Read Ethics by Baruch Spinoza Edwin M. Curley Stuart Hampshire Edwin Curley Online


A profoundly beautiful and uniquely insightful description of the universe, Benedict de Spinoza's Ethics is one of the masterpieces of Enlightenment-era philosophy. This Penguin Classics edition is edited and translated from the Latin by Edwin Curley, with an introduction by Stuart Hampshire.Published shortly after his death, the Ethics is undoubtedly Spinoza's greatest woA profoundly beautiful and uniquely insightful description of the universe, Benedict de Spinoza's Ethics is one of the masterpieces of Enlightenment-era philosophy. This Penguin Classics edition is edited and translated from the Latin by Edwin Curley, with an introduction by Stuart Hampshire.Published shortly after his death, the Ethics is undoubtedly Spinoza's greatest work - an elegant, fully cohesive cosmology derived from first principles, providing a coherent picture of reality, and a guide to the meaning of an ethical life. Following a logical step-by-step format, it defines in turn the nature of God, the mind, the emotions, human bondage to the emotions, and the power of understanding - moving from a consideration of the eternal, to speculate upon humanity's place in the natural order, the nature of freedom and the path to attainable happiness. A powerful work of elegant simplicity, the Ethics is a brilliantly insightful consideration of the possibility of redemption through intense thought and philosophical reflection.The Ethics is presented in the standard translation of the work by Edwin Curley. This edition also includes an introduction by Stuart Hampshire, outlining Spinoza's philosophy and placing it in context.Baruch Spinoza (1632-77), later known as Benedict de Spinoza, was born in Amsterdam, where his orthodox Jewish family had fled from persecution in Portugal. Ethics was published in 1677 after his death, and his influence spread to the nineteenth century: inspiring the Romantic poets, winning the respect of Flaubert and Matthew Arnold, and moving George Eliot, who admired him as the enemy of superstition and the hero of scientific rationalism, to begin a translation of his works.If you enjoyed Ethics, you might like Rene Descartes' Meditations and Other Metaphysical Writings, also available in Penguin Classics.'The noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers ... ethically he is supreme'Bertrand Russell...

Title : Ethics
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ISBN : 9780140435719
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Number of Pages : 186 Pages
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Ethics Reviews

  • Hadrian
    2019-01-12 12:28

    Baruch you beautiful magnificent bastard. Within these two hundred dense pages of Euclidean geometric proofs axioms and postulates you manage to construct an ethical system , upend the traditional conception of monotheistic G-dd, and instead make him synonymous with the Laws of Nature. This is the best last expression of scholastic theology, and one of the most influential and astonishing philsophers of ever. It is a system which is both beautiful in its logic and yet kind and sympathetic in its recognition of the flaws, and refuting the Descartian mind-body dualiity, and yet preeemptivly going after Leibnizs Just World tripe, recognizing the imperfections and nature of human beings yet offering a coherent method to their betterment through reason and Caring For Others - not some empty cliche but instead a necessry outlet for understanding the universe and maintaining positive emotionAs an additional benefit, such a system is comptible with some of the recent materialist neurological discoveries of modern science, stating that the mind can be inlfuenced by the body, and taht we must understand physical causes in order to make progress with the mentl/abstract. We must cultivate our gardens.Spinoza is the foundations of philosophy and even mysticism and religion for even the most doubtful and venomous of skeptics, offering up the Universe and the Mathematical Laws of Nature instead of the dusty antiquated God of Bronzze Age massacres who demands foreskins for marriage. Perhaps a few others with benefit s of additional centuries of thought might yet construct a more applicable or cogent system but he is the base of it. He has the foundation, our Rock upon which the new Church is to be founded.(Written in sleep-deprived haze on a trans-Pacific flight. Typos and other mistakes preserved. May write a better review later, but this will serve for now.)

  • Esteban del Mal
    2018-12-21 08:34

    If rationality is defined as the capacity to solve problems, anticipate consequences and understand causes of events, one would be hard pressed to find its more complete realization than in the philosophy of Benedict Spinoza. Indeed, in his masterwork, Ethics, Spinoza set out to prove certain theorems which are to be deduced from axioms in the manner of Euclidean geometry. Whether or not he was successful in this endeavor has been a matter for over three intervening centuries of scholarship and debate. Yet Spinoza anticipated his detractors, if not through his philosophy, then by answering them explicitly, "I do not presume to have discovered the best philosophy, but I know that I understand the true one."The book is divided into five parts, each part building upon the previous. Three essential aspects of his particular stripe of rational thought are: first, his confidence in the ability of reason to supply us with dependable knowledge (epistemology); secondly, his conviction that the universe itself is governed by rational law (metaphysics); and lastly, his certainty that reason is the one acceptable guide to living (ethics). All that Spinoza asks is that we first take one small leap of -- ironically enough -- faith and submit to the notion that everything happens for a reason, what philosophers call the principle of sufficient reason (and theists call God, but we'll come back to that). In essence, only belief in the intelligibility of the world, ourselves included, will provide the motivation necessary for pushing through our own limitations.While the Ethics progresses in a linear manner, it is helpful to first thoroughly acquaint oneself with Spinoza's epistemology, by which he establishes his various axioms. He proposes that knowledge is derived in three separate, yet progressively linked, ways: knowledge acquired from sense perception is of the lowest level, and while of some value, is neither completely authentic nor consistent. Knowledge at the next level is found in the rational, as scientific principles. These ideas Spinoza refers to as adequate ideas, considered as such because they are logically related and one can have complete certainty about them in the same way one has complete certainty in the mathematical logic of, say, six is to three as four is to two. Knowledge at the third and highest level Spinoza terms scientific intuition. Knowledge at this stage is wholly contingent upon mastery of the previous stage of knowledge, the rational, which it then enables one to transcend. This is the insight that enables one to see possibilities that are beyond the current realm of scientific knowledge. One who possesses such intuitive knowledge understands that everything is necessary to the whole of the eternal order of things, and as such, the universe is rendered as a single absolute system that is governed by rational law.It is from such an unequivocal position that Spinoza promotes the tenets of the Ethics. His epistemology is inextricably tied to his metaphysics and takes up the first three parts of the treatise, wherein he argues that the Universe is cause of itself. And it is in the working out of this element of his philosophy that the most distinctive, and perhaps most remarkable, claims of Spinozism are made. Living at the early dawn of the Enlightenment, Spinoza felt the need to interpret the nature of God in language sufficient to do justice to the new universe that science was explaining. The problem Spinoza perceived is not to prove the existence of God, but to find what God is really like. His first step was to define the existence of God in such a way as to make it incontrovertible. This concept is regarded as substance monism by contemporary philosophers, in that there is only one root thing from which all other things stem. And it is this root thing which Spinoza alternately calls substance, or God. He maintains that (a) there is a substance that has every attribute; (b) there cannot be two substances that have an attribute in common; (c) there cannot be a substance that has no attributes, and consequently; (d) there cannot be two substances. As a result, this uniquely self-determining substance, God, cannot be produced by anything other than itself. As such, God is immanent in the rational order of the universe; the rational order which is expressed through the natural world and in human thought. If something exists other than God, it is either within and dependent upon God, in which case it is merely a finite expression of God, what Spinoza calls a mode; or it is without God, in which case something exists which is not God, whereby God is limited, and therefore itself finite, which is impossible because God has been demonstrated to be infinite. A necessary consequence of this claim is that the only entity exhibiting anything resembling free will in the universe is God, because everything else is necessarily dependent upon it, or, as Spinoza himself puts it, "God is, and acts solely by the necessity of His own nature; He is the free cause of all things." As a result, everything is determined by the ultimate substance, including human behavior. Or, as Spinoza would have it, "men believe themselves to be free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined." Great stuff, that. While it may induce existential panic in most of my literary-minded, free will sympathetic friends, I find it liberating.The determinism of Spinoza, a consequence of his claim of holism, leads into his next claim in the Ethics, that the mind and body are really the same thing conceived under the Cartesian attributes of Thought and Extension. Because both Thought and Extension must be regarded as two aspects of a single reality, but cannot be demonstrated to be two distinct substances under Spinoza's rational universe, they must be two attributes of the single substance, or what I previously identified as God. It therefore follows that God, the natural universe as a whole, can be conceived as simultaneously a system of extended or material things and a system of thinking or immaterial things. As such, mind and body, expressions of the attributes of Thought and Extension, are nothing more than different sides of the same coin. Even so, Spinoza differs with strict materialism, in that the identity of the mind doesn't reduce either mind to body or body to mind. Spinoza sees the scientific knowledge of the body through reason advancing from, rather than opposed to, awareness of the body through sense and imagination. His rationalism is a consequence of empiricism, not in competition with it.What is meant, then, by Spinoza's controversial statement that the mind is the idea of the body is understood as it is related to his epistemological system: knowledge born of sensory experience is of a lower order than knowledge of a rational kind. Still, rational knowledge is not possible without prior empirical experience; as a result, the mind, as the rational, is a necessary and ascendant consequence of the body, as the empirical. As such, as one ascends the levels of knowledge and one's ideas of the modifications of one's body become more logically consistent, one can be said to more fully understand the causes of these modifications. Knowledge based solely on empiricism is then, strictly speaking, reactive, whereas knowledge based upon rationalism is proactive. Spinoza uses the example of the sun, which one's senses tells one is a disc some few hundred feet from the earth. This idea is not false if considered at merely the sensory level of knowledge, but is inadequate at the next level of knowledge, in as much as it is demonstrated that the sun is a gigantic star millions of miles away.The reason Spinoza addresses epistemological and metaphysical questions in the first place is because he feels that they are a necessary foundation for ethical questions. We must first know our potentialities and our relation to Nature, otherwise our ideas about moral philosophy will simply be projections of our imaginations. Spinoza understands that the rational laws of science, being comprehensive, are just as applicable to human life as they are to the physical universe. Ethical behavior becomes a matter of applied psychology. The virtuous man is not one who lives in accord with moral commandments imposed upon him by some external, vengeful authority, but the man who acts in accordance with his nature. A nature which has been laid bare to him.Having demonstrated that a person's life is determined by forces both external and seemingly unmanageable to it, Spinoza endeavors to show in the final parts of his treatise that freedom from the bondage of determinism is really a matter of degree. And it is by exercising freedom, as he defines it, that one acts in an ethical manner. By acknowledging that one's life is determined, one becomes free, in that one is aware of the chain of causation that governs one's actions. By achieving adequate knowledge one understands the eternal; yet, one simultaneously comes to understand that one's own nature is distinguished from the whole of things because one recognizes one's separate existence is locked in this time-bound conception of ours that promises only incomplete knowledge. One is able to transcend this limited knowledge by replacing one's confused notions with the aforementioned adequate ideas.An example of a confused idea addressed by Spinoza is emotion. Our emotions, he contends, are a result of ignorance. "We feel strongly because we understand dimly." One's emotional reaction to another person is a result of not understanding what makes that person act as he or she does. In experiencing the passions, one is reacting to external causes and one's conscious life is proceeding at the level of sense-perception, not at the level of the rational. If knowledge of this kind is insufficient, so much more so is a life that is based on it. The free man is conscious of his compulsions and seeks to understand them. This is the only freedom one can truly aspire to –- not escape from the necessity of one's reality, but to understand both it and oneself as a part of it.When one comes to this understanding, good and evil are seen as one's reaction to circumstance, not as the eternal nature of things. Indeed, the concept of good and evil is relative and has nothing to do with that eternal nature. Spinoza writes, "So every man, according to his emotions, judges a thing to be good or bad, useful or useless." The solution to such a dilemma is to understand one's relation to the eternal order of things and in so doing one is liberated from the perpetual anxiety of striving against it. Things are neither good nor evil in and of themselves, they are just necessary to the universe as a whole. Coming to this awareness is no simple task, but if one extrapolates rationalism in the manner prescribed by Spinoza, it is a necessary outgrowth. It is only in comprehending the universe that man can rise above it, for as the philosopher reminds us, "The intellectual love of God, which arises from the intuitive kind of knowledge, is eternal."

