does shadow form part of light? Yes, it forms a part of light and you will have a light-shadow gradation that will develop space. They are in the process of finding that deeper than space there is spatialization. Plato didn’t know [savait] of that. If you read Plato’s texts on light, like the end of book six of the Republic, and set it next to Plotinus ‘s texts, you see that several centuries had to pass between one text and the other. These nuances are necessary. It’s no longer the same world. You know [savez] it for certain before knowing why, that the manner in which Plotinus extracts the texts from Plato develops for himself a theme of pure light. This could not be so in Plato. Once again, Plato’s world was not an optical world but a tactile-optical world. The discovery of a pure light, of the sufficiency of light to constitute a world implies that, beneath space, one has discovered spatialization. This is not a Platonic idea, not even in the Timeus."

Deleuze Lectures


Deleuze on Spinoza and Plotinus

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:08 pm

Quote :
"The relationship of Spinoza to Plotinus:

Quote :
"It’s amazing how much Spinoza resembles Plotinus.

Plotinus said that, instead of creation ex nihilo, existence emanated from God.

Emanation ex deo (out of God), confirms the absolute transcendence of the One, making the unfolding of the cosmos purely a consequence of its existence; the One is in no way affected or diminished by these emanations.

This mirrors Spinoza’s idea that “creation” (so to speak) was necessary because God exists; and that the world is the way it is, and could be no other way, because of the nature of God. And though physical things are contingent (limited by things outside of themselves), God/substance is the only non-contingent, necessary thing, because God is not acted upon by outside agents (there is nothing outside of God). Existence necessarily exists, because of the nature of God, but the modes of existence are contingent.

In Plotinus’ view, it’s the ulimate destiny of contingent things to reunite with the One. I haven’t read anything about ultimate ends in Spinoza’s Ethics, but if I remember correctly, he agrees (kinda) with Plotinus. Not only is it our fate to disappear into God (to become one with the Force!)–a fate which we have no choice about–we should actively assent to it, in order to increase our happiness."

The conceptual parallels between Spinoza and Plotinus have always appeared to me to be significant, as it seems that somehow through Plotinus Spinoza had an inheritance of the “degrees of Being” interpretation of power and truth. One does not know if he received this Neo-Platonic inheritance through Augustine or through an early youth exposure to Kabbalistic thinking that was rife in the religious community at the time, but very few interpreters seem to give it much weight, preferring instead the Cartesian root-stem. But Spinoza vectorial treatment of knowledge and his General defintion of the affects surely demands such an additional analysis. That I know of, only Deleuze (EiP:S, pp 170 -178) gives substantive consideration to this continuance, as he touchily tries to parse out Spinoza’s immanencefrom Plotinus’s emanation, a perhaps vital distinction..."

Spinoza and Plotinus

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:08 pm

Spinoza and the Origins of Nihilism

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:10 pm

Quote :
"Recall that Nietzsche claimed in his postcard to Overbeck that both he and Spinoza denied the freedom of the will. Both, however, obviously allowed for a kind of freedom, and this freedom overlaps with the notion of “becoming who one is.” For example, for Nietzsche, we are to take responsibility for ourselves in part as a response to the eternal recurrence of the same; we are to recognize that we are who we are and that we could not have been otherwise. Similarly, for Spinoza, we are to recognize ourselves and our strivings within the determined universe; we are to acknowledge too that things could not have been otherwise; and, in doing so, we are to achieve happiness.

While I believe that it makes sense to read the Nietzschean idea of “becoming who one is” into Spinoza’s philosophy, there is a difference between the thinkers here that should not go unnoticed. This concerns the centrality of knowledge of one’s self as one is as well as a kind of prudential knowledge of who or what one wants to become. For Spinoza, the “goal” of human life – or, better, our happy passage through this life – is inextricably linked with knowledge of the world and one’s place in the causal structure of the world. Curiously, then, we see that Spinoza’s thought contains what Nietzsche claimed it did – a primacy of knowledge of the affects (though not knowledge as an affect). On the other hand, this aspect, I believe, is slightly less prominent in Nietzsche, for whom, one might say, willing takes primacy over knowing. Indeed, given the fact that Spinoza denies that there is a distinction between the intellect and the will (EIIp49c) and that Nietzsche affirms this distinction, this difference between the two on this point should not be surprising. Thus, for Spinoza we are to know who we are, while for Nietzsche we are to will to take responsibility for who we are, that is, we are to “create” ourselves.

The amor dei intellectualis is a result of amor fati, of a recognition of a kind of dissonance between individual and world. In EIVp4 Spinoza claims, “It is impossible that a man should not be a part of Nature, and that be should be able to undergo no changes except those which can be understood through his own nature alone, and of which he is the adequate cause.” How does the claim that man is essentially part of nature relate to the idea that there is a dissonance between individual and world? Spinoza’s claim is simply that because man is part of nature, he cannot but be affected sometimes by things of which he is not the adequate cause, by things that are, as it were, outside of him. In Part V, we come to see that blessedness is the knowledge of how one is part of nature and how who one is has been determined by things of which one was not the adequate cause.21 In short, for Spinoza we come to love God in part because we recognize our place within the world and our determined nature within this world. And ultimately, amor fati is a consequence of Nietzsche’s belief in eternal return, just as amor dei intellectualis is a consequence of Spinoza’s belief that we are simply part of nature."

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:29 pm

Cunningham wrote:
"Spinoza was implicitly involved (whatever his conscious intent) in a radical project of rewriting the words of common philosophical parlance, because he collapses their ‘original’ meaning and uses them as Trojan vehicles to traffic nothing less (or nothing more) than nihilism.

Spinoza copes with it by generating the dualism God or Nature; God supplements Nature, while Nature supplements God. But the simultaneous movement between each betrays a monism, in terms of a single substance.

Spinoza begins the Ethics with a methodological definition of causa sui and an explication of a tripartite scheme: substance, attribute and mode. (This is similar to the Plotinian triad: One, intellect and soul.)

For Spinoza, substance (substantia) is that which can be conceived through itself or whose conception does not involve another.7 An attribute (attributum) is that which expresses the essence of substance.8 Finally, mode (modus) is the modification of a substance.9 Any modification will only be articulated in terms of an attribute and an attribute is nothing but an essential expression of substance. This schematic is articulated within the shadow of causa sui and the understanding that ‘all things exist either in themselves or in something else’. But from the idea that something exists either through self-conception or through that of another, it follows that ‘there cannot exist in the universe two or more substances of the same nature or attribute’.12 If this were not the case then the conception of one substance would per accidens involve the conception of another substance. Consequently, neither would be conceptually autarchical. As a result they would fail to attain the appellation substantia. But as soon as we identify God, an absolutely infinite being,13 as causa sui we will begin to realise that the category of substance is somewhat ‘apophatic’ in that its invocation will simultaneously announce its dissolution.

Spinoza says that ‘the more reality or Being a thing has, the more attributes belong to it’.14 But as God is infinite being, or an infinite being, God must include in his self-conception an infinite number of attributes. This means that there cannot be an attribute which God’s self-conception does not include. If this is the case, then, there can be no substance other than God. Spinoza declares this to be the case: ‘Except God no substance can exist or be conceived.’15 This use of the concept ‘God’ has therefore enabled Spinoza to rid the world of all substances (and eventually of all substance).

For Spinoza there is an epistemic hierarchy accompanying his tripartite schematic and there are three levels to this hierarchy. The first level perpetuates the greatest degree of ignorance. This ignorance is dispelled as we move through the levels. Cognitio primi generis consists of opinio that functions on the back of imaginatio. Cognitio secundi generis consists of notiones communes which register ontologically valid sameness (universals). This level is that of reason for it is the ordo-intellectus, and consequently it seeks necessity. The last level is scientia intuitiva which is the epistemic provision of this desired necessity. (This level results from a ‘proper love of God’.) When we reach the third level we are aware that nothing occurs without necessity. We know this because we have developed idea adaequata. These enable us to realise the causation involved in every event and in everything. The type of causation involved at this level of knowledge is called causa adaequata.38 This causation carries all its effects within its own self-perception. This means that nothing happens without a full causative explanation. To view things from this level is to do so according to eternity (sub specie aeternitatis).

