Thursday, December 1, 2016

633: Spinoza on "Good" and "Evil"

Like many European philosophers in the early modern period, Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) developed a moral philosophy
that fused the insights of ancient theories of virtue with a modern conception of humans, their place in nature, and their relationship to God. 
Unlike many other authors in this period, however, Spinoza was strongly opposed to the believe, that man was the center of the universe 
and had no commitment whatsoever to traditional theological views. Let’s draw the picture of man, how Spinoza saw him.
Perhaps the most important metaphysical principle involved in Spinoza’s ethical theory is his view that “Each thing, as far as it can by its own power, strives to persevere in its being”.  
The striving at issue, which was called “conatus” in Latin, is not to be confused with conscious effort, since Spinoza takes the principle to govern objects and bodies as well as minds.  
Spinoza is making the metaphysical claim that each thing is possessed of an inner force, by which it continuously reasserts its own existence.
The power, which drives us are the affects of Desire, Joy and Sadness. This reasserting oneself can be called psychological egoism in this context.
How do we define Good and Evil in relation to this egoism, which is the drive behind all our actions?
In his answer we see, that Spinoza is not committed to any theological view whatsoever indeed. He is, what is called a moral anti-realist.
A moral realist holds that at least some things are good or bad independently of what we desire or believe to be the case. 
Spinoza denies this clearly in the Preface of part 4 of the ethica: “As for the terms good and bad, they indicate no positive quality in things regarded in themselves, 
but are merely modes of thinking, or notions which we form from the comparison of things one with another. 
Thus one and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent. For instance, music is good for him that is melancholy, 
bad for him that mourns; for him that is deaf, it is neither good nor bad.” -end quote-
Thus Spinoza regards good and evil as labels, “modes of thinking,” that human beings apply to things, but which really reveal little about the things to which they are applied.
So, there is nothing good or evil in nature as such? How does Spinoza underpin this claim? Again, very non-theologically.
In the Preface of part 4 of the Ethica we read: “Now we showed in the Appendix to Part I., that Nature does not work with an end in view.”  
And: “The reason or cause why (..) Nature exists, and the reason why it acts, are one and the same. 
Therefore, as it does not exist for the sake of an end, so neither does it act for the sake of an end; of its existence and of its action there is neither origin nor end.”
In other words, Nature, or call it matter, just exist. Just like that.
If moral qualities, like good and evil, were objective, that is… a quality of the object,  then nothing could have contrary moral qualities at one and the same time. 
But many things do have contrary moral qualities at one and the same time, with respect to different observers. 
Spinoza was a rationalist and thence, man is all about mind: the mind’s power of thinking is its perfection; joy is an increase in that power or a passage to a greater perfection
and sadness is a decrease in that power or a passage to a lesser perfection. What we label as good is thus a step nearer to perfection as Spinoza thought.
And here are two contemporary scientists, on the one hand Frans de Waal, the primatologist, who shows that Spinoza is fundamentally wrong in his basic assumptions about man.
And on the other hand we have Antonio Damasio, the neuroscientist, who says that in some respect Spinoza was right and thence his inspiration.
In the coming lectures we’ll investigate this intriguing situation.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Maybe Spinoza is becoming a bit too complicated?
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): he is talking about nature of everything?
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and everyone??
[13:22] herman Bergson: yes he is
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): so attributes dont matter
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he tries explaining how everything goes together in some way as i get it
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and nature doesn’t have a goal
[13:23] CB Axel: Happiness comes from an increase in the power of our thoughts?
[13:23] herman Bergson: Indeed, except the drive to persevere
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well
[13:24] herman Bergson: and like Hobbes he believes that man only goes for his own personal interests
[13:24] herman Bergson: And there Spinoza like Hobbes are wrong
[13:25] herman Bergson: But we'll  get to that next time
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:26] herman Bergson: And this conclusion is based on very recent scientific insights
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah that is it
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): science changes lots of things
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:26] CB Axel: I'll be interested to hear about that.
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Gemma...I hope I'll surprise you with that next time
[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i think you surprise us all Herman
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): YAY! (yay!)
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that will be thursday
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes...Thursday :-)
[13:28] herman Bergson: the interesting thing today is that there is no good or bad in the world, but our opinion about things as being good or bad
[13:28] herman Bergson: good is not an attribute of matter but a mode of thinking
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and i do have my opinions
[13:28] CB Axel: I can buy that.
[13:29] herman Bergson: what are your opinions Gemma? :-)
[13:29] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): mostly about everything going on
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): killing innocent people by dropping bombs on them can never be a good thing
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats totally evil to me
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): even if nature itself don’t care
[13:30] herman Bergson: But suppose these "innocent" people were heading for your home to kill you, Bejiita?
[13:30] CB Axel: That's how bombing is justified.
[13:31] CB Axel: That doesn't make it good.
[13:31] herman Bergson: YEs CB...we have to face that problem
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm i doubt that, most aer good people  think who very well could be my friends if i had a chance to know them
[13:32] herman Bergson: But suppose it is the only way to stop these people from killing you and yor family?
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its chaos over there for sure and i wish it would just stop
[13:33] herman Bergson: An other example then....
[13:33] herman Bergson: suppose a friend knocks on your door and asks you to hide him....
