spinoza

On ne sait pas ce que peut le corps

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The new “eyes wide shut” illusion uses a standard enlarging (shaving or makeup) mirror. Close one eye and look at the closed eye in the mirror; the eye should take up most of the mirror. Switch eyes to see the other closed eye. Switch back-and-forth a few times, then open both eyes. You see an open eye. Which eye is it? To find out, close one eye. Whichever you close, that’s the eye you see. How can this be possible? The brain is fusing two images of the two eyes.

{ Perception | Continue reading | Thanks Brad! }

However, no one has hitherto laid down the limits to the powers of the body, that is, no one has as yet been taught by experience what the body can accomplish solely by the laws of nature, in so far as she is regarded as extension. No one hitherto has gained such an accurate knowledge of the bodily mechanism, that he can explain all its functions; nor need I call attention to the fact that many actions are observed in the lower animals, which far transcend human sagacity, and that somnambulists do many things in their sleep, which they would not venture to do when awake: these instances are enough to show, that the body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at.

Again, no one knows how or by what means the mind moves the body, nor how many various degrees of motion it can impart to the body, nor how quickly it can move it.

{ Spinoza, Ethics, III, Proposition II, Scholium | Continue reading }

unrelated { eye colour may not be a priority when choosing a partner }

On his wise shoulders through the checkerwork of leaves the sun flung spangles, dancing coins

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Two theoretical frameworks have been proposed to account for the representation of truth and falsity in human memory: the Cartesian model and the Spinozan model. Both models presume that during information processing a mental representation of the information is stored along with a tag indicating its truth value. However, the two models disagree on the nature of these tags. According to the Cartesian model, true information receives a “true” tag and false information receives a “false” tag. In contrast, the Spinozan model claims that only false information receives a “false” tag, whereas untagged information is automatically accepted as true. […]

The results of both experiments clearly contradict the Spinozan model but can be explained in terms of the Cartesian model.

{ Memory & Cognition | PDF }

art { Richard Long, Dusty Boots Line, The Sahara, 1988 }

‘Depression is sadness gone wrong.’ —Lewis Wolpert

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Spinoza is quoted approvingly […] to the effect that the free man is the one who thinks about, or fears, death the least. Such fear he considers to be a passive emotion, or affection, which is a bondage to pain, symptomatic of our impotence and servitude. Spinoza writes,

Hope is nothing else but an inconstant pleasure, arising from the image of something future or past, whereof we do not yet know the issue. Fear, on the other hand, is an inconstant pain also arising from the image of something concerning which we are in doubt. If the element of doubt be removed from these emotions, hope becomes Confidence and fear become Despair. In other words, Pleasure or Pain arising from the image of something concerning which we have hoped or feared.

The free man, in this light, is one who has not only cultivated the stronger active emotion of acquiescence to the univocal chorus of necessity, but has also learned to disengage external factors which are coincident with such passive emotions.

{ James Luchte | Continue reading }

You + Me = Meant to be

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What makes Spinoza’s philosophy unsustainable in Goldstein’s view is the fact that “in its ruthless high-mindedness, it asks us to renounce so many passions. (Among the passions we must renounce is romantic love, which, Spinoza deduces, will almost always end badly…)” Any love that is dependent on something that must inevitably change and cannot truly be possessed — such as another person — Spinoza explains, is asking for trouble.

{ Salon | Continue reading }

‘To win the fame, babe, it’s all the same, babe.’ –Michael Jackson

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The pursuit of honors and riches is likewise very absorbing, especially if such objects be sought simply for their own sake, inasmuch as they are then supposed to constitute the highest good. In the case of fame the mind is still more absorbed, for fame is conceived as always good for its own sake, and as the ultimate end to which all actions are directed. […] The more we acquire, the greater is our delight, and, consequently, the more are we incited to increase both the one and the other; on the other hand, if our hopes happen to be frustrated we are plunged into the deepest sadness. Fame has the further drawback that it compels its votaries to order their lives according to the opinions of their fellow-men, shunning what they usually shun, and seeking what they usually seek.

{ Spinoza, On the Improvement of the Understanding | PDF }

photo { Richard Learoyd }

Everything, whether it be more perfect or less perfect, will always be able to persist in existence with the same force wherewith it began to exist; wherefore, in this respect, all things are equal.

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What number is halfway between 1 and 9? Is it 5 — or 3?

Ask adults from the industrialized world what number is halfway between 1 and 9, and most will say 5. But pose the same question to small children, or people living in some traditional societies, and they’re likely to answer 3.