  • Ted
    2019-01-15 13:37

    3 1/2 stars.I’m putting this book on the maybe return to shelf. I have other books I want to read more (many other books). This is a genuine review of the first three Parts of the book, to which I’ve added a brief overview of the last two parts, which I only skimmed.Spinoza’s classic is contained in an old book I have called The Rationalists. Also included are Descartes’ Discourse on Method and Meditations; and Leibniz’s Monadology and Discourse on Metaphysics.Historical context(view spoiler)[These thinkers are called Rationalists because to varying degrees they believed that the important facts about the world could be deduced or worked out by correct thinking, without relying much on evidence derived from the senses. They form the core phalanx of modern rationalism, along with Kant.Descartes was the earliest of these men (1596-1650). His Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences (containing the famous phrase “I think therefore I am”) was published in 1637, his Meditations in 1641. The Discourse on Method is usually regarded as one of the earliest treatises laying the foundation for the scientific method, hence is an important document in the history of science. (Yes, there is a seeming contradiction between Rationalism and the scientific method which developed as time went on, which I can’t explore in this review. Suffice it to say that Descartes’ thought was wide-ranging enough for him to be regarded as a seminal figure in both of these epistemological paths.)Leibniz (1646-1716), born two generations later and contemporaneous with Isaac Newton (1642-1727), is usually credited with independently inventing what we now call the calculus, along with Newton; which assures his place in the history of mathematics. However, apart from mathematics (the so-called Queen of the Sciences) Leibniz played no further role in the history of science. (view spoiler)[According to Wiki (, in the high Middle ages, theology was called the Queen of the Sciences. I think the less said about that the better. (hide spoiler)]But Spinoza (1632-1677) is the odd man out here. He plays no part in the history of either modern science or of mathematics. He is a pure rationalist par excellence, as far as his epistemological and moral thinking is concerned.(hide spoiler)]Spinoza’s Ethics - what it is, what it isn’t.(view spoiler)[The Ethics was published posthumously in Latin the same year that Spinoza died, 1677.First, what it isn’t. This treatise is not an essay on ethical theory, or Spinoza’s views on right and wrong actions, or any of the things you may think of if you think of a modern text dealing with ethics or morality.Yes, there is a bit of that in here, but it must be dug out with pick and shovel. It’s backbreaking work, best left to an expert, in my opinion.What it is. It is in form not much different from Euclid’s Elements. There are five parts to the treatise. Each part begins with Definitions and Axioms (statements assumed to be self-evidently true, requiring no proof). Then follows a long sequence of Propositions, each of these followed with a Proof, and sometimes paragraphs with headings such as Corollary, Lemma, Note or Explanation.So what Spinoza is up to in the Ethics is a rather grand attempt to construct a “geometry” (a la Euclid) which will demonstrate deductively truths about God’s nature, man’s nature, the nature of the human mind, human psychology, and human emotions; the way we are (and are not) in control of our desires, in what sense God and human beings are free agents; and what it means to act in a way in which “human freedom” can be achieved. This latter is what I would think comes closest to showing us what “ethically right” action is for humans.Thus, if you are interested in an overview of Spinoza’s ethical views and system, first realize you will not get that from reading this work – at least not without an enormous amount of effort.I would suggest instead perhaps starting with whatever can be found in Wiki (including references to recent books and articles) and Google, and then proceeding to consult an older academic book on Spinoza and his ethical views if needed. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy article Ethics, History of suggests these, which are in the GoodReads data base.S. Hampshire, Spinoza (Harmondsworth, England, 1951; Chs. 4 & 5)Broad, C.D. Five Types of Ethical Theory (London, 1930; Ch. 2) (hide spoiler)]An example of Spinoza’s demonstrations.(view spoiler)[Some of Spinoza’s first Definitions areI. By that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.II. …III. By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.IV. …V. By mode, I mean the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.VI. By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite – that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.The first Axiom:Everything which exists, exists either in itself or in something else.And the first Proposition & Proof:PROP. I. Substance is by nature prior to its modifications.Proof. - This is clear from Def. iii. And v. (hide spoiler)]I quickly found some comfort in the following method of reading this. I skipped all the text under the heading Proof. If Spinoza made a mistake in his proofs that I would be capable of seeing, I didn’t want to know about it. More to the point, I didn’t care whether his logic was correct, although I assume it is, given his Definitions and Axioms. No, the fact that Spinoza believed he was deducing statements about human beings and their emotions, God, the mind, etc., that had the same irrefutable truth value as mathematics, I found only curious. I don’t buy it.Here, a summary of the five parts of Spinoza’s Ethics.Part I Concerning God. (view spoiler)[Well, naturally this part has a lot of propositions which touch on the nature of God. Spinoza proves a number of unexpected things here. For example, the Corollary to Prop. XXV (Part I) states that “Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner.” This, and several other Propositions, led me to think that Spinoza is advancing a position that is very close to pantheism. (And indeed, Spinoza has been described as a pantheist, or linked to pantheism to some extent or other, by several commentators.)Other proofs show that God does not act according to freedom of the will (Corollary to Prop. XXXII); that the ways things are in nature is the only possible way they could have ever been brought into being by God (Prop. XXXIII); and that the idea that nature has been designed with goals or ends in mind (teleology) is false (Appendix to Part I).Spinoza’s religious background and views. (view spoiler)[Spinoza was brought up in an orthodox Sephardic Jewish family in Amsterdam’s Portuguese Jewish community. In his early twenties he began to have distinctly unorthodox religious views, particularly about the authorship of the Old Testament, and was eventually branded a heretic. Views such as those mentioned above have led some to declare that Spinoza was an atheist. See spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]Part II Of the Nature and Origin of the Mind. (view spoiler)[This section of the treatise explores the ramifications of the first section when applied to the subject of the human mind and body. Frankly I didn’t find it very interesting, aside from a couple sections. Prop. XLVIII seems to be a pretty clear denial of human free will: In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.Another proposition (XLIII) states He who has a true idea, simultaneously knows that he has a true idea, and cannot doubt of the truth of the thing perceived. Now if this is true, I guess I’ve never had a true idea, since I can’t remember ever being absolutely certain that any idea I’ve had is true. (Except for mathematical things.) I think this proposition illustrates the spurious conclusions that a man of supreme intellect can be led to when his assumptions are fouled up. (hide spoiler)]Part III On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions. To me, Part III is the real highlight of the Ethics. The section is an extremely interesting deductive derivation of human psychology. (At least that’s what I perceived it as.) The Propositions stated seem mostly correct, perceptive, and illuminating. (view spoiler)[My guess is that Spinoza cooked the books a bit here (perhaps unconsciously), was probably a very keen observer of human nature, knew what he hadto show, and so arranged the proofs, definitions, axioms, etc. so as to show what he already believed to be true. I don’t think he was led to these insights just by thinking about God, substance, body, mind, etc. (view spoiler)[But I could be wrong. (hide spoiler)]I originally hoped to present a useful overview of this chapter. It turned out to be a task beyond me, at least without spending an inordinate amount of time. It seemed that no matter where I started, endless trails led back through prior definitions, Propositions, etc. So many terms and words which are familiar to us in everyday discourse have specific, non-traditional meanings for Spinoza. He does define everything, but it is a big job to summarize things in an informative manner. I gave up, both because I knew it would take so long, and because of the likelihood that no one would be that interested as to read whatever I eventually came up with.So instead I’ll just talk about the way that Spinoza views and defines emotions in the chapter.First off, Spinoza believes there to be only three fundamental emotions (Note to Prop. XI): pleasure, pain and desire. This sounds sort of reasonable, or at least plausible, right? But wait. Let’s just see how he defines these primary emotions. From the same note: Pleasure is “a passive state wherein the mind passes to a greater perfection.”Pain is “a passive state wherein the mind passes to a lesser perfection.”And, from the Note to Prop. IX, Desire is “appetite