[13:33] CB Axel: I suppose self-defense is justified, but what's going on in Aleppo is not self-defence on either side.
[13:34] herman Bergson: He is hunted by the secret police...just for his opinions...when they catch him he will be executed...
[13:34] herman Bergson: Syria is a dirty war with a lot of war criminals in action
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that happened many times in ww2
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and probably now
[13:34] herman Bergson: a different story
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed herman
[13:34] CB Axel: Opinions are not evil. Acting on some opinions can be evil. In my opinion. °͜°
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:35] herman Bergson: ok...let's continue the story....the secret police knocks on your door....asks for your LIE....he is not here, you say
[13:35] herman Bergson: but to lie is not good morally...or?
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): or is it
[13:36] herman Bergson: And here  you hear Spinoza....
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): depends on the moral code one is following
[13:36] CB Axel: I wouldn't lie. I'd tell them that the evil person they are looking for is not there. °͜°
[13:36] herman Bergson: not speaking the truth is just an is how we label the act that makes it good or bad
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i see
[13:37] herman Bergson: they would disagree with you CB :-)
[13:37] CB Axel: Let them.
[13:37] herman Bergson: they are chacing an evil person, they'll say
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): then the police will ask you, how do you know that we are looking for a person CB?
[13:37] CB Axel: Because they asked for a person.
[13:38] CB Axel: They asked for a person with evil opinions. I don't know anyone with evil opinions.
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): there you go!
[13:38] CB Axel: Besides, for someone's opinion to matter to me, I have to have respect for that person.
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and there is an old saying
[13:40] herman Bergson: I am not so much specialized in Spinoza that I can tell where his point of view leads to in his opinion.....
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): alls fair in love an d war
[13:40] herman Bergson: Does it mean that everyone has his own opinion about good and bad?
[13:40] herman Bergson: How can there be law then?
[13:40] CB Axel: Isn't that what Spinoza was saying?
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i guess it has to be agreed on
[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Spinoza didn't live long enough to explain to us all that he has written
[13:41] CB Axel: If enough people have the opinion that something is evil, it can be made a law.
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well, Beertje, at least I did not yet find a clear answer to my question indeed
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): is there really one
[13:42] herman Bergson: He relates moral good with the increase of joy, the good thing or action brings us....
[13:43] CB Axel: But murdering some people could lead me to great joy. °͜°
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well that i disagree with sometimes we do the moral thing and are furious!!!
[13:43] herman Bergson: You should ask such a question within the context of Spinoza's philosophy, Gemma
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i did it because i had to
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and it brings me no joy
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes....that is more the Kantian approach of morality....
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): knew it
[13:44] herman Bergson: Our obligation to do things....but here it do what is right...
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i hope Spinoza was happy
[13:45] herman Bergson: I really have no idea Gemma...
[13:45] herman Bergson: But I wonder....
[13:45] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): me too
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe he was, but he had a lot of reasons to be afraid
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): perhaps if he had lived longer
[13:46] herman Bergson: He was rational, distant, involved....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Wonder what he did when it was Christmas :-)
[13:47] CB Axel: Probably what I do: enjoy the change of season.
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe he had his Saturnalia?
[13:48] herman Bergson: Unfortunately we know little about his personal life
[13:48] herman Bergson: But we know that hte winters in those years were very cold
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:49] herman Bergson: that period is called the small Ice age, if I ma not mistaken
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no thermojackets
[13:49] herman Bergson: Painters painted nice winter landscapes in those days
[13:50] CB Axel: Wouldn't skating on the canals help warm a person?
[13:50] herman Bergson: SO I guess it might be time for you to go out in the snow too now :-)
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a bit maybe at least
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:50] CB Axel: I can work up quite a sweat shovelling snow.
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it is raining like crazy here which is good
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aa thats true, thats heavy indeed
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): has not rained in ages
[13:50] herman Bergson: raining....
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and tomorrow again
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): very good
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm not too god of it gets to dry
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it has been
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats why there are so much wildfires
[13:51] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): water reservoirs very low
[13:51] CB Axel: We had some rain recently, but a friend up in Minnesota had slushy snow.
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and we need water to drink as well
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): plus to make power
[13:52] herman Bergson: Time to dismiss class :-)
[13:52] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:52] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): see you thursday
[13:52] herman Bergson: Thank you all again for your participation ^_^
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well cu thursday
[13:52] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): this was good
[13:52] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now!
[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hugs all
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:52] herman Bergson: Bye Bejiita
[13:52] CB Axel: See you all Thursday.
[13:53] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you  herman and class!
[13:53] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Goodnight