Cognitive scientists theorize that that’s because it’s actually more natural for humans to think logarithmically than linearly: 30 is 1, and 32 is 9, so logarithmically, the number halfway between them is 31, or 3. Neural circuits seem to bear out that theory. For instance, psychological experiments suggest that multiplying the intensity of some sensory stimuli causes a linear increase in perceived intensity.

In a paper that appeared online last week in the Journal of Mathematical Psychology, researchers from MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) use the techniques of information theory to demonstrate that, given certain assumptions about the natural environment and the way neural systems work, representing information logarithmically rather than linearly reduces the risk of error.

{ MIT | Continue reading }

photo { Rupp Worsham }

Take ‘em to ecstasy without ecstasy

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Bento de Spinoza was born on November 24, 1632, to a promi­ nent merchant family among Amsterdam’s Portuguese Jews. This Sephardic community was founded by former New Christians, or conversos—Jews who had been forced to convert to Catholicism in Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centu­ ries—and their descendants. After fleeing harassment by the Iberian Inquisitions, which doubted the sincerity of the conversions, many New Christians eventually settled in Amsterdam and a few other northern cities by the early seventeenth century. With its generally tolerant environment and greater concern for economic prosperity than religious uniformity, the newly independent Dutch Republic (and especially Holland, its largest province) offered these refugees an opportunity to return to the religion of their ancestors and re­ establish themselves in Jewish life. There were always conservative sectors of Dutch society clamoring for the expulsion of the “Por­tuguese merchants” in their midst.8 But the more liberal regents of Amsterdam, not to mention the more enlightened elements in Dutch society at large, were unwilling to make the same mistake that Spain had made a century earlier and drive out an economi­ cally important part of its population, one whose productivity and mercantile network would make a substantial contribution to the flourishing of the Dutch Golden Age.

The Spinoza family was not among the wealthiest of the city’s Sephardim, whose wealth was in turn dwarfed by the fortunes of the wealthiest Dutch. They were, however, comfortably well-off. Spinoza’s father, Miguel, was an importer of dried fruit and nuts, mainly from Spanish and Portuguese colonies. (…)

mainly from Spanish and Portuguese colonies. To judge both by his accounts and by the respect he earned from his peers, he seems for a time to have been a fairly successful businessman. (…)

Spinoza may have excelled in school, but, contrary to the story long told, he did not study to be a rabbi. In fact, he never made it into the upper levels of the educational program, which involved advanced work in Talmud. In 1649, his older brother Isaac, who had been helping his father run the family business, died, and Spinoza had to cease his formal studies to take his place. When Miguel died in 1654, Spinoza found himself, along with his other brother, Gabriel, a full-time merchant, running the firm Bento y Gabriel de Spinoza. He seems not to have been a very shrewd merchant, however, and the company, burdened by the debts left behind by his father, floundered under their direction. Spinoza did not have much of a taste for the life of commerce anyway. Financial success, which led to status and respect within the Portuguese Jewish community, held very little attraction for him. (…)

By the early to mid-1650s, Spinoza had decided that his future lay in philosophy, the search for knowledge and true happiness, not in the importing of dried fruit.

Around the time of his disenchantment with the mercantile life, Spinoza began studies in Latin and the classics. (…) Although distracted from business affairs by his studies and undoubtedly experiencing a serious weakening of his Jewish faith as he delved ever more deeply into the world of pagan and gentile letters, Spinoza kept up appearances and continued to be a mem­ ber in good standing of the Talmud Torah congregation through­ out the early 1650s. He paid his dues and communal taxes, and even made the contributions to the charitable funds that were ex­ pected of congregants.

And then, on July 27, 1656, the following proclamation was read in Hebrew before the ark of the Torah in the crowded syna­gogue on the Houtgracht: “The gentlemen of the ma’amad [the congregation’s lay governing board] hereby proclaim that they have long known of the evil opin­ ions and acts of Baruch de Spinoza. (…) Spinoza should be excommunicated and expelled from the people of Israel. By decree of the angels and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse, and damn Baruch de Espinoza. (…) No one is to com­municate with him, orally or in writing, or show him any favor, or stay with him under the same roof, or come within four cubits of his vicinity, or read any treatise composed or written by him.”