with consciousness thereof.”See what I mean? Now, am I going to tell you what, a “passive state” is? No, I’m not going there! And am I going to say what Spinoza’s “appetite” means? Just a hint: It is a certain “endeavor”, “referred to the mind and body in conjunction”. I hope that satisfies your curiosity, because I’m not going any deeper into that either!See, this is the really fundamental stuff that must be thoroughly understood to know what Spinoza’s psychology is about, what he’s saying – what, that is, these propositions are proving.I’m absolutely not dismissing this stuff as nonsense; I’m throwing up my hands and saying its too damn hard!So let’s bypass this initial stuff, and see where Spinoza is led. Because it is interesting. These three primary emotions are used in combination with mental states and dispositions, and hypothetical situations, to define and elucidate an entire gamut of human emotions. There’s a list of most of them that he considers in this (view spoiler)[hatred, love; sympathy; confidence, despair, disappointment, fear, hope, joy; approval, indignation, pity; envy; emulation, pride; benevolence; ambition; honour, repentance, shame; regret; consternation, timidity; anger, revenge; cruelty/savageness, thankfulness/gratitude; daring; contempt, derision, devotion, wonder; humility; avarice, lust. (hide spoiler)].All the emotions in that list are treated in two separate places in Part III. They first enter the treatise in a Proposition, actually usually a Note to a Proposition; then later, in the final section of Part III (DEFINITIONS OF THE EMOTIONS), Spinoza treats them again in a somewhat different order, with additional comments, “interpolating such observations as I think should here and there be added.”For example, the emotion of love is defined in the Note to Prop. XIII: “Love is nothing else but pleasure accompanied by the idea of an external cause.” In VI. of the DEFINITIONS section, love is defined in the same terms, and Spinoza says, in an Explanation, that these words “explain sufficiently clearly the essence of love”; then goes on but this is TMI on my part so (view spoiler)[ … goes on to critique the statement that others have made, that love is “the lover’s wish to unite himself to the loved object“, claiming that this formulations does not get at the essence of love, but simply expresses a property of love; and then further explains that when he says that the phrase states a property of love, the import of the word “wish” must be clearly understood, because Spinoza denies that “wish” can mean a “free decision of the mind”, since this human freedom has been proved to be a fiction in Part II, Prop. XLVIII. Whew! Thanks Baruch (hide spoiler)]Just a couple more remarks on this section.Prop. XL: He, who conceives himself to be hated by another, and believes that he has given him no cause for hatred, will hate that other in return. A great example of how what we would think of as an observation about human nature or psychology (and perhaps not even an entirely convincing one – might not the counter-feeling be one of puzzlement, irritation, resignation … ?), turns into a statement that can be proved deductively in Spinoza’s system.Finally. Let’s compare Spinoza’s definition of “hope” with a dictionary definition.In DEFINITIONS XII, “Hope is an inconstant pleasure, arising from the idea of something past or future, whereof we to a certain extent doubt the issue.”My dictionary - Hope: “A wish or desire supported by some confidence of its fulfillment.”To me, there are significant differences here. First, the dictionary definition makes hope to be an active emotion, a “wish or desire”. Spinoza on the other hand views it as a passive thing, something which “arises” from an “idea”, not a thing which is produced by our will.Also, the dictionary clearly means to show us what the sign (word) signifies, by giving us a string of other signs; whereas Spinoza’s definition is not simply language attached to the word defined, but rather an explanation of how the thing signified by the word comes about. I think these distinctions are seen pretty much throughout the definitions and comments on the emotions in Part III.(hide spoiler)]I have not read the last two Parts of the book, but I did skim them so I could make some brief comments.Part IV Of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions.(view spoiler)[Shades of Somerset Maugham!! … and yes, this is where Maugham got his title.Spinoza introduces this section as follows:Human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions I name bondage: for, when a man is a prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune: so much so, that he is often compelled , while seeing that which is better for him, to follow that which is worse. Why this is so, and what is good or evil in the emotions, I propose to show in this part of my treatise.Then, after the usual definitions, axioms, propositions, notes, etc. Spinoza adds an Appendix at the end of Part IV, in which he summarizes his remarks in a more natural manner than they were developed in the chain of propositions. This would be a fine place for a reader to gain an overview of this section. I won’t try to summarize his summary.(hide spoiler)]Part V Of the Power of the Understanding, or of Human Freedom.(view spoiler)[In Part V Spinoza appears to close the loop, in a certain sense, because as in Part I (and not since) most of the Propositions contain “God” in their statement. Spinoza introduces the section by saying that he will treat “the power of the reason, showing how far the reason can control the emotions, and what is the nature of Mental Freedom or Blessedness.” He then continues,I shall treat only of the power of the mind, or of reason; and I shall mainly show the extent and nature of its dominion over the emotions, for their control and moderation. That we do not possess absolute dominion over them, I have already shown. (hide spoiler)]My SummaryBefore a final quote, this is what I think of Spinoza’s Ethics. For this modern reader, its main, though not only, interest is as a historical document. The rationalist programme upon which it’s founded I find completely unconvincing, in our modern era of scientific understanding.The third part, wherein Spinoza lays forth what I take to be a psychology of the emotions, was/is interesting, and I wish I had been able to condense and summarize it better. I might return to it someday, but … likely not, if I’m honest with myself.Similarly, the fourth part, which I only skimmed (and that only as a gull, diving from on high to briefly skim the waves lapping on the shore, immediately ascends and flies on to elsewhere), seems like it should be explored in conjunction with Part III.The other parts of the Ethics did not attract me, and I doubt I will ever return to them.But Spinoza was undoubtedly a great thinker, and deserves far better than I’ve been able to give him here. At the very least he deserves to provide his own summary, which I’ll hide simply because it’s a bit long. The quote is the last Note in Ethics, in its entirety.Spinoza’s Summary(view spoiler)[I have thus completed all I wished to set forth touching the mind’s power over the emotions and the mind’s freedom. Whence it appears, how potent is the wise man, and how much he surpasses the ignorant man, who is driven only by his lusts. For the ignorant man is not only distracted in various ways by external causes without ever gaining the true acquiescence of his spirit, but moreover lives, as it were unwitting of himself, and of God, and of things, and as soon as he ceases to suffer, ceases also to be.Whereas the wise man, in so far as he is regarded as such, is scarcely at all disturbed in spirit, but, being conscious of himself, and of God, and of things, by a certain eternal necessity, never ceases to be, but always possesses true acquiescence of his spirit.If the way which I have pointed out as leading to this result seems exceedingly hard, it may nevertheless be discovered. Needs must it be hard, since it is so seldom found. How would it be possible, if salvation were ready to our hand, and could without great labour be found, that it should be by almost all men neglected? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare. (hide spoiler)]Q.E.D.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Camille Stein
    2019-01-02 14:38

    Cualquier cosa puede ser, por accidente, causa de esperanza o de miedo..Hombres distintos pueden ser afectados de distintas maneras por un solo y mismo objeto, y un solo y mismo hombre puede, en tiempos distintos, ser afectado de distintas maneras por un solo y mismo objeto. .Esta afección del alma, o sea, esta imaginación de una cosa singular, en cuanto se encuentra sola en el alma, se llama asombro, y si es provocado por un objeto que tememos, se llama consternación, pues el asombro ante un mal tiene al hombre suspenso de tal manera en su sola contemplación, que no es capaz de pensar en otras cosas con las que podría evitar ese mal. Si lo que nos asombra es la prudencia de un hombre, su industria o algo de este género, el asombro se llama entonces veneración, pues pensamos que, en virtud de eso que admiramos, ese hombre nos supera en mucho; por el contrario, se llama horror, si nos asombramos de la ira, la envidia, etc., de un hombre. Además, si admiramos la prudencia, industria, etc., de un hombre a quien amamos, por ello mismo nuestro amor será mayor (por la Proposición 12 de esta Parte), y a este amor, unido al asombro o a la veneración, lo llamamos devoción. Y de esta misma manera podemos también concebir el odio, la esperanza, la seguridad y otros afectos unidos al asombro; y así podremos deducir muchos más afectos de los que suelen indicarse con los vocablos comúnmente admitidos. Lo que prueba que los nombres de los afectos han sido inventados más bien según su uso vulgar que según su cuidadoso conocimiento.