[13:53] bergfrau Apfelbaum: good night :-) Beertje

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

632: From metaphysics to psychology

Spinoza sought primarily to improve the character of human beings, both himself and others, by improving their self-understanding. 
He justified this endeavour ultimately on the grounds that it would bring human beings peace of mind as integral aspect of nature.

His ethical purposes are in many ways Hobbesian. Like Hobbes (1588 - 1679), a contemporary of Spinoza, he conceives of human beings as mechanisms in nature that are motivated 
by self-preservation and individual advantage, and who, by the mutual employment of reason, can improve their way of life. 
Hobbes's aim, however, is to show human beings how best to satisfy their desires by instituting mutually useful political and social constraints on their passions, 
and so to maximize their chances for a relatively long and pleasant life. 
Spinoza's aim, while encompassing Hobbes's, is much more ambitious. It is to show human beings how to achieve a mode of life, 
that largely transcends merely transitory desires and which has as its natural consequences autonomous control over the passions and participation in an eternal blessedness.
At the root of this endeavour we find Proposition 6: “Each thing, insofar as it is in itself, strives to persevere in its being”. 
Spinoza deduces this proposition from Proposition 4: “Nothing can be destroyed, except by a cause external to itself.”
Spinoza adds the general claim, that each thing not only strives to persist in existence, but also strives to prevent any decrease 
in what Spinoza calls power of acting ( potentia agendi) and indeed strives to do whatever will increase its power of acting.
So, we live in a world of things, of which we as a person are one of the many, which can only be destroyed by causes external to ourselves,
which entails that these things strive to persevere in being. In other words, when you do not kick the ball it will stay where it is forever, unless you punch a hole in it.
And the material of the ball will not deteriorate because of its power of acting, but it may by external causes.
We are now ready to turn to Spinoza's naturalistic derivation of psychology proper from the general account of the metaphysics of striving and power of acting.
The aspect of our psychology that Spinoza is most concerned to derive in this way consists of what he calls affects. 
The primary human affects are for Spinoza desire, joy and sadness. They are a part of nature 
insofar as each can be redescribed in terms of striving, a property which all particular things in nature share. 
Human passions are for Spinoza changes, that is, increases or decreases, in the power with which we, or parts of us, strive. Active affects are all increases in the power with which we strive.
As we have seen, for Spinoza, things in general strive to preserve themselves and to increase their power of acting. 
Spinoza's naturalism dictates that the same is true of human beings and, since the strivings of human beings are their desires, where desire is the consciousness of this striving.
It follows that, for Spinoza, all human beings desire to preserve themselves and to increase their power of acting.  
As a preliminary conclusion we could say, that Spinoza regards the human being,  in line with Hobbesian ideas, as a being primary guided by self-interest.
Sounds pretty familiar to me anno 2017….more than 300 years later…
Thank you…. ^_^
Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Spinoza: Tractatus de emendatione intellectus (1660)
Spinoza: Ethica (1677)
Dan Garrett, (ed.), “Cambridge Companion to Spinoza” (2001)