We do not know for certain why Spinoza was punished with such extreme prejudice. That the punishment came from his own community—from the congregation that had nurtured and edu­ cated him, and that held his family in high esteem—only adds to the enigma. Neither the herem itself nor any document from the period tells us exactly what his “evil opinions and acts” were sup­ posed to have been, or what “abominable heresies” or “monstrous deeds” he is alleged to have practiced and taught. He had not yet published anything, or even composed any treatise. Spinoza never refers to this period of his life in his extant letters and thus does not offer his correspondents (or us) any clues as to why he was expelled.

{ Steven Nadler, A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age, Chapter 1 | Continue reading }

painting { Baruch Spinoza by Samuel van Hoogstraten, 1670 }

If the way which I have pointed out as leading to this result seems exceedingly hard, it may nevertheless be discovered

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{ Dutch 1,000-guilder banknote featuring Spinoza }

Essence involves existence

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A thing is called finite after its kind, when it can be limited by another thing of the same nature ; for instance, a body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited by another thought, but a body is not limited by thought, nor a thought by body.

{ Spinoza, The Ethics, published posthumously in 1677 | Continue reading }

photo { Louis Porter }

‘If the mind has once been affected by two emotions at the same time, it will, whenever it is afterwards affected by one of the two, be also affected by the other.’ –Spinoza

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‘The mind can only imagine anything, or remember what is past, while the body endures.’ –Spinoza

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Feelings, especially the kind that I call primordial feelings, portray the state of the body in our own brain. They serve notice that there is life inside the organism and they inform the brain (and its mind, of course), of whether such life is in balance or not. That feeling is the foundation of the edifice we call conscious mind. When the machinery that builds that foundation is disrupted by disease, the whole edifice collapses. Imagine pulling out the ground floor of a high-rise building and you get the picture. That is, by the way, precisely what happens in certain cases of coma or vegetative state.

Now, where in the brain is that “feel-making” machinery? It is located in the brain stem and it enjoys a privileged situation. It is part of the brain, of course, but it is so closely interconnected with the body that it is best seen as fused with the body. I suspect that one reason why our thoughts are felt comes from that obligatory fusion of body and brain at brain stem level.

{ Antonio Damasio/Wired | Continue reading }

Antonio Damasio is David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, where he heads USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute.

Damasio’s books deal with the relationship between emotions and feelings, and what their bases may be within the brain. His 1994 book, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain, is regarded as one of the most influential books of the past two decades.

In his third book, Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, published in 2003, Damasio suggested that Spinoza’s thinking foreshadowed discoveries in biology and neuroscience views on the mind-body problem.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading | USC }

photo { Nathaniel Ward }

You say, Anyway’s the only way

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{ 1 | 2 }

What’s in a name?

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The grave of Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) at the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) on the Spui in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Bento was the name Spinoza received at his birth from his parents, Miguel and Hana Debora, Portuguese Sephardic Jews who had resettled in Amsterdam. He was known as Baruch in the synagogue and among friends while he was growing up in Amsterdam’s affluent community of Jewish merchants and scholars. He adopted the name Benedictus at age twenty-four after he was banished by the synagogue. Spinoza abandoned the comfort of his Amsterdam family home and began the calm and deliberate errancy whose last stop was here in the Paviljoensgracht. The Portuguese name Bento, the Hebrew name Baruch, and the Latin name Benedictus, all mean the same: blessed. So, what’s in a name? Quite a lot, I would say. The words may be superficially equivalent, but the concept behind each of them was dramatically different. (…)

I also can imagine a funeral cortege, on another gray day, February 25, 1677, Spinoza’s simple coffin, followed by the Van der Spijk family, and “many illustrious men, six carriages in all,” marching slowly to the New Church, just minutes away. I walk back to the New Church retracing their likely route. I know Spinoza’s grave is in the churchyard, and from the house of the living I may as well go to the house of the dead.

Gates surround the churchyard but they are wide open. There is no cemetery to speak of, only shrubs and grass and moss and muddy lanes amid the tall trees. I find the grave much where I thought it would be, in the back part of the yard, behind the church, to the south and east, a flat stone at ground level and a vertical tombstone, weathered and unadorned.

Besides announcing whose grave it is, the inscription reads CAUTE! which is Latin for “Be careful!” This is a chilling bit of advice considering Spinoza’s remains are not really inside the tomb, and that his body was stolen, no one knows by whom, sometime after the burial when the corpse lay inside the church. Spinoza had told us that every man should think what he wants and say what he thinks, but not so fast, not quite yet. Be careful. Watch out for what you say (and write) or not even your bones will escape.