  • Mahnam
    2018-12-31 10:41

    به طور حتم باید این کتاب رو بیش از یک بار خواند و قطعا در دور اول مطالعه‌اش نمیشه به برداشت صحیحی از تمام مطالب اون دست یافت به خصوص اگه با پیشینه فلسفی زیادی شروعش نکرد اما با تمامی این موارد کتابی است که میشه بسیار زیاد از اون آموخت و با وجود گذشت سال‌ها از نگارشش، هنوز طراوت خاصی داره که واقعا خواننده رو به وجد میاره. اسپینوزا در رساله اخلاق با بهره‌گیری از شیوه‌ی دکارت و پیروی از پذیرش تنها تصورات واضح و متمایز ، نظام فلسفی خودش رو پی‌ریزی می‌کنه که در این راه، برخلاف دکارت نه از جز به کل و انسان به خدا که از کل به جز و از خدا و جوهر به انسان می‌رسه. به همین خاطر خوانش دو فصل اول خیلی دشوارتر از سه فصل بعدی است چون چهارچوب‌های ذهنی خواننده رو بیشتر به چالش می‌کشه اما هر چه بیشتر پیش میریم، بیشتر با اونچه اسپینوزا قصد داره بگه، ارتباط برقرار میکنیم و خیلی از سوالاتی که برامون به وجود میاد، به مرور و به کمک متن خود کتاب حل میشه تا جایی که وقتی در فصل آخر نظام یکپارچه ای از موجودات و خداوند رو ارائه میده، تصوری که از نظام فلسفیش برای ما به وجود میاد تا حد زیادی روشن خواهد بود.خداوند اسپینوزا نه پروردگاری خارج از موجودات که کل طبیعت موجود و سرمدی است و از ازل تا ابد نه کمالاتش افزایش پیدا میکنه و نه کاهش به نوعی که تمامی موجودات رو اگر مجموعه‌ای در نظر بگیریم، در نظر گرفتن خدا نه چیزی به اون مجموعه زیاد میکنه و نه چیزی از اون کم میکنه بلکه کل اون مجموعه که تحت صفات فکر و بعد اعتبار میشه، خداست که حقیقتی سرمدی به حساب میاد. با این حال که به نظر میاد خداوند اسپینوزا طبیعتی فاقد شعور است اما او به کرات در نوشته‌هایش تاکید میکنه که فهم خداوند شامل تمامی اتفاقات هستی است و خدا از آن‌ها جدا نیست. بخش اول کتاب به طور کلی به تعریف تنها جوهری که اسپینوزا در جهان قائل است، یعنی خداوند اختصاص دارد. در بخش بعدی ما با طبیعت نفس انسان و منشا اون آشنا میشیم و می‌فهمیم که در نظام فکری اسپینوزا، نفس انسان چیزی جدای از جسم او نیست و تنها تفاوتش در این است که نفس تحت صفت فکر اعتبار می‌شود و جسم تحت صفت بعد درحالیکه این‌ها در حقیقت بر یک چیز دلالت دارند و فقط در ذهن انسان متمایز شناخته می‌شوند. بنابراین اسپینوزا به هیچ عنوان اصالتی برای روح قائل نیست و هیچ اعتقادی به آن ندارد و مهمترین فضیلت انسان را کوشش برای حفظ ذات خود تعریف میکنه. در فصول بعدی اسپینوزا سعی می‌کنه تا منشا عواطف انسانی و ارتباط ان‌ها با عقل و فهم انسان رو توضیح بده که باید بگم این سه فصل سرشار از نکات آموزنده است حتی برای خوانندگانی که علاقه‌ای به متون فلسفی ندارند یا با فلسفه اسپینوزا موافق نیستند و من مدام از خودم میپرسم چی میشد اگه ما در سنین پایین و در مدارس با این مطالب آشنا میشدیم و چقدر شناخت بهتری از ذات خودمون پیدا میکردیم و چقدر کمتر خودمون و دیگران رو اذیت میکردیم؛ چه اهداف بهتری برای زندگی‌مون برمی‌گزیدیم و چه زندگی بهتری داشتیم... این سه فصل نه چندان فلسفی که بیشتر بار روانشناختی دارن و شاید علم روانشناسی امروز بسیار فراتر از مطالب آمده در این رساله رفته باشه اما باز هم نمیشه از کارآمد بودن اونا چشمپوشی کرد. فصل پنجم و آخر رساله به نوعی جمع‌بندیه و میخواد به خواننده بگه که چطور میشه با پذیرش جبر صددرصدی، زندگی سعادتمندی داشت و در چنین ساختاری فضیلت و سعادت چی تعریف میشه و آیا انسان با مرگ تمام میشه؟ تا چه حد میشه بر مبنای عقل زندگی کرد و تا کجا میشه از انفعال شخصی کاست و از اسارت مطلق عواطف منفعل رها شد. و در آخر اسپینوزا نوشته خود را با جمله‌ی هر چیز عالی همان‌قدر که نادر است، دشوار هم هست به پایان میبره و نشان میده که چرا با وجود بودن مفاهیم مشترک در نفوس انسان‌ها، از آرامش واقعی برخوردار نیستیم و راه رسیدن به این آرامش که فقط و فقط از طریق شناخت تام حاصل میشه، تا چه اندازه دشواره و برای پیمودنش به پافشاری زیادی نیازه. حتما این کتاب رو باید چندبار دیگه و با دانشی بیشتر مطالعه کرد و شاید برخی از این برداشت‌های حال حاضر من با مقصود حقیقی نگارنده متفاوت باشه اما تا همین حد هم بسیار آموختم. بسیار به وجد اومدم و بسیار از اسپینوزا سپاسگزارم. به راستی که آگاهی سرمدی است و در جهان باقی میماند حتی اگر جسم انسان از بین رفته باشد. از جناب جهانگیری هم به خاطر ترجمه بسیار وفادارنه‌شون متشکرم و همچنین به خاطر تمام پانویس‌ها و توضیحاتی که در فهم بهتر متن به کمک خواننده می‌اومدن.

  • Carl
    2019-01-11 11:14

    If I were exiled to a desert island, imprisoned, or otherwise isolated, and there were only book of philosophy I could have to read and re-read for the rest of my life, it would be The Ethics of Spinoza. Here Spinoza lays out a complete system that encompasses metaphysics, theology, physics, psychology, and ethics. Throughout Spinoza is concerned with what it means to be free, and what sort of beliefs are worthy of a free human being. To be free, he insists, means not to be a slave -- not to anyone else, and not to your own wishes, compulsions, fantasies, and emotions. To be free is to be rational, and to be rational is to live the best kind of life for a human being to live. I should add also that The Ethics is itself the work of a lonely spirit, a spirit who relinquished the claims of community and tradition in order to create a different and better future through the power of philosophy. I can think of no better company for my own solitude than the Ethics of Spinoza.

  • Gary
    2019-01-14 08:35

    The best way to read this book is to listen to it. If I were to have read it, I would have dwelled excessively on the axioms, definitions and propositions and would have missed the forest for the trees. Don't worry if you don't get the definition as he gives them. You'll be able to pick them up when he uses them latter on. Spinoza is an incredibly good writer. He will tell you what he's going to tell you, tell you and than tell you again. He'll say "in other words" or "take this example" or other such explanatory statements and amplify what he's been telling you while never being 'prolix' (a word he actually uses and I had to look it up. It means tediously long winded with words).I've often heard people make the expression that they "believe in the God of Spinoza". After having read this book, I seriously would doubt them. What they've done is focused on the Spinoza formulation "that God is Nature and Nature is God" and they like the way that sounds, but they don't really know how Spinoza gets there or what he means by it.This book is a vibrant defense of Scholasticism (Aristotelian thought) against Descartes' mind body duality. Spinoza creates a system with only one substance (God) but infinite attributes. Two of those attributes are thought and extension (body), but it's clear that God possess infinitely many more. God (or Substance) is the creator of the universe and possess thinking. The God/Nature Nature/God formulation would be pantheistic. But, Spinoza goes beyond that and very well could be 'panentheistic' (God transcends nature), but I can't say for sure based only on this book.Spinoza uses most of the metaphysics of Aristotle. He believes God is the efficient cause (the mover) of the universe, but he does not believe in Aristotle's final causes, teleology. He believes that God is necessary, and that the universe is determined because from the necessary existence and therefore essence of God everything must follow from cause and effect (i.e. that Free Will is an illusion. Aristotle in his Ethics believes that Free Will does exist, but mostly Spinoza and Aristotle seem to agree. The concept of 'essence' are essential items in each of their systems). Things are only contingent when we don't know enough.Only the first two sections of the book dealt with God and the Mind. The other three sections deal with emotions and our control. He'll reach some of the same conclusion that Aristotle reaches in his Nicomachean Ethics. Such as, our highest virtue is the contemplative virtue and we need to wake up, stop being distracted by the petty and focus on the universe and our place in it. He'll say we are most divine like when we use our contemplation on higher order matters.Also, I want to mention that his sections on emotions and human bondage were some of the best formulations of psychology I've ever have come across in my readings. He'll say that it's our desires and our pains and pleasures which determine our emotional well being. The active part of us determines our emotional health and through the passive part is how our passions sneak in. Leading a virtuous life is the best. We should return hate with love or high mindedness for its own sake. He'll even segue into a self help book by saying we should repeat such slogans to ourselves so that when we our prone to hate we will know how to act instead. I can't understand why today's self help books don't do as well as Spinoza does within this book.This book is a relatively easy read. It's clear that Hegel grabs major parts from Spinoza in his "Phenomenology of Spirit", and Hegel is no way as easy to read as this book is. Spinoza's attributes are determinants (limitations) of the infinite. Hegel makes all determinants negations of the infinite and gives us his dialectics (or movements) based on that. I did notice that Spinoza uses 'vacillate' in the later parts of his book and it seemed to correlate with Hegel's movements. I wish I had read this book before I had read Hegel. He would have made more sense to me if I had.Never trust the summations you might have heard about this book or any other of the classic philosophical works you may come across. They always seem to get it wrong. This is a good book to read because Spinoza is such a great writer (he's not prolix as my review is!), he has a genuinely interesting take on the world, his psychology sections seem to be as good as any I have ever seen, you'll probably learn to be suspicious of the statement "I believe in the God of Spinoza" because a lot of baggage comes with that statement, and the influence his work has had on others becomes obvious and they would be easier to understand if you read this book before reading them.(A note: I enjoyed this book so much I've downloaded his previous book "A Theologico Political Treatise" for free from LibriVox because it doesn't seem to be available at Audible).