The Discussion

[13:20] Ciska Riverstone: thanx
[13:20] Ciska Riverstone: how does a ball strive?
[13:21] CB Axel: I think Spinoza was thinking of only living things.
[13:21] herman Bergson: this concept of striving does not mean an active behavior....
[13:21] Ciska Riverstone: so what does it mean?
[13:21] Ciska Riverstone: being?
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but a ball does not increase its will of acting, it just preserves its state according to newtons motion laws
[13:21] herman Bergson: the law of inertia, Ciska....
[13:22] CB Axel: Or it could be like Bejiita said last week that striving could be atoms trying to hold themselves together.
[13:22] herman Bergson: when no expertnal influence is on the ball it will strive to be in being as it is...
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): might be like this cb
[13:23] herman Bergson: Striving is not meant here as a psychological is a physical concept
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cause atoms and matter in general want to stay together, that is as long its not for ex nitroglycerin in wih case the opposte is true and it goes kaboom instead
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): to form compounds that are more stable and thus will strive to keep together
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats the basis of all chemistry
[13:24] herman Bergson: I guess it is something like that they had in mind, Bekiita
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): did Spinoza knew that in those days?
[13:25] herman Bergson: But the problem is....
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): same with acids bases and water, both acids and bases want to be like water, that is neutral so they react with most stuff to try form neutral salts
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: well but he used it for describing psychology - no?
[13:25] herman Bergson: No Beertje, neither did Democrites know about atoms, but yet his brain produced such an insight in matter....
[13:25] herman Bergson: that is very amazing....
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: Just by logical reasoning and deductions getting to such ideas...
[13:26] herman Bergson: But THAT is the way of the rationalist....
[13:26] herman Bergson: Deducing from clear and distinct ideas his conclusions...
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:27] herman Bergson: But as I said ...the problem is tat Spinoza isn't really clear about what he means  wit proposition 6...
[13:28] herman Bergson: did he have just matter in mind or did he have human beings in mind....
[13:29] herman Bergson: I have read a number of articles on this matter, but it is way beyond our comprehension....
[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): human beings are matter as well?
[13:29] herman Bergson: It get so specific, so detailed...
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: well for me it  sounds like a classical stimulus response model which works for a lot of material stuff and lead to physics in a clear and simple way
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes we are and in that sense subject to the laws of nature according to Spinoza....
[13:30] CB Axel: I wonder if Spinoza could have imagined that what he was writing would be read and discussed in 2016.
[13:31] herman Bergson: Indeed CB....but the important point here is that he had thoughts which are still relevant....have meaning today...and that is amazing...
[13:31] CB Axel: If he had imagined this, I wonder if he would have made it clearer to understand.
[13:31] herman Bergson: that is the problem with dead philosophers...:-)
[13:31] CB Axel: °͜°
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we can't ask them anymore :)
[13:32] herman Bergson: you can not ask them for a further explanation on what they mean
[13:32] Ms. Valentine (beloved.valencia) chuckles
[13:32] CB Axel: The authors of the Bible are just as bad.
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): for Spinoza himself it was all clear
[13:32] CB Axel: And the US Constitution, for that matter.
[13:32] Ms. Valentine (beloved.valencia): so then is pointing out how matter must behave when manifested as a human being?
[13:32] herman Bergson: soyu get scholars writing long and complicated articles about what he REALLY meant by proposition 6 of Part III of the Ethica....
[13:33] herman Bergson: If I read you correctly Valentine...the idea how matter MUST behave....
[13:33] CB Axel: Thanks to him many scholars are employed. He's a job creator!
[13:34] Ms. Valentine (beloved.valencia): or may behave
[13:34] herman Bergson: That was Spinoza's thing....
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): could he really write clear? because these thoughts were very dangerous in his time
[13:34] herman Bergson: according to natural there was no free will in his opinion
[13:34] herman Bergson: That is another problem indeed, Beertje
[13:35] CB Axel: Ah, so Spinoza and I agree on the free will issue. °͜°
[13:35] herman Bergson: But I think we just must grasp the main points that emerge from the philosophy of Spinoza...
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well CB...I got a serious point there indeed....
[13:36] herman Bergson: If we are matter and matter is governed by laws odf nature, which means determined causality, then there is no chance or free will...
[13:36] herman Bergson: just causality
[13:37] CB Axel: Exactly.
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm
[13:37] herman Bergson: ANd some neuroscientists claim that the material causal activity in our brain makes us act...not our free will
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (head spins)
[13:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): soif I slam someone on the face it's not my fault?
[13:38] CB Axel: Yes.