According to Spinoza an emotion (affectus) is the modification that pertains to a body which either increases or diminishes the power of that body.62 The Ethics treats emotions as if they were planes or lines, doing so in order to ensure that there are no explanatory lacuna. If the modification diminishes the power of the body, it is a passio. On the other hand, if we are able to be the adequate cause of those modifications we transform an altercation into an alteration, bringing something exterior ‘within the sides’ of our body; consequently, it is no longer an infringement. Being the adequate cause of the modification extends the body: it will, through the third level of knowledge, extend as far as eternity, in terms of an intellectual love of God. We call this adequately caused modification an actio. By contrast passivity leaves epistemic spaces of vulgarity which are the source of our misery. The ‘ontological’ element is introduced to explain the impulse of the perpetuated ratio. Spinoza calls it conatus: ‘Each thing in so far as it is in itself endeavours to persist.’63 And it is this endeavour to persist that defines the individual. The individual is this and nothing but this.64 ‘The force with which man persists in existing is limited and is far surpassed by the power of external causes.’65 But it is the principal endeavour of our mind to affirm the existence of the body; any thing which does not affirm the body is not of the mind but is opposed to the mind.

The important point is that although the force of persistence is limited, the duration is indefinite. This is interesting for us because it helps us understand the Spinozist individual. This individual is not a substance. Furthermore, it is not distinguished from other beings because of a substantial difference.68 Consequently, this individual does not have free will nor does it have a faculty of willing; the will and intellect are one. In reality there are only particular volitions which are caused,69 and as a result the individual never really perceives anything. So, for Spinoza, ‘when we say that the human mind perceives this or that, we say nothing else than that God . . . has this or that idea’.70 It is for this reason that Spinoza refers to the indefinite duration of the individual. Spinoza must ensure that the individual is indefinite so that, ontologically speaking, the individual can be capable of identity with God. This is so, especially, when we consider it from the divine perspective. The individual must be able to be God so that there is no individual; and God must be that individual to ensure that there is no (transcendent) God. This is the ultimate outcome of Spinoza’s univocity of being (or of non- being): everything is in the same way because nothing is.

The Ethics expounds a soteriology, a salvific plan based on epistemic progression. The three levels of knowledge have already been articulated above. As one moves from the first to the third level one attains and practises an intellectual love of God (amor intellectualis Dei). In this progression we move from pain (tristitia) to pleasure (laetitia). The former is a passion that leads to less perfection while the latter does just the opposite. Perfection is a matter of virtue which is itself a matter of power.72 The Good (bonum) is that which is useful in terms of an increase in virtue which is an increase in power.73 Spinoza is here going beyond ‘Good and Evil’, but is not going beyond the ‘good and the bad’; as Nietzsche said, ‘Beyond good and evil, at least this does not mean beyond good and bad.’74 The Ethics is developing a non-metaphysical understanding of values which even contains a soteriological element. Salvation lies in viewing the world sub specie aeternitatis, as this will provide the adequate causation needed for complete determination. We are saved in that our bodies are extended to eternity, for they are extended by the idea of the one substance of which we are a determinate part. The idea which accompanies this bodily expansion is the idea of God. Or rather, it is the idea of God which expands our body. The idea of God has all ‘creation’ as its ideatum, ‘creation’ is God’s body and this body is not not creation’s or a creature’s. At least this is the case for the saved. The unsaved will continue to inhabit vulgar fictions such as ontological individuality and so the possibility of death remains. But for the saved there is no death because there is a proper understanding that there is no life.

Virtue, which is increased power and so a more persistent ratio, is its own reward.75 Eternity for the saved is not related to time. Instead, it is a practical perspective inhabited knowingly by the enlightened: ‘The more the mind understands things by the second and third kinds of knowledge, the less it is acted on by emotions which are bad and the less it fears death.’76 This fear dwindles further the more we experience our eternity: ‘The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the human body, but something of it remains which is eternal . . . eternity cannot be defined by time nor have any relation to time. But nevertheless we sense and experience that we are eternal.’77 Death is defined by Spinoza as that condition in which the parts of a body ‘are disposed that they acquire a different relation of motion and rest’. But death has no reality, just as there is nothing actually bad in the world. Spinoza is adamant about this last point because it prevents any notion of comparison that might again open up a space for a metaphysics of purpose.

Everything is perfect as it is, for it is absolutely necessary, being a determined expression of God’s essence: ‘Nothing happens in nature which can be attributed to a defect of it: for nature is always the same.’79 For example, Spinoza recommends a life of crime if that is indeed your ‘nature’: ‘If anyone sees that he can live better on the gallows than at his table he would act very foolishly if he did not go hang himself.’80 This allows us to realise that in the world of Spinoza there can be no difference between a Holocaust and an ice-cream.81 Any qualitative discrimination can only stem from the function of our perspective, as a ratio seeking to persist. The individual is, then, to realise that it is but a modification of God, while God will be but those modifications, those individuals which are, as stipulated, nothing (since they are not, ultimately, individuals).

Every concept or category Spinoza utilises is used to its own destruction. He radically alters the meaning of a theory, not by arguing openly against it or proposing some change, but through a use of the word which initiates a transmogrification that quickly forgets itself. The strategy adopted by Spinoza I call ‘epistemic-anaplerosis’, since he fills each concept to such a degree that it implodes; it is implosion rather than explosion because that with which it is filled is literally nothing. This is a result of Spinoza’s doublespeak. As Funkenstein comments, ‘Spinoza uses terms and notions entrenched in the philosophical and exegetical tradition of the Middle Ages, seemingly accepting their validity while inverting their meaning.’ He translates each of these notions or terms into what Yovel calls ‘systematic equivalents’.83 It is for this reason that Deleuze says that ‘the Ethics is a book written twice simultaneously’. The categorical implosion is managed because Spinoza employs an extreme form of univocity and naturalism.

Spinoza reduces all that is to naturalistic explanation, leaving no space for metaphysical mischief. Yet he goes further, and reduces Nature itself to ‘naturalistic’ explanation. Nature itself does not, as it were, exist. Spinoza manages this undeclared mental gymnastics by playing Nature against the idea of God, i.e., by reducing God to Nature he must perforce also reduce Nature to God. Thereby he ensures Nature does not exist in any metaphysical sense. This Nature does not exist – its diversities, separations, finalities and pathos are all illusions. In this way, Spinoza manages to do away with God and Nature by simultaneous evocation, for each carries within it an infinitude that ensures its metaphysical dissolution. The category Substance is lost, because there is only one, and it exists purely in attributional modifications which are themselves nothing. So Substance has no more content than attribute and mode; the same goes for God and Nature.

Lloyd makes the obvious point that ‘the inadequacies of self- knowledge could be transcended only by self-destruction’.88 A self is but an epiphenomenal parochial configuration, articulated only by an ontologically fictitious perspective. This is not necessarily negative, as it is our salvation to realise its fictional status.89 To realise our own dissolution is to disown it. The individual is to lose its life because that might allow for a metaphysical understanding of being. But this individual is also to lose its death.90 For while persisting it cannot be said to be alive; nor, when this persistence is overcome by an external force, is it exactly dead. For in that case there would have to be a metaphysical space from which the notion of loss could be constructed, but there is only ‘plenitude’. This individual is highly Scotist, for it appears to be composed of equally legitimate ‘forms’ or parts, which are all potential individuals. It is this Scotism that allows Spinoza to avoid loss. The fiction of a loss in his philosophy could only come from the perspective of that which is no more, whereas the persistence of a ratio is from the perspective of God. It is this which disables death. Here we begin to realise that nothing or no- one happens in this world.

The facies totius universi fails to register any actuality. This is why Spinoza will say ‘nature is always the same’, or that ‘we can easily conceive that all nature is one individual whose parts, that is bodies, vary in infinite ways without any change of the individual’.91 The methodological use of God ensures that the world is nothing or that all specificity is lost (hence Hegel’s accusation of acosmism). The eternity which we are to seek is the very absence of actuality: that which declares this world to be nothing. This eternity endeavours to have this nothing perform as something, while simultaneously remaining in itself nothing so as to prevent there being anything. Every space must be filled to exclude that which it pretends to be: God, Nature, Substance, individuals, emotions, virtue, life, death, belief. As Lermond says, ‘The truth of eternity is an absolute realisation of being for which there can be no this or that, no one or the other, eternity is everything.’92 Spinoza makes God this everything. But, as Baudrillard says, ‘there have always been churches to hide the death of God and to hide the fact that God is everything which is the same thing’.93

What Spinoza does is to collapse every term he uses, employing it so as to exclude its previous meaning, and any possibility of a meaningful return. This is never more so than with his use of the word ‘God’. The consequence of the Ethics is that the world is nothing. But it still acts as if it were something, an act which occupies every space within which something (metaphysical) could be. This ab-use of words even goes to the extreme of using the word ‘being’, which he tellingly likens to an expletive: ‘It is to the existence of modes alone that we can apply the term Duration; the corresponding term for existence of Substance is Eternity, that is infinite enjoyment of existence or – pardon my Latin – of being.’94 For Spinoza every space must be filled. To be so, everything must be its opposite. Only in this way will everything that is be full to the brim with nothing.95 ‘The one must be many, the many must be one.’96 If the one were not many then it would lack and so a space would open up. Likewise with the many: if it were not one then there would be the conceptual space for an other. If the one were one it would be so in the conceptual presence of others, and the same goes for the many. (Hen estin kai pan.) This pathological epistemic anaplerosis is nowhere better illustrated than in Spinoza’s explanation of Adam’s ordeal with the forbidden apple. According to Spinoza, God’s telling Adam not to eat the apple was purely informative, not prohibitive. Empirically the apple happened to be poisonous for Adam and would initiate a de-compossible relationship. This account of the myth manages to exclude the possibility of metaphysical values or worth, and it again represents the impulse to explain everything, or to explain everything away. It will be these explanations that will occupy the place of that which they explain away.