{ Antonio Damasio, Looking for Spinoza, 2003 | Continue reading | Amazon }

Spinoza could not be buried in the Jewish cemetery in The Hague as a cherem (boycott) had been imposed on him by the Jewish community of Amsterdam. In the summer of 1956, 279 years later, his admirers erected a basalt tombstone behind the church with a portrait of Spinoza and the Hebrew word “עַמך” (amcha) meaning “your people” on it. The Jewish community of Amsterdam was represented by Georg Herz-Shikmoni, a sign that Spinoza was once again recognized as a member of the community.

The Latin inscription on a stone slab laid in the ground in front of the tombstone reads “Terra hic Benedicti de Spinoza in Ecclesia Nova olim sepulti ossa tegit” and means “The earth here covers the bones of Benedict de Spinoza, long interred in the New Church”.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Ever thought about Guinness’s? And the regrettable Parson Rome’s advice?

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The most famous Einstein pronouncement on God came in the form of a telegram, in which he was asked to answer the question in 50 words or less. He did it in 32: “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

{ Big Question | Continue reading }

‘The human mind has no knowledge of the body, and does not know it to exist, save through the ideas of the modifications whereby the body is affected.’ –Spinoza

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The brain has long enjoyed a privileged status as psychology’s favorite body organ. This is, of course, unsurprising given that the brain instantiates virtually all mental operations, from understanding language, to learning that fire is dangerous, to recalling names, to categorizing fruits and vegetables, to predicting the future. Arguing for the importance of the brain in psychology is like arguing for the importance of money in economics.

More surprising, however, is the role of the entire body in psychology and the capacity for body parts inside and out to influence and regulate the most intimate operations of emotional and social life. The stomach’s gastric activity , for example, corresponds to how intensely people experience feelings such as happiness and disgust. The hands’ manipulation of objects that vary in temperature and texture influences judgments of how “warm” or “rough” people are. And the ovaries and testes’ production of progesterone and testosterone shapes behavior ranging from financial risk-taking to shopping preferences.

Psychology’s recognition of the body’s influence on the mind coincides with a recent focus on the role of the heart in our social psychology. It turns out that the heart is not only critical for survival, but also for how people related to one another.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

One of the pressing questions in seventeenth century philosophy, and perhaps the most celebrated legacy of Descartes’s dualism, is the problem of how two radically different substances such as mind and body enter into a union in a human being and cause effects in each other. How can the extended body causally engage the unextended mind, which is incapable of contact or motion, and “move” it, that is, cause mental effects such as pains, sensations and perceptions.

Spinoza, in effect, denies that the human being is a union of two substances. The human mind and the human body are two different expressions—under Thought and under Extension—of one and the same thing: the person. And because there is no causal interaction between the mind and the body, the so-called mind-body problem does not, technically speaking, arise.

{ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Continue reading }

photo { Philippe Halsman }

‘Think Outside the Bun.’ –Taco Bell

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At first glance, it may seem strange to juxtapose Spinoza and Heidegger, the first an ‘excommunicated’ Jew living in Amsterdam in the mid-1600’s (and then, The Hague), the other a German (and a dissident ‘Nazi’), living at the time of his lectures on Schelling, that is 1936, near Freiburg. Although, as we will see, Heidegger’s documented interest in Spinoza and ‘Spinozism’ had already arisen at least as early as the 1920’s, it is interesting that in his lectures, after his first mentions of Spinoza, Heidegger seems necessitated or compelled to explain to his audience (among whom were the panoptic Nazi auditors) that the latter is not properly a ‘Jewish thinker’, citing of course, his expulsion from the Jewish community at the age of 23. It should be remembered that well before this time, Heidegger already had a quite severe falling out with leading Nazi officials and academic operators, such as Alfred Baumler, who had not only prevented him from being elected President of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, but had also placed Heidegger under surveillance.  Strangely enough, in a long report that would remove from Heidegger any hope of being elected President of the Academy of Sciences, it was stated that Heidegger was a schizophrenic, and that his philosophy was influenced by Jewish ideas (notably Husserl).