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm indeed then you could blame a murder on mother nature
[13:39] herman Bergson: well.......
[13:39] CB Axel: If I ever assault anyone, I'll use that defense in court.
[13:39] Ms. Valentine (beloved.valencia) chuckles
[13:39] Ms. Valentine (beloved.valencia): I will watch that trial intently
[13:39] CB Axel: LOL
[13:40] CB Axel: You realize, of course, that the outcome of the trial has also already been determined.
[13:40] herman Bergson: For Spinoza there was free will in the sense that a person is free if there is no external restraint acting on him...
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes CB....Determinism is a fat chapter in philosophy :-)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Could dedicate a whole project to such a subject....
[13:41] CB Axel: But the laws of physics are a restraint themselves.
[13:41] herman Bergson: I did more or less by discussing free will
[13:42] herman Bergson: That is a statement to think about, CB :-))
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm this can get really interesting if we continue on
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and complex!
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:43] herman Bergson: Well...dont be taken along by language...
[13:43] herman Bergson: the word restrain has a connotation of action by someone/something...
[13:44] CB Axel: There can be passive restraints.
[13:44] herman Bergson: so if you say "the laws of physics are a restraint themselves" might suggest an exterior active force...
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: well if there are natures of law there is a natural restraint ;)
[13:45] CB Axel: Gravity restrains me from floating away.
[13:45] herman Bergson: Is a stone restrined to be a stone?
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: yes - for example
[13:46] herman Bergson: Matter just is...
[13:46] CB Axel: Only if the stone wants to become, say, a butterfly.
[13:46] herman Bergson: we have no idea where it came from...
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: well in Spinoza’s language a stone would want to be a stone anyway - strive to be that - without being pushed outside it would stay in itself
[13:46] herman Bergson: That is poetry and animism CB :-)
[13:46] CB Axel: Right, Ciska.
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:47] CB Axel: Yes. I'm the poet of this little group. °͜°
[13:47] Ms. Valentine (beloved.valencia) chuckles
[13:47] herman Bergson: I know CB :-)
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: yes which basically  means without a consciousness there are no decisions
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: to be something "else"
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: just to be then
[13:47] herman Bergson: indeed Ciska
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: so as usually the stress starts with consciousness ,)
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's enough to be:)
[13:48] Ms. Valentine (beloved.valencia): lol Ciska
[13:48] herman Bergson: True Ciska...:-)
[13:48] herman Bergson: It is almost as if I hear Sartre here....
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: and maybe with the fact that we do know really know if a stone has one ,)
[13:48] herman Bergson: we are condemned to consciousness
[13:49] herman Bergson: But it is exactly how Spinoza reasons too....
[13:49] CB Axel: Condemned to consciousness. Who's being poetic now. °͜°
[13:49] herman Bergson: This striving is not a psychological act....
[13:49] herman Bergson: it is just plain being in itself.....
[13:50] herman Bergson: but the consciousness of this striving...this being...
[13:50] herman Bergson: which makes it a wanting to be
[13:50] herman Bergson grins at CB
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:52] herman Bergson: So here we are....matter and consciousness
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well..thinking about it.....I need a vacation ^_^
[13:53] herman Bergson: To be more specific...
[13:53] herman Bergson: Tomorrow we will leave for Schiermonnikoog in RL and stay there for a week :-)
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aa nice
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Yay!
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: have fun
[13:53] herman Bergson: class next week....
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): love Schier
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes Beertje :-)
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): looked like a really nice place when i checked it out
[13:54] herman Bergson: Yes it is Bejiita...
[13:54] herman Bergson: no cars...900+ inhabitants ...
[13:54] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): silence:)
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:54] CB Axel: Sounds lovely!
[13:54] herman Bergson: and this time of the year hardly any tourists either....just the diehards :-)
[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): like you
[13:55] herman Bergson: indeed Beertje.....:-)
[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): can I carry your suitcase?
[13:55] CB Axel: Like Mackinac Island in the US. No cars.
[13:55] herman Bergson: and my wife ^_^
[13:55] herman Bergson: Good question Beertje :-))))
[13:56] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :) that means a yes?
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:56] herman Bergson grins
[13:56] herman Bergson: deserve a vacation too :-)
[13:56] CB Axel: You could be his valet.
[13:57] herman Bergson: So, thank you all again for your participation...
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:57] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:57] CB Axel: Thank you.
[13:57] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...:-))