This is the nihilistic logic that has the nothing be as something. Spinoza’s God is vitalistic, and voluntarist, while Nature is transcendental (each being in the absence of the other), so allowing for a plenitudinal nihilism. Hegel said ‘when beginning to philosophize one must first be a Spinozist’.97 It seems that philosophy not only begins with Spinoza but remains with Spinoza. (This was certainly Jacobi’s contention.) Furthermore, Heine is correct in saying that ‘all contemporary philosophies, perhaps without knowing it, are looking through eyeglasses that Baruch Spinoza polishes’.98 Badiou appears to be correct about this Christ of philosophy. For Spinoza does indeed promise nothing." [Genealogy of Morals]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:13 am

Pan-psychism, Stoic/Epicurean Conatal-Hedonism, Spinoza.

Quote :
"Tellingly, for Spinoza, one of the ways in which the means to our ‘supreme’ and universal happiness reveals itself is by an object’s ability to promote our bodily and mental health. Following the rejections found in both Aristotle and the Stoics, Spinoza sees sensual pleasure as an inadequate guiding principle because ‘the mind is so utterly obsessed by it’ that we become hindered from contemplating anything else. In addition to its all-consuming nature, sensual pleasure fails to promote the mind’s well-being because of its ephemeral qualities. Because pleasure is often fleeting, the mind frequently experiences a ‘profound’ sense of depression when it passes, and this in turn affects its overall clarity. As a result, sensual pleasure, like wealth and honour, is said to contribute little to our preservation; instead it often brings about the very causes of our destruction. Like his classical predecessors, Spinoza can be found exhorting his readers to reconsider their unceasing pursuits of pleasure and other chimerical ‘goods’ and to direct their efforts towards the attainment of more permanent and universal objects.

The aim of Spinoza’s ethics as it appears in the TdIE and elsewhere is to demonstrate the ways in which the mind and body are unified with the processes and dictates of the larger natural world, thus trumpeting nature as the only true guide for attaining happiness. As the title of Spinoza’s first work makes explicit, our intellects undergo an ‘emendation’ as they begin to recognise that the fount of virtuous behaviour lies in following nature.

The life in agreement with Nature, first espoused by Zeno and then expanded upon by subsequent Stoic archons and philosophers, is synonymous with the virtuous life, and the goal towards which nature directs us. Diogenes Laertius mentions that Chrysippus argued that following nature was considered ‘appropriate’ because it accurately represented human nature for what it truly was, subordinate to, and dependent upon, the dictates of the larger cosmos. By acting according to our own natures, as Chrysippus and the other Stoics argued, we were only demonstrating our being governed by a law common to all things. What is more, this law is noticeably devoid of subjective notions such as good and bad and is not driven by emotions such as hope and fear. Instead it operates and commands only through the dictates of universal right reason. Spinoza is similarly concerned in his promotion of Nature’s power to highlight the positive aspects of the synergy humans have with an entity that is larger and more powerful than they are. In understanding nature, Spinoza joins the Stoics in believing that errors in judgment become more infrequent and the causes of our actions become more intelligible.

Spinoza constructs the foundation of his theory around the belief that nature prevents things from seeking their own destruction on account of their tending or conatus towards self-preservation and self-improvement. Such self-regarding actions are themselves indicative of nature’s possessing both a general and special type of providence. Each of these may be seen as bearing a resemblance to the discussions of natural preservationist tendencies found in earlier Stoic texts. For example, when general providence is said to be ‘that through which all things are produced and sustained,’ one may see this as largely echoing the sentiments of Seneca when he claimed that nature passes itself completely onto all things.

Striving is said to be ‘[that] which we find in the whole of Nature and in individual things to maintain and preserve their own existence.’ Providence, in other words, becomes a synonym for describing an all-pervasive force whose effects are not merely confined to a biological or psychological account of a thing’s life-preserving tendencies. This ontological recasting of natural tendencies is specifically highlighted in the second sentence. ‘It is manifest,’ Spinoza argues, ‘that no thing could, through its own nature, seek its own annihilation, but, on the contrary, that every thing has in itself a striving to preserve its condition, and to improve itself.’ This account of self-preservation is therefore focused on a thing’s condition rather than its possession of a soul. Further, the discussion of special providence represents an early illustration of what will eventually become the underlying panpsychist claim made in Ethics: that all things are animate to a certain degree and that as part of their ‘animacy’ they display certain natural tendencies. While such a view is only hinted at in the Short Treatise, the usage of ‘things’ conveys Spinoza’s belief that all objects demonstrate a tendency towards self- preservation because they exist as extensions of God:

"For if existence pertains to the nature of a thing, then it is certain that we must not look outside it for its cause; but if such is not the case, then we must always look outside the thing for its cause. Since, however, the first pertains to God alone, it is thereby proved [...] that God alone is the first cause of all things. [...] God then is the cause of, and providence over, particular things only. If particular things had to conform to some other Nature, then they could not conform to their own, and consequently could not be what they truly are."

Relying on the notion of ‘striving’ thus helps to break down the previously held divisions between ‘living’ and ‘non-living’ adhered to in natural philosophy by assimilating these two categories into one larger grouping of bodies that are only differentiated by ‘different degrees of structural complication.’

Instead of remaining at a strictly physical level, Spinoza joins his Stoic predecessors by extending the idea of a relative unity between bodies to all levels of internal organization. However, the full implications of this extension can also create conceptual difficulties that are difficult to grasp. As Michael Della Rocca has pointed out in regards to Spinoza’s panpsychism, ‘no matter how apparently unthinking and inanimate’ a particular object is, he nevertheless attributes mental powers to it.

Germane in form to what appears in the later passages in Ethics, the discussion of providence in Short Treatise intimates that Spinoza’s understanding of animation agrees with what could be found in the Stoic tradition, while simultaneously diverging from the scholastic and Cartesian traditions. Even though Descartes’s writings had suggested, for example, that rocks in a sling, light and other natural bodies possessed conatus, there is no accompanying suggestion that the presence of such a tendency also made these bodies animate. In fact, Descartes is quite clear that these natural motions are not synonymous with animation:

"When I write that the globules of the second element [i.e. matter divided into spherical particles] ‘strive’ to move away from the centers around which they revolve, it should not be thought that I am implying that they have some thought from which this striving proceeds. I mean merely that they are positioned and pushed into motion in such a way that they will in fact travel in that direction, unless they are prevented by some other cause."

What Descartes is careful to maintain, both here specifically in the context of conatus and throughout his philosophy as a whole, is that there is res cogitans, which is animate, and res extensa, which is inanimate. In holding fast to this dichotomous presentation of bodies, Descartes noticeably rejects the Aristotelian understanding of animacy, i.e. that natural bodies possess various capacities for change and motion. While Descartes does suggest that these tendencies may in fact be found in all natural bodies, he limits any discussion about their animacy to only the most complex and rational bodies – i.e., humans. Such divisions, while important for helping Descartes get beyond the scholastic debates on the limits of animate bodies, are themselves largely irrelevant for Spinoza. Because every thing exists as a part of nature, all bodies exhibit the same natural tendencies. The distinction between artificial and natural, animate and inanimate is therefore blurred because of the natural extension and animation of every thing becomes inseparable from its connection with nature.