Beyond these perplexing historical considerations, however, the sigificance of Spinoza (and ‘Spinozism’) for Heidegger was long-standing and quite profound in relation to the development of his own philosophical perspective. Of course, it is Heidegger’s opposition to the rationalist and mathematical aspects of his philosophy that is most pronounced in all of his extant statements about Spinoza. (…)

Heidegger places a great emphasis upon the epistemic role of mood, and specifically, upon anxiety, in this context; and with the usual stipulations, we could argue that he has a different, and seemingly more positive, relationship with the (negative) emotional aspect of existence than does Spinoza. Of course, Spinoza, as Deleuze advertises, is a great seeker of Joy and pleasant emotions (in moderation); yet, it is his aversion to the ‘sad passions’ and ‘pain’ which clearly distinguishes him from Heidegger (and from Schopenhauer, for that matter). (…)

Heidegger, in the 1920’s phenomenology, is not speaking primarily of fear, as in the fear of death. He speaks instead of anxiety. Fear is a mood in which that which is feared is a threat that may happen or not. In this way, fear in Heidegger is the same as fear in Spinoza’s Ethics, as this emotion is always accompanied by hope (that some event, etc. will not occur). (…)

However, as stated, fear is not Heidegger’s primary concern, nor is it his epistemic source for the differentiation of our own being from that of entities. This is indicated, as I have mentioned, in anxiety, and again, we can find an analogue of this indication in Spinoza. For Heidegger, anxiety is a sense of a threat to our being that is insurmountable, of our own possibility of impossibility. In the absence of any hope, anxiety shares a family resemblance to Spinoza’s emotion of despair. That which is crucial here is that Heidegger contends that anxiety reveals to us the Nothing, which has the sense of the negativity of ourselves (finite transcendence), in our difference from generic beings and from any transcendent being. Moreover, as it is insurmountable, anxiety, in distinction from fear and the unreality of its sense of time, discloses the truth of what is there in its ultimate necessity.

In his radical, that is phenomenological and existential, ontology, Heidegger is seeking to disclose the specificity of our own human being, which, truth be told, is in each case, my own. Heidegger has, in this way, exposed a radical leap by Spinoza away from the truth, and into the consoling fiction of his notion of divine substance, which is meant to be imminent, to be our true being, but becomes, in its lack of being, perhaps the symbol of our greatest weakness and un-freedom. (…)

In our courage to face the futurity of our being-toward-death, we thus come to ourselves from out of the shadows – as the truth of Being. In this way, it could be contended that Spinoza does not give us an adequate conception of freedom, as he has failed, as Heidegger suggests in his lectures on Schelling, to disclose the true radicality and depths of human existence. (…) It is in this way that we affirm the desire which is our being, and do not take the path of renunciation for an eternal that is only a prison-house of graves.

{ James Luchte | Continue reading }

Thinking that the second kind of knowledge is a kind of mathematical knowledge, that’s an abominable silly thing, because then all Spinoza becomes abstract. / Mais penser que le second genre soit un type de connaissance mathématique, c’est une bêtise abominable parce que, à ce moment-là, tout Spinoza devient abstrait.

{ Deleuze on Spinoza, Cours de Vincennes, 1981 | Continue reading }

‘There are no fewer things in the mind that exceed our consciousness than there are things in the body that exceed our knowledge.’ –Deleuze

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{ Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and philosophy, 1962 | Continue reading }

related:

The body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at.

Again, no one knows how or by what means the mind moves the body, nor how many various degrees of motion it can impart to the body, nor how quickly it can move it. Thus, when men say that  this or that physical action has its origin in the mind, which latter has dominion over the body, they are using words without meaning, or are confessing in specious phraseology that they are ignorant of the cause of the said action, and do not wonder at it.

{ Spinoza, The Ethics, 1673 | Continue reading }

Suppose they wouldn’t feel anything after. Who knows? One way out of it.

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I feel coming between you and me still a difference. You tend very quickly to stress an authentically Spinozist concept, that of the tendency to persevere in being. The last time, you spoke to me about the conatus, i.e. the tendency to persevere in being, and you asked me: what don’t you do it? I responded that for the moment I cannot introduce it because, in my reading, I am stressing other Spinozist concepts, and the tendency to persevere in being, I will derive it from other concepts which are for me the essential concepts, those of power (puissance) and affect. Today, you return to the same theme. There is not even room for a discussion, you would propose another reading, i.e. a differently accentuated reading. As for the problem of the reasonable man and the insane man, I will respond exactly thus: what distinguishes the insane person and the reasonable one according to Spinoza, and conversely at the same time, there is: what doesn’t distinguish them? From which point of view can they not be distinguished, from which point of view do they have to be distinguished? I would say, for my reading, that Spinoza‚s response is very rigorous.

If I summarize Spinoza’s response, it seems to me that this summary would be this: from a certain point of view, there is no reason to make a distinction between the reasonable man and the insane person. From another point of view, there is a reason to make a distinction.