  • أسيل
    2019-01-18 08:22

    ثرثرةثمة كتب حينما تقرأها تحدث بصمة ما في النفسلا تزحزها اي كتب اخرى بنفس الموضوع فتحافظ على ثبات صفها في رفوفك,,, ربما لأنها لا زالت تشغلكولا زلت على ترابط بها في محاولة لهضمهاومع هذا الكتاب كانت تحضرني افكار ابن مسكويه في النفسوالرازي ودراز بالارادةو العقل والاخلاقوتضفي لي التساؤلات والغوص في التأملات والشطحات والشارداتخرجت بقليل وزدت حيرة في الكثير من مكامن واسرار النفس!فكل ما نصل اليه من تأملاتنا وسوانح افكارنا ليس له غاية نهائيةالا توجيه الانسان في حياته ومعرفته بنفسهوربط كل تأمل عقلي بالانسان!الفضيلة قوة الانسان التي تحدد ماهيته! يستهل سبينوزا كتابه بتأملات فلسفية ميتافزيقية في الالهثم في الانسان وطبيعته وطبيعة المعرفه وانفعالاتهثم في العقل ويختتمه بالفضيلة والاخلاقوهو بذلك يتقصد التدرج فالانسان يعرفه نفسه من خلاله صلته وارتباطه باللهويميز بعقله بين الخير والشرونحن لا نعرف الخير من الشر الا اذا كلن هذا الشيء يقودنا الى الفهماو يحول بيننا وبينه اي الفهموالخير الاسمى لها هو معرفة الله واسمى الفضائل معرفة النفس للهويرقى باخلاقه وفضيلته وبها يسمو لاعلى مراتب انسانيتهففضيلة الانسان الحر تتمثل في توقيه للمخاطر بقدرما تتمثل في التغلب عليها... وان رباطة الجأش هي الرغبة التي يسعىبها كل فرد الى حفظ كيانه وفقاً لما يمليه العقلوحفظ الذات هو المبدأ الأول للفضيلة وذلك يتحقق بهداية من العقلفالذي يجهل نفسه يجهل مبدأ كل الفضائل بل يجهل الفضائل نفسهاوبقدر ما نجد في البحث عما ينفعنا ويحفظ كياننا نكون فضلاء وعلى العكساذا اهملنا ما ينفعنا ويحفظ لنا كياننا كنا عاجزينوما يضفي الميزة لكتابه ان يوضح المقصود والمعنى للمترادفاتكالطموح والامل والحزن والفرح والرغبة والشهوة والارادةويضفي اليها براهين وحواشيكقولهاني ارد الى الدين كل ما نرغبه ونفعله ونكون علة له من جهة معرفتنا باللهاني اطلق لفظ الاخلاقية على الرغبة في فعل الخير المتأصلة في عيشنا على مقتضى العقل اقصد بالشرف الرغبة التي تدفع الانسان الذي يعيش على مقتضى العقل الى اكتساب صداقة غيرهواسمي شريفا العمل الذي يستحسنه الناس الذين يعيشون على مقتضى العقل ومخزيا على العكس ما يحول دون الصداقةلا فرق بين الرغبة والشهوة سوى ان الرغبة تتعلق عموما بالانسان من حيث انه يعي شهواتهفالرغبة هي الشهوة المصحوبة بوعي ذاتها بينما الشهوة تتعلق بالنفس والجسم"لا شيء مما يحدث في الطبيعة يمكن ان ينسب الى عيب كامن فيهااذ الطبيعة هي هي على الدوام, وفضيلتها وقدرتها على الفعل واحدة, وهي ذاتها في كل مكان, اي ان قوانين الطبيعة وقواعدها التي تحدث بمقتضاهاالاشياء وتنتقل من شكل الى اخر هي نفسها دائماً وفي كل مكان وتبعاً لذلك ينبغي ان يكون المنهج السليم لمعرفةطبيعة الاشياء مهما كانت هذه الاشياء, نفس المنهج, اعني منهجاً ينطلق دائماًمن قوانين الطبيعة وقواعدها الكلية. وهكذا فان انفعالات الكره والغضب والحسد وما اليهااذا ما اعتبرت في ذاتها, تسير وفقا لنفس الضرورة ونفس الفضيلة الطبيعيةالتي تسير عليها الاشياء الجزئية الاخرى. وبناء عله فان لهذه الانفعالات عللا محددة تسمح بمعرفتها بوضوح, ولها خصائص معينة تجدر معرفتها شأنها شأناي موضوع آخر نتمتع بمجرد تأمله.

  • Alexander
    2018-12-30 07:41

    Don't be cowed by the metaphysical tail-chasing of Books I, II, and V.The piston-huffing, steampunk clockwork of Axioms, Proofs, Scholia, and Corollaries can pound the reader's nerves like the mechanized hammer in a belfry. Even hardcore Spinozists may differ on how or whether these moving parts all click into place, so don't be miffed if you feel you've wandered into some weird Kabbalah seminar MC'd by a Jewy mathlete poking at his graphing-calculator.Or perhaps my slow-moving brain simply can't keep pace with all the intermeshing gears. Essence. Substance. Attribute. Mode. Axiom. God. The musty pageant of scholastic theo-jabber hasn't dated well, even as Spinoza's aim was full-blown demystification -- the annihilation of orthodox religious doctrine in favor of a wholly naturalized "God" -- a logic-driven breaking of the vessels.Once our renegade Cartesian emerges from his empyrean clocktower to engage human nature in Books III & IV ("On the Affects" & "On Human Bondage"), The Ethics becomes a much more nourishing book, though again, written as if Spock and Commander Data had collaborated on a treatise to map human emotion on a Euclidean grid -- a visionary Jewbot crunching game-theoretic equations in a geometric love-letter to God (whom he knows will not return said love).Steven Nadler observed that The Ethics is a Rorschach for new readers, so this abyss-dwelling materialist and ego-blasted freewill-doubter takes to Spinoza like a lizard to a sunbaked rock. The tranquil surge of tautologies rarely provokes a yawn, while even the most self-evident claims seem slanted in a crisp new light, as if the bevy of truths I've come to accept is being ritually crop-rotated in freshly-composted black earth. ("Compost" has a double-meaning here, as some of Spinoza's notions will have you unholstering your pooper-scooper (i.e. the soul dies with the body, but "the mind" partakes of eternity, and thus survives in some form. -Bk. V, Prop. 23). The Ethics is a mixed bag of philosophical tricks, despite its systematic aims.)The deep ecology movement, in its attempt to mashup Heideggerian phenomenology with pre-industrial eco-communion and reciprocity with wild spaces, has found a partial-ancestor in Spinoza's immersive pantheism -- albeit conferred by a Dutch freethinker who spent most of his life in boarding houses, lens-grinding workshops, libraries, taverns, and (before his excommunication) the synagogue. What this tells us is that The Ethics has as much to offer the roving city rat as the stinky dreadlocked Greenpeace volunteer, even as Spinoza might have dismissed much of today's green movement as "empty superstition and unmanly compassion" (Bk. IV, Sch. 1). Nature may be the source and generative matrix of All, but The Ethics still has one foot planted in Pentateuchal Dominion theology. (With regards to human emotion, it has both feet squarely planted. We are all bucks to be broken. Every passion named and tamed.)Freud noted that the poets discovered the Unconscious long before he did, but Spinoza gave the concept a transgressive breadth and depth shocking to the Powers that Be (or the Powers that Were). European theocrats reviled him for his sweeping materialist vision of humans as passion-inflamed meat puppets, a vision that ripples forward to the present moment, with discoveries in neurophysiology that bracket (perhaps even obliterate) our hallowed notions of libertarian self-rule."I consider men's affects [emotions] and properties just like other natural things. And of course human affects, if they do not indicate man's power, at least indicate the power and skill of Nature, no less than many other things we wonder at and take pleasure in contemplating" (Bk. IV, Prop. 57).Not that Spinoza's ethics are remotely "scientific." Rather they tend to seesaw between common-sense folk-morality and some spicy, proto-Nietzschean "revaluation of all values"-style critique, particularly in his (subtle but derogatory) views on pity, humility, compassion, and remorse. But throughout the treatise, there's a prevailing Vulcan faith in "reason" as the ultimate metaethical arbiter, which pitches Spinoza into a vague, dithering scientism without the science, a residual Platonism which magically equates knowing things "as they truly are" with nobility and virtue, a fuzzy non sequitur that has plagued philosophy for millennia. "Things are good only insofar as they aid man to enjoy the life of the mind" (Bk. IV, App. V). Contra Spinoza, flat-earthers can be sweet people, while bookish savants can be callous dicks. Freewill is largely kaput in the cosmos of The Ethics. By the luck of the draw (our constitutional and environmental preconditions), some of us will ripen into bravura, meticulously-carved marionettes, whilst others are condemned to be wormeaten Punch & Judy sockpuppets stewing in vice, superstition, and fear. (I say "largely" kaput because there's some cognitive dissonance in The Ethics over whether the enlightened Spinozan has achieved a tentative sort of freedom, stemming from the veto-powers of the superego. Hence, there can be freedom from the passions, but not from causation. Spock didn't choose to be Spock, et al.) Those who brazenly declare themselves "free" are usually the least so, since they evade the self-deconstructive labor of unwinding the myriad threads of their constitutive origins and experiences. So paradoxically, Spinoza would hail those who plunge facefirst into the pregnant abyss of determinism as possessing true freedom, by which he means a life uncontaminated by the resentment and emotional tumult of our passions and addictions, our blistering narcissism and neurotic sense of entitlement. But again, since we did not design the metaethical Universe which "reason" is primed to discover and retrofit our values to, freedom comes to mean empowerment and joy (within our limitations) rather than causation-trumping liberty. In other words, some puppets get an eleven-stringed guidewire with greased ball-socket joints and gyro-stabilized swivel-torso, while the rest of us sock-monkeys bob and weave on tangled hanks of rotting yarn. The upshot here is that the virtue-seeking rationality of the Alpha marionettes compels them to upgrade and enlighten as many of the Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons as they can, for the community's sum benefit. "Everyone who is led by reason desires for others also the good he wants for himself" (Bk. IV, Prop. 73). This radical revolt against Plato's philosopher-kings helps make Spinoza a future prince of democratic modernity.At the omega point of enlightenment, the true love of God would have us (lucky-rolling scions of serendipity) reason our way to a Taoist aeyrie of universal empathy in the Vulcan embrace of cosmic determinism:"The mind is determined to wish for this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by a cause, and this again by another, and so on to infinity. This realization teaches us to hate no one, to despise no one, to mock no one, to be angry with no one, and to envy no one."So spaketh the Jewish Buddha of 17th-century Amsterdam.All the more dismaying when, in Book V ("On Human Freedom"), Spinoza tumbles off the rails into theobabble mystagoguery, and this just a few pages after bashing Descartes for skyhooking "occult qualities" to prop up the latter's rickety Cogito. Pot calls kettle noir.Still, this is two centuries before the Darwinian upgrade. By the lights of his time, Spinoza had balls of brass and a suped-up frontal lobe. The prince of philosophers, and patron saint of the brainy, dispassionate Outsider.

  • Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
    2018-12-19 13:16

    Here's video footage of a pretty good discussion of a great, frequently glossed over, and far too often underappreciated philosopher who is one of my favorite philosophers of all time:Spinoza, A DiscussionSteven Nadler is an excellent authority on Spinoza and has written a few books on him. I really like Catherine Wilson as well from this and now have several of her books and articles on my to-read list.The other guys are sort of annoying and make some rather disagreeable points in my opinion. Especially Mr. Blue Shirt and the guy who keeps going on about Freud because he doesn't seem to know about much else. But Nadler is solid and so is Catherine Wilson. Also...There are links to the entire work as published online here:In Ethics, Spinoza attempts to demonstrate a "fully cohesive philosophical system that strives to provide a coherent picture of reality and to comprehend the meaning of an ethical life. Following a logical step-by-step format, it defines in turn the nature of God, the mind, human bondage to the emotions, and the power of understanding -- moving from a consideration of the eternal, to speculate upon humanity’s place in the natural order, freedom, and the path to attainable happiness."

  • Stian
    2019-01-14 14:35

    Perhaps it is the sentimentality that arose in me because of the circumstances under which I read the book that leads me to rate it five stars. There was something about reading this close to the window, with snow slowly trickling down from the pitch black sky, and the fireplace burning, and always at least 10 clementines by my side to be devoured while I read, that just made it so enjoyable. I don’t wish to make a detailed and big review here (there are other, better ones elsewhere, written by people much more qualified than myself), but it suffices to say that I can see why Einstein fell in love with Spinoza and regarded him as one of his heroes, and I can understand why Russell called him “the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers.” How much do I love that noble manMore than I could tell with wordsI fear though he'll remain aloneWith a holy halo of his own.- Einstein's poem, dedicated to Spinoza.

  • Huda AbuKhoti
    2018-12-31 09:33

    سبينوزا أبهرني.. لم أكن أتوقع من هذا الكتاب أن يكون مقنعًا لهذه الدرجة، أظن أن المنطقية الهندسية البحتة رفعت من مستوى تقبل المحتوى بصورة عظيمة.. كانت قراءة ممتعة و فريدة من نوعهاعالج الكتاب خمس مواضيع متتابعة و مرتبطة ارتباطًا وثيقًا.. فبدأ بالميتافيزيقيا ثم انتقل إلى معالجة الأخلاق لذلك من الصعب جدًّا فهم المحتوى لفصل من الفصول دون قراءة سابقيهالفصل الأول يتحدث عن الله و الأمر الذي أثار اندهاشي هو أن الاستنتاجات التي وصل إليها سبينوزا في معظمها توافق الأفكار الإسلامية بصورة عجيبة! فالله لدى سبينوزا ليس محدودًا بزمان و لا مكان، و لا بالصفات البشرية المعهودة، و لكن جميع المخلوقات متصلة بالله بصورة من الصور و إن كانت محدودة. الأمر الذي لا حظته عند استناد سبينوزا للعلم في وقته و الذي كان في القرن السابع عشر تقريبًا هو الفكرة الخاطئة عن الكون و الذي كان يعتقد به أن الكون لا متناهٍ و بذلك اختلط عليه تعريف الله سبحانه و تعالى و ساواهما بالتعريف. فبذلك خذله علم الإنسان المحدود و مع أن هذه الفلسفة قد تكون منطقية في زمانه إلا أنها مخالفة للعلم في وقتنا الحاضرالفصل الثاني عالج الروح و الجسد، و قد اتصل اتصالًا وثيقًا بتعريفه لله.. بالمختصر اقترح سبينوزا أن الروح و الجسد وجهان لعملة واحدة، فقد اعتبر الجسد امتدادًا من الله و الذي اعتبره جوهرًا لا متناهيًا و امتدادًا أما الروح فهي صفة من صفاته اللا متناهية.الأمر الجميل في فكرة سبينوزا هي أن العلم الحديث يوافقه الرأي تمامًا في كثير من أفكاره.. فها هو يصرح بتأثير الحالة النفسية على الجسد و أعضاء الجسد المختلفة على النفسية الإنسانية و الذي تم اثباته علميًّا في العصر الحديث. و بذلك هو يضحد فكرة ديكارت القائلة بانفصالهما. نقطة أخرى طرحها هنا أن "الإنسان يفكر" مخالفًا بذلك فكرة ديكارت القائلة بأن "الإنسان هو الفكر" يجب الانتباه أن الفكر لدى سبينوزا مختلف بماهيته عن ديكارت، فهو مجموعة من الأفكار التي تعبر على الإنسان و قد تتغير بتغير الزمان أما الفكرة الديكارتية فإنها تقول بأن النفس الإنسانية هي الفكر و الفكر يعبر عن ماهية الإنسان. هذا التعريف الذكي جدًّا للفكر عند سبينوزا يفسر "إنسانية" المجانين و الأطفال، فإنهم حسب التعريف الديكارتي لا يرتقون إلى المستوى الإنساني مما يثير الامتعاض و عدم القبول لدى معظم البشر.الفصلان الثالث و الرابع كانا الفصلين الأكثر امتاعًا.. أحببتهما جدًّا و كنت أعيد قراءة مقاطعهما و استنتاجاته.. فهما زبدة هذا الكتاب نوعًا ما.. حيث يصنف الانفعالات و تعريفاتها، فلم يترك انفعالًا من انفعالات البشر حتى تلك الناجمة عن الإدمان على الكحول إلا و عرفها تعريفًا شافيًا و بين مدى تأثيرها على اختيارات و قناعات البشر.. و أهم استنتاجاته أيضًا أن الإنسان هو الذي يتحكم بمدى تأثير لانفعالات العرضية على نفسه و اختياراتهالفصل الأخير كان بمثابة الخاتمة للكتاب.. فبين كيف يستطيع الانسان السيطرة على هذه الانفعالات.. كما أنه اقترح أن الإنسان نوعًا ما أبدي بما أن أفكار الأبدية راودته.. فبذلك يجب أن تصل روحه و جسده لهذه الفكرة، و إن لم يكن قد حدد ماهية و وقت حدوث ذلككنت لأعطيه الخمس نجمات لكنني وجدت بعض الأفكار الخاطئة فيه فلن أستطيع فعل ذلك لكنه كتاب ممتع بالفعل

  • Aasem Bakhshi
    2018-12-25 06:29

    No matter which intellectual/religious background you come from, its one text that has the power to change your conception of cosmos. Its hard to decide what is more awe-inspiring: Spinoza's God or his Man and that is perhaps the ultimate success of his supreme and elegant egoism.

  • Lobstergirl
    2018-12-24 13:29

    Appears to be written in some kind of code.