If one were to uphold the conatus as a type of ‘metaphysical good’ (which it would be if it existed outside of nature’s laws), then one would quickly fall into an infinite regression of attributing a conative power of preservation to the conatus itself, which would itself have a conatus for preserving itself and so on and so on. The only way to break away from such endless attributions is to stop extending a desire [desiderium] for preservation to every individual thing and to recognise that the body’s desire to preserve itself is in fact inseparable from the body itself.This break with the Scholastics revolves around the shared Cartesian-Spinozistic view that the body’s conatus is identical with its essence, and hence cannot be conceived of as any distinct entity or function that exists outside of the actual body. By linking the conatus to natural motion, the need to understand bodies in terms of specific ends is therefore removed as perfection and form have been replaced by active functions and powers to continue in existence. As David Bidney noted, Spinoza used this distinction to launch a two-pronged attack on the Scholastics in his discussion of conatus in Metaphysical Thoughts. Firstly, he defines conatus in terms of a continuous motion or force and characterised it as possessing a staying power that can only be hindered by a greater external power. Secondly, conatus is used to get around the metaphysical difficulty that attends the claim that unmoved things can initiate physical motion. It does this by pointing out the fallacies that arise when we attempt to project our own mental processes onto things that are themselves not in possession of any mental capabilities. Instead, as the text sets out, all natural essences should instead be defined through their actual motive functions. This means appealing to each individual thing’s continuous striving to remain in existence, an argumentative move that results in all natural and rational things coming under one explanatory heading.

However, while Spinoza may have felt compelled to admonish the Scholastics for their confused understanding of conatus in a subsequent elaboration of the philosophers’ account of life, he undermines his earlier argument (and by extension Descartes’s) when he posits a distinction between the force to preserve and the body itself. After suggesting that some will only attribute life to those things which have both soul and body, Spinoza elaborates on his own understanding of the term when he says ‘there is no doubt that it [life] should also be attributed to corporeal things not united to minds and to minds separated from body.’ This extension is possible because life is nothing but the term we use to designate ‘the force through which things persevere in their own being.’ Yet as he continues, such force is different from things themselves, so that we ‘quite properly’ say that things themselves have life.
Only when one speaks of God, whose force to preserve himself is the same as his essence, can the two be conceptually conjoined.

By suggesting that bodies could contain a division between their power to preserve themselves and their actual essence, one cannot help but feel that essence and conatus are in fact not as intertwined in Spinoza’s account of bodies as had appeared to be the case.
In future discussions of self-preservation Spinoza can be found attaching the qualifying phrase ‘insofar as it is able’ [quantum in se est] to his own characterisation of bodies’ natural tendencies. Its inclusion is primarily intended to demonstrate that such strivings exist as a function of an object’s individual bodily powers, or in the case of more complex bodies, their mental powers. This emphasis on potency - i.e. that some bodies are naturally better suited to defend and preserve their existence than others - further lends itself to the establishment of a natural hierarchy for addressing the various types of bodies that exist throughout nature. In this non-exclusive structure it becomes possible to accommodate the fact that more complex bodies are able to rely on both mental and bodily powers to aid in their preservation while less complex bodies such as plants and rocks remain dependent only on their comparatively weaker bodily powers.

I.B. Cohen showed how writers such as Descartes, Gassendi and Newton all relied on the phrase ‘quantum in se est’ as a means of characterising bodies’ natural proportional forces. In their respective accounts such proportional force was correlated to the mass of a body, with the result that larger bodies possessed a greater internal power for staving off their own destruction. This force therefore became a central component in any natural explanation of how bodies were able to remain in their current state of motion. By calculating a particular body’s ability to resist, ‘quantum in se est’ became a useful phrase for capturing the notion that resistance in bodies was in essence ‘quantitatively limited’.
By incorporating ‘quantum in se est’ into their respective primae leges, Descartes and Newton had helped conjoin the inertial physics of the seventeenth century with the classical Epicurean tradition, and in particular, as it had been presented in Lucretius’s well-circulated poem De rerum natura.

What the insertion of the Lucretian phrase served to reiterate more than anything, however, was that the forces necessary for moving, maintaining and resisting were always to be found inside the body, not externally to it. Indeed, when one considers the ways in which Descartes and Spinoza use the phrase in their own writings, what may be said to link their respective accounts with those of the Epicureans is their belief that all bodies exhibit an internal power to resist and preserve themselves and that only larger external forces have the ability to interrupt this natural tendency.

Although Cohen himself did not pick up on any shared conceptualisation between Spinoza and the Epicureans, his account still manages to speak clearly to the larger trend that many of natural philosophy’s most substantial accounts of self- preservation remained partially, but significantly, bound up with Epicurean philosophy.

Yet in what would prove to be his most well-known attempt at explaining human behaviours and demonstrating how freedom from the passions derived from an understanding of Nature’s ‘immutable and fixed order’, Spinoza’s descriptions of self-preserving tendencies and the relationship of the passions with conatus bear an unacknowledged, but clearly detectable, indebtedness to Stoicism.

Drawing from the investigations of Nature and physical bodies in the earlier texts, Ethics relies on a geometrically ordered scientific structure to demonstrate how physics and psychology can be fused together to form a single investigation into Nature. To achieve this ambitious goal, the first part of the work revisits the nature of God, confirming to the reader that existence can only be part of God’s essence and that God, as the efficient cause responsible for all things’ existence, directs every thing to act in particular and determined ways, with particular emphasis being placed on the idea that mind and body are in fact inseparable.

As complex bodies, humans are also subject to the demands of natural desires and appetites and, as such, the physical account of self-preservation developed in texts such as Short Treatise and the Metaphysical Thoughts is transformed into a detailed psychological account of the internal forces that prompt humans to seek out their own preservation.
In the accounts of Cicero, Hierocles and Seneca, an animal’s awareness of its own constitution was seen as nature’s way of reinforcing the intimate connection between mind and body. This was crystallised in the Ciceronian account of self-consciousness, wherein it is said to precede desire and  prompt the animal into action.    

However, while Cicero indicates that such an attachment between mind and body exists in all animals, it is Seneca who draws particular attention to the imperfect nature of the union. As he points out, it is far easier to understand nature than to try to explain it. This is particularly the case with babies and animals, who remain aware of their bodily constitution despite not knowing what a constitution is. Instead, they tend to act according to a vague and incomplete understanding of their body’s needs and desires.

This opacity is also evident in Spinoza’s description of the mind’s inability to understand fully its own powers and weaknesses. When he notes that no one has been able to determine the limits of the body’s capabilities or explain its structure and functions accurately, he is, like the Stoics, reiterating that a true understanding of body is impossible because of our inability to define it outside of its relationship with the mind. Because this connection has never been properly detailed, humans tend to believe that their actions are free because they remain ignorant of the causes which actually determine them. Yet this is not to suggest that the root of these actions always remains hidden away beyond the realm of our understanding. Rather, the source of these natural and primary actions, at least in humans, is revealed when proper weight is given to mental decisions on the one hand and the appetites and physical states of bodies on the other. As Yirmiyahu Yovel has pointed out, the theory of action and living at the heart of Ethics is in fact underpinned by a theory of self-preservation. The account of conatus is intended to blend these two elements in such a way that bodily self-preservation remains the primary consideration even though it is transcended by a prolonged consideration of the mind’s activity. The transition from a purely physical account of conatus to one expressed in terms of virtues and desires that embrace reason over mere survival (what Yovel refers to as ‘conatus intelligendi’) indicates that Stoicism may well have served as a useful supplement to the initial Cartesian understanding of self-preservation. Such a movement away from Cartesian physics to Stoic ethics is not altogether incompatible or contradictory either, since survival remains the unifying theme throughout each account. In turning to the principal discussion of bodily preservation in Ethics the tendency is first portrayed via the now familiar non-psychological description, with particular emphasis again being laid on the claim that ‘all things’ possess a conatus regardless of their mental capabilities.

There may then be said to be two distinct versions of conatus operating in Ethics. In the first, we are driven to preserve ourselves by whatever mental and bodily powers are at our disposal. However, in the second and ‘richer and more coherent’ version, our conatus facilitates our power to express ourselves and enhance our existence. Activity and happiness come to factor into our consideration of what ‘existence’ ultimately entails and as a result the promotion of our self-preservation evolves from a simple directive of nature into a more dynamic and mentally fulfilling endeavour. In dissecting the Spinozistic conatus, survival and rationalism may be seen to go hand-in-hand because minds and bodies are presented as inextricably linked to each other. As Spinoza argues, the mind remains aware of its conatus solely because it possesses an idea of its body.

There are, however, certain strivings that can only be said to occur in the mind and these are referred to as ‘will’.
While the interconnectedness of mind and body makes it difficult for the mind to act unilaterally, it is able to understand things beyond the body’s ‘vicissitudes’. In this way, the mind reveals itself to be a dynamic thing concerned with, and affected by, its own specific objects. To help maintain the distinction that Spinoza intends, the will becomes synonymous with the mind’s intellect, a power that helps bring about those things that promote our self- preservation.