Firstly, from the point of view of power, there is no reason to introduce a distinction between the reasonable man and the insane man. What does that mean? Does that mean that they have the same power? No, it doesn‚t mean that they have the same power, but it means that each one, as much as there is in him, realises or exercises his power. I.e. each one, as much as there is in him, endeavours [s‚efforce] to persevere in his being. Therefore, from the point of view of power, insofar as each, according to natural right, endeavours to persevere in his being, i.e. exercise his power — you see I always put effort‚ between brackets — it is not that he tries to persevere, in any way, he perseveres in his being as much as there is in him, this is why I do not like the idea of conatus, the idea of effort, which does not translate Spinoza‚s thought because what it calls an effort to persevere in being is the fact that I exercise my power at each moment, as much as there is in me. It is not an effort, but from the point of view of power, therefore, I can not at all say what each one is worth, because each one would have the same power, in effect the power of the insane man is not the same as that of the reasonable one, but what there is in common between the two is that, whatever the power, each exercises his own. Therefore, from this point of view, I would not say that the reasonable man is better than the insane one. I cannot, I have no way of saying that: each has a power, each exercises as much power as there is in him. It is natural right, it is the world of nature. From this point of view, I could not establish any difference in quality between the reasonable man and the insane one.

But from another point of view, I know very well that the reasonable man is better‚ than the insane one. Better, what does that mean? More powerful, in the Spinozist sense of the word. Therefore, from this second point of view, I must make and I do make a distinction between the reasonable man and the insane one. What is this point of view? My response, according to Spinoza, would be exactly this: from the point of view of power, you have no reason to distinguish the reasonable man and the insane one, but from the other point of view, namely that of the affects, you distinguish the reasonable man and the insane one.

From where does this other point of view come? You remember that power is always actual, it is always exercised. It is the affects that exercise them. The affects are the exercises of power, what I experience in action or passion, it is this which exercises my power, at every moment. If the reasonable man and the insane one are distinguished, it is not by means of power, each one realises his power, it is by means of the affects. The affects of the reasonable man are not the same as those of the insane one. Hence 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.

{ Gilles Deleuze, Course on Spinoza, 1980 | Continue reading }

photo { Matthu Placek }

Thing is if you really believe in it. Blind faith. Lulls all pain.

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When, well after Spinoza, Nietzsche will launch the concept of will to power… (…)

We cannot understand anything in Nietzsche if we believe that it is the operation by which each of us would tend towards power.

Power is not what I want, by definition, it is what I have. I have this or that power and it is this that situates me in the quantitative scale of Beings.

Making power the object of the will is a misunderstanding, it is just the opposite. It is according to power that I have, that I want this or that.

{ Deleuze on Spinoza | Continue reading }

Put that in your pipe and smoke it

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Under such circumstances, we are simply determined in our ideas by our fortuitous and haphazard encounter with things in the external world. This superficial acquaintance will never provide us with knowledge of the essences of those things. In fact, it is an invariable source of falsehood and error. This “knowledge from random experience” is also the origin of great delusions, since we –thinking ourselves free– are, in our ignorance, unaware of just how we are determined by causes.

{ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Continue reading }

Knowledge of the first kind is based on sense experience and imagination. It includes all our knowledge of the moment-to-moment state of our body (warmth, cold, hunger, thirst, desire, etc.) as well as our knowledge of the properties of external bodies. All knowledge of this sort is partial or inadequate.

Knowledge of the second kind is based on reason or understanding. It includes all our knowledge of the common properties of bodies and minds (and of the sciences that concern these). Knowledge of the second kind also includes our knowledge of the definitions of substance, mode, God [Nature], etc. (…) According to Spinoza, this knowledge is always adequate and necessarily true. Spinoza discusses two important characteristics of knowledge of the second kind: 1) reason always regards things as necessary; 2) reason perceives things “in the light of eternity,” i.e. without any relationship to time. (…)

What we do not acquire in this way, however, is an understanding of our own existence “in the light of eternity.” Instead, we are generally caught up in the flow of time–the past, the present and the future–and this, Spinoza believes, often leads to unhappiness. Regarding the present as the only reality, we regret the loss of the past and either hope or fear for what the future will bring. But this is a confused (or inadequate) conception of our existence.

{ Don Rutherford, Notes on Part II of the Ethics | Continue reading }

more { Deleuze on Spinoza, 1978 | Deleuze on Spinoza, 1981 }