  • أحمد علام
    2019-01-09 13:34

    كتاب عظيم بالفعل , (سبينوزا) أخطر فيلسوف فى تاريخ الفلسفة فى رأيى , ربما لذلك كان يدعو (هيجل) طلاب الفلسفة أن يكونوا فى بدايتهم (سبينوزيين) على حد تعبيره والحق أن الكلام عن (سبينوزا) _من جهتى_ بعد كل المؤلفات التى عالجت فلسفته يعد بلا قيمه , بل يعد آية من آيات الغرور الساذج , لكن مالفت الانتباه هنا موقف الإخوة الذين يقارنون بين رؤية (سبينوزا) , ورؤية الإسلام لفكرة (الله) زاعمين التوافق بين الرؤيتين ربما لأنهم لم يتعمقوا فى فكر الرجل , فغرتهم ألفاظ بعينها , تشبه فى الظاهر مالديهم من تراث , لكنها تغاير المعنى تمامًا ومن دلائل ذلك أن سبينوزا بدايةً قد رفض الأديان التقليدية جميعًا , وأساطيرها , من نشأة الكون , ومعجزات الأنبياء , والأنبياء أنفسهم (والأديان تتشابه فى هذا الشأن لا شك) , فى كتابه الآخر (رسالة فى الدين والسياسة) , مطبقًا بذلك منطق الشك الذى أحياه (ديكارت) , ووضع مبادئه , ولم يطبقها لاعتبارات سياسية وسبينوزا إذ يقول بجوهر واحد فى الكون , ويجعله (الله) لا يقول بالوحدوية التى عند المسليمن إطلاقًا , إنما يغاير بذلك المفهوم الديكارتى بثنائية الجوهر (مفكر , و ممتد) , ثم أن (الله) عند (سبينوزا) يساوى الطبيعة , ويختلف كل الاختلاف عن (الله) التقليدى فى شتى الديانات ؛ فلا يتدخل شؤؤن الكائنات , ولا يرعاهم , ثم أنه ليس حرًا يتصرف وفق هواه. وإن كان سبينوزا يصرح بهذه الحرية , حيث (الله) هو العلة الحرةالوحيدة , فهو لا يعنى الحرية المطلقة بمفهومها المعهود فى الأديان , إنما يقصد أن لا شيء خارج ذاته يقيده , فباعتباره معادلاً لقوانين الطبيعة , تكون كل أفعاله محددة بدقة على خلاف (الإنسان) الذى ليس له حرية الإرادة ؛ لأن ضرورة البقاء تقرر الغريزة , والغريزة تقرر الرغبة , والرغبة تقرر الفكر والعمل , وقرارات العقل فى حقيقتها رغبات , ومن ثم فليس للعقل إرداة حرة , وعلى ذلك يظن الإنسان أن له حرية الإرادة , غير مُدرك أن رغياته هى التى تقوده , ويشبه (سبينوزا) ذلك بحجر قُذِف فى الهواء , ولو أمكن لهذا الحجر أن يدرك , لتوهم أن مساره كان اختيارًا بإرادته الحرة , وأنه كذلك هو الذى يحدد نقطة سقوطه على الأرض ولأن (الله) كما يرى (سبينوزا) هو الطبيعة , هو الجوهر الرئيس , فهو لذلك ليس محدودًا بـزمان أو مكان , وليس لأنه يعلو عن كل وصف كما فى الديانة الإسلامية إنه (الله) باختصار عند (سبينوزا) هو قوانين الطبيعة , وعقيدته هى هذا النور الفطرى , إنه مؤمن بالسعادة التى لا تكون إلا عن طريق التأمل الخالص المحض , لذلك فإن إلحاد الفلاسفة الذين يعتمدون على هذا النور الفطرى _لدية_ هو الإيمان الصحيح , بينما الإلحاد الصيحيح هو إيمان المتدينين القائم على الخرافات والأوهام بذلك لا يكون (سبينوزا) متفقًا فى مفهوم (الله) مع أى دين , فضلاً عن دين الإسلام , ولعل بعض العبارات السابقة هى التى أوقعت البعض فى هذا اللبس

  • Maaz
    2019-01-13 14:32

    Can I jump farther and state that Spinoza may have killed God even before Nietzsche. I mean, forget the axioms and propositions. The idea of a God, in all human religions is very much contradictory and tricky, you want God to be superior, different, and 'unlike anything else' as is mentioned in the Koran. Yet at the same time, you attribute humane characteristics to this same God. Most importantly, is that he watches, guards, loves and hates every one of us. Well, Spinoza ingeniously took this idea to the absurd. The tone of the Ethics, is like educating an adult who still thinks childishly, like 'Take some freaking responsibility alright?'. God has no passions whatsoever, he does not love you nor hate you. He just doesn't care. Maybe he cannot even if he willed. Maybe he is something that isn't after all. You can see where this line of reasoning is going.Oh, and the oneness of God, led everything else to be within the realm or dependent on God. Now, Proposition 23 says: The will cannot be called a free cause, but only a necessary one. Furthermore when the human mind perceives something, we are saying that God who constitutes the human mind has this idea. Yes. Spinoza explicitly concludes the following 'men are deceived in what they think themselves free, of their own free will'. Even the suspense of judgement is only a perception and not an act of free will. I could hear Spinoza's evil laugh while writing this.Determinism. At some point in the book, Spinoza acknowledges that maybe it is not 'free will' of God, but just the necessity of his being. The idea that an emotion can only be replaced or overcome by a stronger emotion, which Nietzsche preached just a century later. The concepts of good, bad, praise, and blame are all non-existent human ideals. The only freedom man can achieve is acknowledging the determinism of this world. You can see how this resulted in the excommunication of Spinoza from his Jewish community. One of my favorite quotes from the book which I love entertaining:'men are conscious of their desire, but unaware of the causes by which their desires are determined'.

  • Rodrigo
    2018-12-28 12:42

    It was...beautiful. Just beautiful.I'd never read something as delightfully coherent and well structured as this strange little work. The format, if a little dry, was perfect for what it was trying to achieve: creating an entire system of thought based on independently conceived concepts, and their clearly defined relations. Wikipedia tells me that the format is called "Geometric", and that it is modeled after Euclid's "Elements", but that's just a description of the arrangement of the arguments, which doesn't really do any justice to Spinoza's work. The truly remarkable thing about the "Ethics" is how well defined were the concepts used, and how they were all made to fit into each other in one way or another. And the part about thought and extension as mirroring properties of the same fundamental substance (god or/as nature; deus sive natura), that was just genius. I doubt there is a better way to solve the whole dualism problem (if mind and body are completely different things, then why is it that things that affect the body can affect the mind (like a cup of coffee)?).Absolutely no empirical basis, though.It's nice as a thought-experiment, but it's ultimately useless.

  • Czarny Pies
    2019-01-13 07:37

    I decided to read this book after having read Isaac Bashevis Singer's novel "The Family Moskat" in which the protagonist cites it as justification for his contention that God was to blame for the Nazi Endlosung. It is in fact to see how Spinoza's Ethics could be used to arrive at such a conclusion. Unfortunately, having never taken a philosophy course while at university, I was unable to understand the section in which Spinoza specifically argues that his system cannot be used to argue that God is responsible for the unfortunate things that happen to humans.This much said Spinoza's ethics is very clearly a great masterpiece. He combines Euclidean geometry and Thomist dialectics to argue that that the interests of man and God are perfectly aligned. He does not say anywhere that God could or should like us as individuals. It is easy to understand why the Catholic Church placed it on its index of banned works. It states the case for deism in a concise and efficient manner.

  • William Schram
    2018-12-18 08:14

    I really enjoyed this book. Spinoza uses a distinct style to enumerate all of his proofs of the nature of reality. Starting like Euclid with a few definitions and axioms, Spinoza expands upon these with well reasoned arguments to determine many things.The book is split into five major parts. The first part talks about the existence of a being called God that is perfect and infinite and takes no part in human affairs. The second part is concerned with the human mind and it's limitations. The third part talks about human nature. The fourth part talks about how those aspects of human nature limit ourselves to being swayed by our passions. The fifth and final part talks about how we can overcome that with the rational mind.Overall it is a brilliant work and I cannot praise it enough. I will read it again if I have time.

  • Cassandra Kay Silva
    2019-01-13 14:30

    This book was incredibly surprising. I had heard a bit about Spinoza and perhaps had a very wrong view of his outlook/philosophy due to some lets just say pre conceived notions. Spinoza's God is amazing. If I had to choose a form of god to believe in it would be this. His point by point approach, and linking of each axiom was absolutely candy to my brain. I loved his approach and found it so clean cut. A god that had been stripped of its human tenancies, a god of nature, a god defined. Finally! I am so glad I bought this book. It deserves more study and will remain close to my bed until I can further ravage its pages.

  • Mazdak Paskeh
    2019-01-16 07:34

    چاپ انتشارات شفیعی رو هرگز نخونید

  • Farah Al-Shuhail
    2019-01-06 13:33

    الفكرة الرئيسية للكتاب هي برهنة اتصال الجزء بالكل أو ما قد يشير إليه سبينوزا بـ"الجوهر" ويعني بذلك الله, واتخذ الكاتب اسلوب التسلسل المنطقي طريقاً له في اثبات ذلك. في الباب الأول ركز سبينوزا على اثبات وجود إله متبعاً نهج علماء الهندسة, فهو يستعين بالبراهين والنتائج العقليه ويزن الأمور بقسطاس المنطق, والمدهش حقاً انه يقنعك بوجوده دون التطرق - ولو لمره واحدة - إلى الديانات والرسالات والمعجزات والوحي, لذلك اعتبر هذا الباب مناسب للرد على الملحدين كونه منطقي بحت. والجدير بالذكر ان الإله عند سبينوزا ليس إله جنة ونار أو إله متحكم بالأقدار, لكنه مع ذلك يشترك في بعض صفاته بالرب عند المسلمين, يقول في القضية 5 من الباب الأول: "لا يمكن أن يوجد في الطبيعة جوهران أو عدة جواهر من طبيعة أو صفة واحدة" فهو يستدل بذلك على وحدانية الله, ويقول في القضية 17 من نفس الباب: "إن الله يتصرف بقوانين طبيعته وحدها ولا يخضع لأي قهر" يوافق هذا الرأي النهج الإسلامي ايضاً.الباب الثاني من الكتاب يناقش طبيعة النفس وأصلها, ويصحح مفاهيم الأشخاص الذين يخضعون لإنفعالاتهم دوماً ويصفون انفسهم مع ذلك بالأحرار, إذ انهم - وإن كانوا يعون اعمالهم - يجهلون الأسباب التي دفعتهم إليها, وخصص الباب الذي يليه للتعمق في اصل الإنفعالات وطبيعتها وترك الحديث عن عبودية الإنسان وحريته في البابين الرابع والخامس.أشد ما لفت انتباهي في الكتاب معيار الخير والشر, يقول سبينوزا: "أننا لا نسعى إلى شيء ولا نريده ولا نشتهيه ولا نرغب فيه لكوننا نعتقده خيراً, بل نحن, على العكس من ذلك, نعتبره خيراً لكوننا نسعى إليه ونريده ونشتهيه ونرغب فيه." أراه هنا يقدّم سبباً واضحاً لإختلاف معنى الخير والشر لدى البشر. وبقدر ما كانت القراءة لسبينوزا ممتعة ومفيدة كانت صعبة وشاقه, فهو يبسط الأمور المعقدة تارة ويعقد الأمور البسيطة تارة, وعلى الرغم من افكاره المذهلة, واستنتاجاته المدهشة, إلا أنه يفتقر إلى الأمثلة, ولو أردت انتقاد الكاتب على طريقته لقلت:(1) الفرضيات العظيمة بحاجه إلى أدلة عظيمة. (2) حشد الأدلة يستند على ذكر تجارب وأمثلة تؤكد الفرضيات.