This distinction between mental and mind-body conatus is important since when strivings are said to be the result of the mind and body working in unison it is no longer said to be indicative of ‘will’ but rather ‘appetite’. This type of striving is far more primitive, as is made clear when it is said to constitute the essence of humans (and animals) and to determine them to act in ways that promote their preservation, the fundamental tendency of a body. However, the ways in which appetite expresses itself vary since each individual thing is governed by its own particular nature. There is also no substantial difference between a body’s appetite and its desire, in that the latter implies a consciousness of the former. The power of appetite and desire are such that even ‘the good’ is relegated to being but a function of them - we do not endeavour, will, and desire things because they are good, but rather consider them to be good precisely because we endeavour, will and desire them. Depending upon the outcome of these pursuits the mind experiences either an increase or decrease in its perception of its conative powers, with the result that it passes into a state of greater or lesser perfection. It is through these ‘passive transitions’ (passiones) that we come to understand how the primary emotions such as desire, pleasure [laetitia] and pain [tristitia], those chief considerations in the Aristotelian and Epicurean accounts of natural action, are able to affect the mind’s power to preserve itself.166 However, by suggesting that these passive states and active emotions have a central role to play in our understanding of why we pursue some things and avoid others, Spinoza has also been said to have made some of Stoicism’s most central considerations and claims about self-preservation his own.

The emotions exist in Spinoza’s account as natural mental reactions to our perceptions of how well we are able to persevere in our existence. Since our desire to preserve ourselves is synonymous with our essence, the mind is said always to endeavour, insofar as it is able, to think of those things which increase the body’s power of activity. As Susan James has argued, this account of the passions as mental transitions was notable for its portrayal of things such as desire, pleasure and pain as functional ideas that served to demonstrate the complex natural dispositions humans have towards their own preservation. Our passions exist as an integral component in an elaborate mental structure in which the emotions of pleasure, pain and desire are themselves guided by the larger causal chain in nature that suggests self-preservation to all things. Passions therefore become as natural as conatus itself and, because Spinoza does not hold to a dichotomous soul-body view like Descartes, the mind and body work in tandem to promote the preservation of the entire individual.

Spinoza’s adoption of pleasure, pain and desire as the ‘primary’ emotions has its genesis largely in the work of Cicero, who relied on mental pleasure and pain, and the coupling of desire and fear to describe the natural inclinations and aversions all humans possessed. As Carnois notes, Stoic hormê and Spinozistic conatus appear to be linked in two distinct ways: they both suggest that individuals strive to realize themselves fully in accordance with their own specific nature, and they suggest that these strivings are directed towards a specific, and in both cases virtuous, type of living. Because Nature does not act with any particular end in view, and because compiling a catalogue of all the emotional variations found in humans would be impossible, the emphasis throughout both Stoic and Spinozistic ethics remains firmly focused on the efficient rather than the teleological cause.

The link between virtue and preservation features elsewhere in Spinoza’s argument, as for example when he argues that the more we strive to preserve ourselves and seek our own advantage the more we are endowed with virtue. Moreover, if we neglect our preservation, thus failing to act in full accordance with our nature, then our virtue diminishes and we are said to be weak. However, while Spinoza and Cicero appear to have found a common ground for expressing the desiderative behaviours of humans and linking these up with virtuous activity, there remains an incongruence when one considers how each situates the emotions of pleasure and pain in their account of natural tendencies.

The failure of the Stoic texts to use the ‘transitions’ of pleasure and pain to explain the mental effects of our natural desires is largely the result of the school’s unwillingness to integrate the passions into their central claim that humans possess a natural tendency to preserve themselves. Only in Diogenes Laertius’s text can one find something similar to what Spinoza is expressing. Diogenes does at least suggest that the Stoics considered pleasure a ‘by-product’ of the impulse that is comparable to an animal or plant in full bloom. It would therefore be difficult to suggest that the Stoic portrayal of pleasure captures the sense of the mind undergoing a positive increase in its powers as Spinoza’s account does. Further, given that no more attention is paid by the Stoics to the role of pleasure in the context of self-preservation, and their generally negative or indifferent characterisations of pleasure, the notion of pleasure as having a positive role to play in the preservation of the body is lacking. However, as Spinoza makes clear, we constantly endeavour to bring about whatever we imagine is conducive to pleasure and the mind, insofar as it is able, only tries to think of those things which affirm its power of activity. We do this not only because of pleasure’s ameliorating properties but also because we see others pursuing it as well.

The Stoics certainly believed the emotions were capable of producing an effect on the mind; for example, pain is said to bring about a mental contraction while pleasure instils a sense of elation. Yet while the idea of an increase and decrease in the mind’s powers appears to resonate to some extent with the Stoic discussion of eupatheiai, there is no attempt on the part of Seneca, Cicero or any other Stoic to link up such fluctuations with the actual impulse towards self-preservation. Instead the Stoics seek to counsel as to the negative effects of all the passions and expunge them from their ethics on account of their ability to impart unhappiness and bring about improper behaviours. In fact, such was the perceived ruthlessness of the Stoic philosophers to bring about the life free from the turbulence of the passions that Spinoza, in a rare direct mention of the school, admonishes them for their insistence on believing that the passions could be completely eradicated through a training of the will.

Instead of turning to the Stoic tradition for his understanding of pleasure and pain in aiding self-preservation, Spinoza would have found more support for his project in Epicurean and Aristotelian ethics, which had incorporated the opposing emotions of pleasure and pain to great effect in their accounts of natural behaviour.

In the Epicurean portrayal, pleasure and pain exist as feelings common to all animate beings and are said to be the result of something’s either being perceived as favourable or hostile. In this formulation there exist certain natural and necessary desires, with those who have obtained a ‘clear and certain understanding’ of nature coming to prefer things that instil pleasure in the mind. In particular, these desires are said to focus on securing the health of the body and tranquillity in the mind, suggesting that the Epicureans also recognise pleasure’s ability to highlight the interconnectedness of body and mind. Indeed, so important is pleasure to the individual that Epicurus suggests that it serves as the criterion of what constitutes the good, while pain implicitly serves as the criterion of evil. This important ethical function is picked up on by Spinoza, as for example when he takes pleasure and pain to be none other than the individual’s conscious acknowledgement of what is good and evil. Such designations, however, are not confined only to Epicurean thought and the possibility remains that Spinoza could have also incorporated some of the views of Aristotle into his own account of pleasure and pain. As in the Epicurean account, the importance of pleasure and pain had earlier been taken by Aristotle to be the ‘province of the political philosopher,’ for it was through his knowledge of the two that he could adduce what was good and what was bad. Indeed pleasure can be considered as a good in part because it applies to natural constitutions and states. The positive evaluation and naturalness of pleasure found in the Epicurean and Spinozistic accounts is also captured by Aristotle, as for example when he uses pleasure to describe those processes which restore the individual back to their healthy and natural state. These pleasures are able to exist and be considered apart from our natural appetite and pains, a view that enables Aristotle, like Spinoza, to conceive of each as distinct and imperceptible activities that occur in the mind rather than as actual physical processes.

The ability of pleasure and pain to instil in us a sense of good and evil becomes an important consideration in how the emotions inform our behaviours, especially when such emotive states are said to be in conflict. When this happens the emotions become an internal threat to our conatus because they blur the distinction between good and evil. As Spinoza points out repeatedly, our existence in nature is already tenuous since we cannot control the external causes that may bring about our destruction. Because of the tenuousness of our existence, it is in our interest to understand the emotions and to use our knowledge of them to minimize their potentially negative effect on our conatus.

Whereas the Stoics had tended to see all emotions as inherently bad and unrelated to the success of the individual in maintaining their existence, Spinoza wants to show how desire and the pleasurable emotions must work in tandem if they are to promote the individual’s power to exist in the face of such greater and destructive emotive forces. This is why desires which are rooted in pleasure, and hence assist the conatus, are said to outweigh those desires which take their root in pain. Since desire is the essence of man, which is none other than the striving to preserve himself, its power is couched in internal and human terms. Yet by attaching it to pleasurable emotions, whose power is derived from external causes, this power can be said to increase markedly. In the case of pain such an increase cannot be said to occur for it only exists as an external cause that does not partake in the power of human desire.

What Spinoza has established thus far is that the power to preserve ourselves is not altogether assured when our actions are the result of following internal desires and external emotions. Our conative powers are constantly assailed and threatened by forces that are largely beyond our control, but insofar as we are able to experience pleasurable emotions we retain a means of defending ourselves and promoting our internal power. However, this is by no means a defence that can be said to be either constant or impregnable. The threat of being overcome by negative emotions at any time simply remains too great, and the consequences for our mental and bodily stability too disruptive, for us to remain entirely dependent upon the possible effectiveness of any pleasurable emotional parry. Like the Stoics, Spinoza also recognised that suicide remained an option when the mind’s powers had been diminished by the negative emotions. Humans, though, are not only governed by their primitive desire for self-preservation; by showing how conflicted we are when we allow the emotions to dictate our behaviours Spinoza is in fact showing why humans need to understand better the weapons nature has left at our disposal. This marks a shift in how Spinoza’s account of self-preservation is presented – from that of an active conatus being subjected to the passive transitions of pleasure and pain imparted by a multitude of external emotions, to an account of conatus that focuses on the ability of internal rational activity to promote and strengthen its natural strivings.

When one considers the ways in which humans use reason to protect themselves, and particular from the actions of others, Spinoza’s account of self- preservation appears to have incurred two separate, but not incompatible, debts. In the first instance, one could well see the transition from an appetitive account of self- preservation to a rational one as bearing the imprint of the transition from personal oikeiōsis to social oikeiōsis as found largely in the work of Cicero. In his account as humans begin to acquire reason, they begin to see that the best means of securing themselves and their property lies through social cooperation. As they move away from a life guided purely by their instinct for self-preservation, reason suggests increased interactivity and the strengthened social bonds liberate the individual from focusing solely on their preservation and instead enable the life of the philosopher. The benefits of moving from instinctive to rational living are similarly picked up on by Spinoza when, having reiterated that the laws of nature dictate to us the preservation of our own body, he recognises the impossibility of preserving oneself without requiring external things or living a life unrelated to things outside ourselves. Preservation of the individual and the perfection of mind do not therefore come about through isolated existence. Rather they both come about by understanding the many advantageous things which exist externally to us, and whose procurement aids us in preserving ourselves.

As such, there is nothing more advantageous to humans than other humans, and as we come to establish harmony between our bodies and minds the individual goal of self-preservation becomes a commonly shared goal of self-preservation.

Although animals may be less in agreement with our nature than other humans, this does not mean that individuals are capable of complete agreement. In both the Ciceronian and Spinozistic accounts there is the caveat that, although humans may procure their security more easily by working in concert, at no point can any human be said to preserve themselves for the sake of something else. While the individual’s conatus may thus be said to be strengthened through mutual cooperation, in no way can it also be said to have been transcended by this newly created social order. This tension between the natural desires of the individual and society is picked up by Cicero, who sees it as ‘quite in accordance with nature’ that each man should be more eager to acquire the necessities of life for himself than to provide them for others. However, nature forbids us to acquire the wealth, resources and opportunities we need to preserve ourselves by directly interfering with the efforts of others.There is therefore much that would seem to suggest that the social aspects in Spinoza’s notion of self-preservation are Stoic in their derivation. Like Cicero, Spinoza sees a distinct transition occurring between lives lived according to the dictates of nature and those lived in accordance with reason, while Spinoza posits a distinction between the imaginative and rational living. He suggests that it is only in the company of other humans that our preservation is truly promoted and that the mutual friendship and happiness promoted in the social and political spheres fortifies our nature. Moreover, like the Stoics, Spinoza also recognises the divisiveness of the passions and the ability of reason to unify the strivings of humans to collectively promote their existence and increased understanding of the world they inhabit.

Like Hobbes and Grotius, Spinoza crafts his account of the formation of the state around the notion that self-preservation is what initially drives individuals to seek out the company of others. This is because all see the desire for preserving the body as a manifestation of the ‘supreme law of Nature’. Spinoza, however, does not agree with the Epicurean or Hobbesian contention that a fear of death provides the sole motivation for establishing social compacts. While he does admit that ‘there is nobody who does not desire to live in safety free from fear, as far as is possible,’ the driving force behind social formation is said to be necessity.

Moreover, necessity dictates that individual rights be placed into ‘common ownership’ and that the individual appetite guiding individuals outside of the social setting yield to the dictates of reason.229 As we have seen, the transition from a life driven by appetite to one of reason resides at the heart of Stoic oikeiōsis. By suggesting that individuals ‘keep appetite in check insofar as it tends to another’s hurt, to do to no one what they would not want done to themselves, and to uphold another’s right as they would their own,’ Spinoza upholds the importance of ‘other- awareness’ as Cicero, Seneca and Hierocles had in their own accounts of explaining justice in social relations.

Although self-preservation and reason are promoted through common living, Spinoza believed that nature alone could not ensure the survival of the civil setting. Instead, and this is where Spinoza may be read as an Epicurean-Hobbesian, he suggests these necessarily established social unions are solidified by way of a compact with others. As a result of these agreements the individual is said to be relieved of the burden of looking after their security and property and are able to seek out the ways of bettering their condition. Yet Spinoza does not follow Hobbes in suggesting that covenants made through fear are binding. Rejecting Hobbes’s claim that an agreement made with a robber in return for one’s life is valid, Spinoza reiterates that it is individual power and the natural inclination to avoid evil which ultimately decide whether a promise made under duress remains unbroken. Thus fear cannot be said to bind us to our promises. Spinoza argues, instead, that it is utility which plays the strongest role in deciding whether a compact remains in force.

Although individuals may transfer their right of self-judgement and natural powers to the community, for the state to retain sovereignty over its members it must not abuse its position. This minimises the danger of submitting oneself absolutely, Spinoza argues, as sovereign powers are always liable to shift from one individual to another or from one body of individuals to another. The sovereign power is most likely to be retained by those who control the appetites of their subjects and recommend reason as the means towards peace and harmony.

Hobbes and Spinoza also differ about the status of self-preservation once inside the state. For example, Spinoza sees society operating largely in accordance with the same natural principles that guide individuals outside of the state, with the resulting harmony owing to the fact that individuals who pursue virtue also come to desire it for others as well. This sentiment fell into line, for example, with what Spinoza’s friends the De la Court brothers and Van den Enden had each suggested in their own accounts of political society. Showing an affinity for the arguments of Aristotle, the Stoics and more recently Grotius, they assert that ‘self-love is the origin of all human actions,’ while elsewhere arguing that ‘self-preservation is the supreme law’ which governs the activities of all men. It is then perhaps not surprising that Spinoza also comes to suggest that reason promotes this common highest good to all men because such a good is in no way foreign to our very essence. Since our essential desires are rooted in reason they are thus accessible to all and may be said to govern all. Yet the idea of extrapolated individual desires maintaining social cohesion is not to be found in Hobbes. Instead, as he points out repeatedly, it is because men fear each other that they are willing to transfer their natural right of security to a greater power.

The Hobbesian and Spinozistic conceptions of society appear, despite Spinoza’s indication to the contrary, to have much in common regarding the inviolable status of the natural law to self-preservation within the State and as regards the transfer of others which aid us in attaining that goal. We enjoy a continued right to defend ourselves in the State according to each philosopher, but we are no longer entitled to mete out revenge as we see fit nor to adjudicate between what is good and bad. Instead, we surrender these natural aides to our preservation to the sovereign so that ‘common rules of behaviour and laws’ may be established with our preservation becoming an integral part of the State itself.
However, like Hobbes, he does not defer to the power of nature to explain sociability, but rather turns to the efficacy of covenants, necessity and utility favoured in the Epicurean accounts to explain the legal and psychological mechanisms responsible for turning self-love into a concern for the well-being of others." [Justin Jacobs, Self-preservation in Hobbes and Spinoza]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:06 am

When an conjunction of (inter)acting patterns reaches the level of self-consciousness, unable to see how each pattern participating in conjunction, adding/subtracting to other patterns, will believe that it was inevitable, because there's some plan at work, some secret motive.

There are many examples of this pattern congruence unbalancing to the point of the body turning on itself not to self-preserve but to self-destruct.

The act of projecting upon world what is absent in it, is a Nihilistic psychosis.
The absence of an underlying order, and motive/meaning, is terrifying to the mind, then calling this absence Nil, negative, when the meaning and motive is its own construct, and the positive part of its own existence.

The desire to find out there as is missing in there, or to project self as universal truth, is how religion begins.

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Tue May 31, 2016 1:07 pm

Gellner wrote:
"A good deal of metaphysics, and certain kinds of ethics, may be seen as instances of the flight from precariousness. A typical form this ambition assumes is that of a pursuit of a Highest Good which includes among its merits that of not being liable to let you down. Spinoza is a good example of this: he informs us that he resolved to look for a Highest Good which, unlike lesser Goods, could not prove even partly an evil in disguise on attainment. The doubt that whatever he found might still let him down he silenced with the argument, reminiscent of the ontological proof, that it could not prove deceptive and precarious, being defined as just that which has no such snags.