  • Paul Bond
    2018-12-27 13:27

    I idealized philosophy as the art of progressing from mundane, obvious facts to grand cosmic conclusions, all made unanswerable through the authority of logic. I now see that this is a fantasy of philosophy, though never more alluring than in Spinoza's Ethics. In a relatively small book patterned after Euclid's Elements, Spinoza lays claim to not only deep knowledge of the universe, but certain knowledge. It is difficult to keep from being swept up in Spinoza's audacious project. Here, he proves God exists. (But a God that pays us no mind). There, Spinoza dispels all contingency from the universe. (But insists on individual moral responsibility). Good, evil, freedom, knowledge, and fate... Spinoza hits all the fundamental issues in rapid-fire. In the years since, load-bearing elements of his logical process have been debunked. More important to me, his bottom line conclusions are totally unworkable. If life is just a matter of watching the necessary unfold, action and commitment would be drained of all dignity. As stunning as Spinoza's work is, it supports only one mode of life (the contemplative) and fails as a complete model for human endeavor. Essential but not sufficient.

  • Mohammad Ali
    2018-12-26 12:28

    من از این کتاب همه ی قضایا، برخی از براهین قضایا و تقریبا همه ی ذیل ها و توضیح های آغاز و پایان فصل ها را خوانده ام.من خوانندگان رو توجه می دم به طور خاص به قسمت های مربوط به نفس و عواطف و غلبه ی عقل. برای من بخش های مربوط به تک جوهری بودن آنقدر اهمیت ندارد که بخش های دیگر. اما عموما اسپینوزا تنها به آن بخش اول شناخته می شود. هر چه به پایان کتاب که قسمت مهم تر آن - از حیث تقرب به غایت اخلاقی اسپینوزا - است نزدیک می شویم اهمیت نیروی درونی صیانت از ذات - یا کوناتوس - هویداتر می شود. در پی همین مفهوم است که فضیلت مبدل می شود به همان قدرت - البته قدرتی که در نهایت می شود شهود خداوند. و در پی همین مفهوم است که دموکراسی نظام سیاسی معقول می گردد - البته صرفا در حد آزادی بیان.

  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau
    2019-01-01 13:26

    Another book that I am sure I was not able to fully understand; but - "Nothing exists from whose nature some effect does not follow." Taken from that perspective I am glad to have encountered the writings of this great philosopher.

  • Sean Wilson
    2019-01-08 11:24

    I haven't even finished this yet, but this book is special. I believe in Spinoza's God.

  • Bernardo Kaiser
    2019-01-04 07:26

    Probably one of the most challenging books I've ever read in my whole life. I could not complete it, in fact, I could not even pass the first pages if it wasn't for the help of two reading guides, one by Beth Lord from Edimburgh University of Philosophy and other by J. Thomas Cook from Continuum Company, and I'm sure most of it still just went through my head.I am not in the position of offering any criticism of it. I can only say that the pleasure I've extracted from reading it must be very similar to the one a hiker obtains from a wearisome hike, or a mathematician from solving a hard equation. At first it seems beyond your capacity, the language is completely foreign - it is a hard task. But slowly the pieces starts falling together, and you can start backtracking, feeling the logical flow, understanding the concepts and from whence they came from. It is an arduous task, but it is one that really opens your mind for new concepts and ideas.I hope that one I can come back to this book and speak with it in the same tone. i was thrilled to find some familiar voices, both past (like Epictetus) and future (like Nietzsche) in the text. Hopefully in the (far) future we can dialogue as equals and i can finally build a more relevant opinion on it.

  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    2019-01-06 12:34

    According to the introduction, “Baruch Spinoza, who wrote in the mid-seventeenth century, has been considered the first modern philosopher, for he was the first to write philosophy from a standpoint beyond commitment to any particular religious persuasion. He was also among the first philosophers in modernity to advocate democracy as the best form of government.” The introduction claims he was influenced by Aristotle, Hobbes, Descartes as well as such figures of Judaic-Arabic thought as Maimonides. Ethics is Spinoza’s masterpiece--it came to my attention because it was on Good Reading’s list of “100 Significant Books.” In a way though, the title is a misnomer. Ethics, the study of right conduct, is only a small part of the treatise. Rather Ethics treats nearly the entirety of philosophy in its five parts. The first part, “Concerning God” consists of a proof of God’s existence. It’s one of those ontological arguments, which I find among the most unconvincing of any attempts at a case for God. One of those that thinks the very definition of God is itself proof of existence. There’s a peculiar consequence though of how Spinoza defines God. He believes that a consequence of God’s very perfection is that “neither intellect nor will appertain to God’s nature.” After all, how can a perfect being wish to change any aspect of the universe? If God is infinite, how can he be outside Nature? Thus all is set, God does not and cannot intervene in the universe; there is no room for the supernatural. So Spinoza’s own definition and “proof” of God reduces him to triviality. God is just another word for all that exists--in which case, I don’t get why bother with the concept. (On the other hand, I understand it was precisely this line of argument which helped develop arguments for religious freedom and allowed free thinking, deism, and atheism to come out from hiding.) Part Two, “Of the Nature and Origin of the Mind” was the thorniest to read and understand. The best I can make out, contra Descartes, Spinoza denies any dichotomy between mind and body--both are expressions of an individual.Part Three, Four, and Five are all closely connected. Part Three “On the Origin and Nature of Emotions” argues that “all emotions are attributed to desire, pleasure or pain” according to “each man’s nature,” recognizing individual differences in tastes and values. At the end he defines various emotions according to this system. Spinoza seems to argue for this being very deterministic, which makes me wonder, why bother with an ethical system at all, if humans are unable to conform to it? This is clarified somewhat in the next two parts, “Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of Emotions” and “Of Human Freedom”--which doesn’t deal with politics as you might think, but with Freedom from those pesky emotions, by “framing a system of right conduct” and developing a habit of conforming to reason. Politics was touched on more in Part Four, where the influence of Hobbes idea of the social contract was obvious.It was from Section Four that I felt I took away something valuable. Much of the heart of Spinoza’s ethics is very reminiscent to me of Aristotle’s ethics, which established the whole line of “rational ethical egoism” which I find so much more appealing than appeals to disinterested altruism such as Kant’s rule-based “categorical imperative” that calls for conforming to ethical rules without caring about consequences--to yourself or others--or utilitarianism which asks you to calculate the greatest good for the greatest number without caring about tramping on individuals with hobnailed boots. Spinoza, like Aristotle, emphasizes that ethics is about human flourishing and happiness. But what I like about Spinoza, that I don’t remember from Aristotle (who admittedly I haven’t reread in years) is his emphasis on reciprocity and empathy--in other words, the Golden Rule that has been a near universal in moral thinking from Confucius to Jesus: “Every man should desire for others the good which he seeks for himself.” Spinoza recognizing humans flourish best with other humans argues it’s in a person’s self-interest, and makes a person happiest, when consequently people “are just, faithful, and honourable in their conduct.” I like that squaring of the circle of selfishness and altruism.Mind you, this was difficult, dry reading. Philosophy doesn’t have to be. I found Plato, with his dialogue format and use of metaphor and story quite fun, and Aristotle quite lucid. In comparison to Spinoza's Ethics, Descartes Discourse on Method is easy. Spinoza writes as if he’s setting out a geometry text. His arguments are set out as definitions, axioms, corollaries, postulates, and especially propositions and their proofs. There are, mercifully, notes where he does set out his arguments in a more conventional narrative form, but especially in Part Two, when dealing with such concepts as the relationship between body and mind, and how we know what we know--well, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Plato and Aristotle write as if their audience are ordinary people--Spinoza as if his audience consists of mathematicians, scientists and philosophers. So no, I’m not saying that in giving this a rating Goodreads equates with “Really Liked It” I’m saying this was a fun read, and I can’t even say on first read on my own I felt I fully comprehended and got out of this all that I could. I possibly should have read more about Spinoza by popularizers before tackling this--it was hard going. But Spinoza is definitely a thinker worth encountering.

  • Miloš
    2019-01-03 12:42

    determinizam, determinizam, determinizam... (neodstupna kauzlanost)"[BOG ili PRIRODA] ne postoji ni zbog kakvoga cilja, isto tako i ne dela ni zbog kakvog cilja; kao njegovo postojanje, tako ni njegovo delanje nema nikakvog principa ni cilja". (174 str.)p.s.Spinozin Bog je kao "ono" u Solarisu.neosetljivo i nesvesno "biće" (?)nema cilj, ima principbriše se hrišćansko stvaranje ex nihilo - jer - Iz ničega ne nastaje ništa.

  • Randall
    2018-12-20 11:36

    a real bore of a chore, but a rewarding experience if you can wade your way through. i read it in school, and probably (definitely) wouldn't have stayed the course otherwise. from what i've read in philosophy (which isn't much), spinoza's definition of god is, to me, the most logical and most affecting. (spinoza was a liberal jew who lived in amsterdam in the 17th century. labeled an atheist, though he adamantly denied it, he was excommunicated from the jewish community and banished from his native city. he lived the rest of his life ascetically and in exile, working as a lens maker and teaching latin. now if that doesn't whet your spiritual appetite, i don't know what will.)