The commonest advice for exorcizing precariousness is the ethics of recognizing necessity. Such ethics shamelessly turn upside down the normal meaning of ‘freedom’ which is ‘ignorance of necessity’, if it is to be defined in terms of necessity at all, and advise us to like whatever is bound to happen so to speak ex officio, because it is bound to happen. If we succeed in adjusting our desires and values in such a manner, the future can indeed hold no terrors for us. Such stoicism may be genuine in the sense of honestly restricting itself to recommending acceptance of whatever happens, without prejudging at all what it is that will happen. One can hardly imagine this really being practised, though one cannot but feel admiration for those who try. Yet it can also come to include predictions about the future more specific than the initial and modest ‘what will happen, will happen’ but claiming similar certainty. This is the case of those who elude precariousness by recognizing a necessity which is both specific and congenial to them (by some lucky coincidence). Both in the modest and genuine, and in the bogus and expanded, form, these theories are open to the criticism that games in which losing is impossible, winning is pointless. We cannot both take part in a genuine game and be certain of success, much as we would like to. It has been said that life is not a spectacle but a predicament; the truth really is that we need and like it that way, and even artificially turn spectacles into predicaments, with the help of bookmakers and others.

Ethical theories such as the one discussed may be combined with metaphysics to the effect that there are some general truths independently and reliably knowable, which yet at the same time account for all that is to be explained. If this were so, corrigibility would indeed be successfully eliminated, and intelligence or some kind of insight would suffice to free us from precariousness.

But if metaphysicians try to procure security for us by eliminating contingency, perhaps the motives of some empiricists are similar. For if we cannot totally eliminate contingency, the next best thing might perhaps be totally to eliminate necessary truth; and that is, notoriously, the empiricist’s manner of spending his time, devoting himself to giving psychologistic or linguistic accounts of apparent instances of necessity. The model of the world suggested by extreme metaphysics, a model in which contingency is universally and symmetrically diffused, is not as consoling as the necessarily ordered world of the metaphysician; but at least it is better than the compromise in which necessity and contingency are mixed up higgledy-piggledy without even clear and orderly lines of demarcation. The very pure empiricist offers us the security of knowing that everything is equally insecure. As Thurber says, there is no safety in numbers or in anything else. Metaphysicians try to tie knots in the strings, empiricists point to their looseness, Existentialists make a virtue (of necessity or otherwise) of it." [The Devil in Modern Philosophy]

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Tue May 31, 2016 1:16 pm

I see things utterly differently than Spinoza; perhaps in reverse; if reality is not described as precarious, the description is obviously quite pointless. Reality is precarious, and the definition should reflect that, and offer no escape from it. Hence, my focus on values - these are the most precarious things in the world! And yet they sustain all actions - oh how precarious the very essence of action is - the certainty of change! No certainty whatsoever as to the outcome! Beautiful, this is Dionysian.

Furthermore, I define or understand freedom, personal freedom, as embodyig necessity. A weak man can never be free. A strong man who has no choice, according to himself, but to enact his total strength for the highest cause, is actually the freest; he is in the supremely privileged position of willing his values to be his values.

This is the 'mundane', i.e. non metaphysical affirmation, replacing the affirmation of the ER - no eternity is needed to make an act fully ontological and absolute. Just a strong goddamned will, a powerful heart, a 'man out of one piece'.
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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Tue May 31, 2016 1:28 pm

Haven't you just stated this?

Fixed wrote:
distortion due to perspective is not only necessary but the very substance of perception, and thus for all intents and purposes of the perceived, reality itself.

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How is this hard logic?

What does efficiency amount to, when it is the "very substance" of perception? Are you not indicating design?

Here's another one from you;

Fixed wrote:
the bottom line is, it seems to me, to adapt while maintaining the original structural integrity. I call this self-valuing (have been calling it that since may 2011) - it means to respond to the world in a way that sustains ones own highest values.
As the world changes, this requires that we too adapt; but not so as to become an entirely different entity; not to 'betray our soul' so to speak

But isnt this exactly what James has also been saying by his Rational Anentropic harmony?

Its like asking to assume someone born driving within the already dotted lines on the road, and all he has to do is keep his hand on the steering wheel and the foot on the brakes and "adapt" to the world - the oncoming cars and trucks, "adjusting" his steering a little to the left now, a little to the right now, sometimes overtaking another car [dominating], sometimes slowing down, sometimes parking, refueling…
Or someone not born already driving within the already dotted lines, but in deviation, simply has to steer back and get in lane to recover his self-integrity...

How is this idea of 'harmony' - not pure stagnant closed conatal epicurean hedonism?

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:59 pm

Lyssa wrote:
Haven't you just stated this?

Fixed wrote:
distortion due to perspective is not only necessary but the very substance of perception, and thus for all intents and purposes of the perceived, reality itself.

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How is this hard logic?

The hardness of any logic is measured by its completeness.
Analytic philosophy is empty, its logic isnt really logic.

Continental philosophy has laboriously, over the ages, introduced a few Synthetic concepts, such as Eros, Power, Will, etc.

VO is a logic forced from such Synthetic concepts.
Its hardness is due to no Synthetic concept escaping or negating it.

Synthetic Philosophical concepts however rely primarily on Life, not on Text.

Hence, VO; it can only be understood by being applied; Synthesis of Thought and World; Mastery.

Quote :
What does efficiency amount to, when it is the "very substance" of perception? Are you not indicating design?

Certainly not. The high level of efficiency, the closeness to perfection of the physical universe is simply statistical necessity; perfection is the outcome of endless 'errors'; i.e. states that simply could not endure.

It is Synthetically Logical in an absolute sense that whatever survives the limitless onslaught of pure possibility becomes Necessity, and Law.

Quote :
Here's another one from you;

Fixed wrote:
the bottom line is, it seems to me, to adapt while maintaining the original structural integrity. I call this self-valuing (have been calling it that since may 2011) - it means to respond to the world in a way that sustains ones own highest values.
As the world changes, this requires that we too adapt; but not so as to become an entirely different entity; not to 'betray our soul' so to speak

But isnt this exactly what James has also been saying by his Rational Anentropic harmony?

No, because VO does not describe the integrity in terms of Affectance but of Values; widely different concepts, not really applicable to each other.

Affectance is analytical; Value is synthetic.

The analytic can not deal with value. It thinks value is a byproduct.

James and I worked parallel for a good year or two, he was constantly trying to convince me to make VO analytical; I haven't been able to make him see that this would rid it of all its substance, and thus of its logic.

VO gives Logic as its own substance, not as the ground to substance, as RM does.

Quote :
Its like asking to assume someone born driving within the already dotted lines on the road, and all he has to do is keep his hand on the steering wheel and the foot on the brakes and "adapt" to the world - the oncoming cars and trucks, "adjusting" his steering a little to the left now, a little to the right now, sometimes overtaking another car [dominating], sometimes slowing down, sometimes parking, refueling…
Or someone not born already driving within the already dotted lines, but in deviation, simply has to steer back and get in lane to recover his self-integrity...

How is this idea of 'harmony' - not pure stagnant closed conatal epicurean hedonism?

If it is Affectance, it is enclosed. But Value is a completely different issue.
A harmony of values can easily mean physical death. A structural integrity of Valuing can, and usually does mean an entity that makes its own road, and conditions the world thereby.

The basic difference between RM and VO is that RM takes conditions as primary to entity, whereas VO holds entity the primary, irreducible condition;
As I see it, every infinitesimal instance of Affectance must be self-valuing; i.e. it must be responsive to the outside, therefore be anchored to itself somehow on the inside;

this is the inscrutable mystery that we only attain to by reaching for the very heights of our complex human existence; at the heights of cosmic creation we can finally peer down into the nature of things.

From a stance of mediocrity or normalcy, or basic human being, Obviously there is no way to attain to understanding of the fundamentally powerful fact of existence.

VO is a philosophy that tests the limits of the mind. RM as well as other a-priori-objectivisms basically skip he entire step of 'knowing thyself' - they do not have the discipline of setting a context.

VO is a means to properly contextualize different concepts so as to integrate them.

No concept could ever replace or approach the significance of Value.
As obvious as that is, I seem to be the first one to have fully accepted it.
Of course, Nietzsche was the one who paved the way for it; those interested would do well to investigate the frequency of the occurrence of this concept versus that of Power.

For N, Power and Value were already the same. He did not have the means to make that perfectly clear, but the forged the metals.
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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:26 pm

Fixed wrote:
Lyssa wrote:
Here's another one from you;

Fixed wrote:
the bottom line is, it seems to me, to adapt while maintaining the original structural integrity. I call this self-valuing (have been calling it that since may 2011) - it means to respond to the world in a way that sustains ones own highest values.
As the world changes, this requires that we too adapt; but not so as to become an entirely different entity; not to 'betray our soul' so to speak

But isnt this exactly what James has also been saying by his Rational Anentropic harmony?

No, because VO does not describe the integrity in terms of Affectance but of Values; widely different concepts, not really applicable to each other.

Affectance is analytical; Value is synthetic.

The analytic can not deal with value. It thinks value is a byproduct.


I know the difference:

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I am speaking of the similarity.

It doesn't matter if Spinoza goes from many to one, or Leibniz goes from one to many,, like if James approaches it from a rational angle, and you approach it from a monadological angle, it still has the same flower for its aim, even if the approach be different.
While I get the difference of James positing value existing as a subset of conditions, and you positing conditions as subsets of valuing, the objective you both adhere to is anentropic harmony [not affectance].

To you both, deviation from "original structural integrity" is what tampers with efficient cohering. Happiness is the maximization of the innate entelechy… all the configurations that manage to become laws within an original design, a set of values…

You have stated yourself that the aim of VO is to make unconscious the love that Xt. made too conscious…

The blessed feeling, the kingdom within one, etc.
James and you couldn't be more in agreement on the decisive vision/aim.


Fixed wrote:
this is the inscrutable mystery that we only attain to by reaching for the very heights of our complex human existence; at the heights of cosmic creation we can finally peer down into the nature of things.

From a stance of mediocrity or normalcy, or basic human being, Obviously there is no way to attain to understanding of the fundamentally powerful fact of existence.

True; but its also true that any madman can claim no one else has access to the nuanced reality his passion enables him…, and this kind of unverifiable postmodern relativism was never Nietzsche's in any case.

The light sent from the stars reach late, what is said ahead today, can only be seen tomorrow,, but his point was they could be seen, and the light does reach. There is an objective empirical verification - the enhancement or the diminishment of life and the highest forms of life attained so far, would stand as the selective criterion.
By which token, VO - by already claiming diversity is a good and victory in itself, diminishes the selective pressure for creating those conditions whereby a man selects himself to attain to that elevated spirit of affirming diversity as a good…  

By guaranteeing that every existence is already a victory, why would any man rise to want to affirm the world, when its already affirmed for him, when every plurality is already a value?

By this token, any idiot, any 'Jesus' can simply refute another and feel a 'master' or a 'proud spirit' or a 'model of health' by claiming, the other does not have the passion he does. Consequently, a view that sets Diversity not as a product of agonistic natural selection, but as a law already confirming it as valuable in itself, is ripe for dysgenics and is on the whole life-stunting.

VO spelled short is the "absolutization of relativism".

The end to the Philosopher's culmination into a law-giver, for VO says, "judge not", everthing is valuable in its own right...


Fixed wrote:
VO is a means to properly contextualize different concepts so as to integrate them.

The limbs, I remember...

The force of what Humanity can unleash when it comes together only from its strengths… is value dissolving into power, as opposed to N.'s power differentiating into value.

If a group of dadaists or minimalists each from their own excess, their 'artistic genius', collaborated together to found a successful gallery or a trend-setting style of art, a positive successful outcome automatically becomes proof of highest value. Anything can parade as art when it can flash power.
The above is the opposite of what N. intended. That each individual participating in the same arena of an art competition, for example, a dadaist and a minimalist, etc. would have the pathos of value-distance exposed by their WTP.

Doesn't this sound familiar?

Quote :
"Sadness weaken one’s power to exist, whereas actions, active affections and joy make one more powerful, having more essence, more conatus. There are metaphysical and logials correspondences between essentia, conatus, potentia, vita (life), appetitus (man’s essence), virtus (understood in the Machiavellian sense of manly power, not humble virtue) in Spinoza’s system. What should be rememberd is that power, desire and essence are closely related in Spinoza."

Quote :
"A body of any kind is defined by the possible relation into which it may enter. This is its power of acting. If the bodies agree " in nature" it is a joyful passive affection that increases the bodies’ power to act. If not, sadness occur and either body or both may be decompose the relationship , the new "body".

The question arises immediately: How can we get as many active affections and as little passive ones as possible ? How do we experience as much (self-caused) joy as possible?"

Xt. was that gathering of all the human goodness from everywhere and anywhere under the banner of 'judge not'…, and what did it produce in the name of love and at what cost?



Fixed wrote:
No concept could ever replace or approach the significance of Value.

WTP precedes value… forever and ever..
Its just how it is.

Fixed wrote:
As obvious as that is, I seem to be the first one to have fully accepted it.

Its been accepted since Plotinus.

When you conclude Intelligent design in the con-sequential manner, that because intelligence evolved in the universe, the universe is intelligent, you show me why it is only you who is the first one to accept it in contemporary times.

No one would want to be the one to make such a blunder.

Fixed wrote:
For N, Power and Value were already the same. He did not have the means to make that perfectly clear, but the forged the metals.

You are a Liar.

Anyone is free to read him and check the Value Ontology thread here, or the Performance Ontology thread on ILP and come to their own conclusion.

N. was totally against any dishonest insertion of any subjectivity or value into the universe. Wherever power and value have been discussed, one will notice his intention of precisely Not collapsing the two together -

Some appetizers:

Nietzsche wrote:
"The whole history of a ‘thing’, an organ, a tradition can to this extent be a continuous chain of signs, continually revealing new interpretations and adaptations, the causes of which need not be connected even amongst themselves, but rather sometimes just follow and replace one another at random... The form is fluid, the ‘meaning’ [Sinn] even more so." [JW, 2.12]

- no valuing.

Nietzsche wrote:
"""Attraction" and "repulsion" in a purely mechanistic sense are complete fictions: a word. We cannot think of an attraction divorced from an intention.- The will to take possession of a thing or to defend oneself against it and repel it - that, we "understand": that would be an interpretation of which we could make use."[WTP, 627]

To retrogress this as a value-selfing to make an ontological case for a Kabalistic/Plotinian "Intelligent Mind" or "Intelligent Design" is simply duplicitous.


All is valuable is a moral religion.
All is will-to-power is an amoral philosophy.

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:48 pm

Quote :
VO says, "judge not", everthing is valuable in its own right...

Prrrfl.

VO says the precise opposite. We can not exist wihtout judging.

Too bad you let the mentally handicapped daylaborer Satyr rule over your intellect.... it's such a perversity to see you reduced to a moron whenever I stop protecting him.


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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:49 pm

We had a nice stretch again. See you in a couple of months maybe, when you recover your intelligence.
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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:53 pm

Fabulous exit... so much drama.

Iak recedes into the shadows... his gestures were not enough to impress, not flamboyant, not extreme, not impressive enough, for such numb minds.
The magic spells had failed. He had failed Abraham.
He had been un-covered.
Time to heal, come up with a new plan, settle for the men-children clamouring to be his children.
Soon a clever plan will be concocted, to taunt, from afar... to draw them back, to make them look his way, when the men-children bored him, once more, and they were no longer enough for his fragile ego, and slavish spirit.
He had failed his God of nil, dressed in positivist drab, drag-queen, paraphernalia.
They could not accepted his genius, he the true heir of the commander.
Nobody gets it... nobody understands.
It is simple, but complex, you must feel it, heart it, accept it into your spirit, to see the magic.
Nobody could appreciate the magician - his offering not for this age.
He would have to return with new ways, new words, new tricks.
He will make them see his brilliance.  
Not even the commander appreciated him... thought of him another Christian, a Jew.
Not even he saw who and what he truly was.

Maybe a new word, to baptize his new God, rename him for the children - freshen up the image, repackage recycled garbage, for a new generation of idiots.

One having no father, the other no sons, they were bromancers, dancers, prancers., looking to the other for what they could not find in self.

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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:58 pm

A nihilist may flip meanings to opposites easily, whenever it wants. To declare something exists, they may say it exists in their mind or that it exists out in the world. An "idea" becomes both a physical manifestation/interaction and one that is completely separate from the world - Descartes' "idea".

It's all in your head.
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PostSubject: Re: Spinoza Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:01 pm

Black Panther wrote:
We had a nice stretch again. See you in a couple of months maybe, when you recover your intelligence.

Sure, you wont stay? Would love to have you for dinner…

When a tin-man discovers he is on some path he calls the art of living, but not yet upto the (he)art of loving in the grand style he encounters in someone, he does what is proper - throws a fit of smoke and mirrors to excuse himself as acknowledgement of the height he is yet to ascend.

It was well-received.

cheers dearest.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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