Thursday, November 10, 2016

631: Spinoza's Psychology

Spinoza is a metaphysician. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. 
Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:
  1. [1] ”What is there?" and [2] "What is it like?"
A person who studies metaphysics is called a metaphysicist or a metaphysician..
Spinoza is a systematic philosopher and nowhere is his system more ambitious and under more strain 
than in his attempt to derive an account of human motivation, affects, and other mental states from his general metaphysics. 
This project of deriving psychology from metaphysics stems from Spinoza's guiding belief in naturalism about human beings.
In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world.  
Adherents of naturalism assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.
As we already have seen, Spinoza expresses his ideas about man very explicitly in the preface of part III of his Ethica (1677),
when he states that man is not “situated in nature as a kingdom within a kingdom” and 
that the psychology of man is not “some mysterious flaw in the nature of man” and
by saying that “nothing comes to pass in nature, which can be set down to a flaw therein; for nature is always the same, 
and everywhere one and the same in her efficacy and power of action; (…) so that there should be one and the same method 
of understanding the nature of all things whatsoever, namely, through nature's universal laws and rules.”
Spinoza thence assumes that there are natural laws and rules governing the psychological states of human beings.
and that these laws and rules are instances of more general laws and rules operative throughout nature.
So we have to find out what laws and rules of nature Spinoza had in mind, which would prove his naturalistic explanation of the origin and nature of the emotions.
“PROPOSITIO VI. Unaquaeque res, quantum in se est, in suo esse perseverare conatur.”
You may not understand this immediately, but proposition 6 is the heart of Spinoza’s psychology.
It means: “Each thing, insofar as it is in itself, strives to persevere in its being”. This must be such a law of nature, which Spinoza had in mind.
It sounds as a understandable statement. Someone might even read in it a Darwinian meaning.
However, here we run into some problems. Spinoza says “Each thing…”. He may mean living organisms, but “each” includes also stones and chairs, for instance.
So no Darwin avant la lettre? What does Spinoza mean with his Proposition 6? Did he actually have human nature in mind
or did he really mean the natures of everything, living and non-living things? And what about a suicidal person…?
Questions enough…., good for another lecture…thank you …^_^

The Discussion

[13:18] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:19] herman Bergson: This is just the start :-)
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:19] Alina Gabilondo: did studies notify that each thing as Spinoza said was expression those days??
[13:20] herman Bergson: Each thing strives to persevere in its being....
[13:20] Alina Gabilondo: strives to persevere
[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:20] Alina Gabilondo: exactly u type more fast
[13:21] Alina Gabilondo: so it is result of reflection - work of mind
[13:21] Ciska Riverstone: the question again is what is behind perseverance
[13:21] herman Bergson: the questionable issue is the meaning of "strives"
[13:21] Alina Gabilondo: and how you will define it??
[13:21] herman Bergson: If Spinoza had also stones and chairs in does a stone strive to persevere in being....
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: how does a chair persevere - or how do we know it does
[13:22] Alina Gabilondo: Spinoza did not mean chairs
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: it seems to boil down to a general consciousness
[13:22] herman Bergson: the point is....that this "strives" is not a psychological term in this context
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: (which others might call god again ;) )
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: what is it then?
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): does he mean how chemistry keeps molecules and thus matter together maybe
[13:23] herman Bergson: it  is equavalent to something like "tends to"
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): how matter stay together and why some things are stable and other things not
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): for example Acids and bases want to get neutral so they react cause they want to be like water wich is stable
[13:24] herman Bergson: I'll get back to it next time but Spinoza uses the word conatur.....
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): things like that
[13:24] herman Bergson: and he uses it in the same way Descartes , his tutor, more or less....uses it
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: as an abstract principle?
[13:25] Alina Gabilondo: hmmm i am losing thread
[13:25] herman Bergson: another  issue that needs to be explained is the expression "thing, insofar as it is in itself"
[13:26] Alina Gabilondo: isolated??
[13:26] herman Bergson: it actualla means...a thin NOT influenced by causes from outside....
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: the so-being - yes familiar buddhist concept ;)
[13:26] herman Bergson: so you could read proposition 6 like this
[13:27] herman Bergson: Each thing, insofar it is not influenced by external causes, tends to persevere in being....
[13:27] herman Bergson: for instance.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: a ball will roll on forever in a straight line as long as there are no external forces working on it
[13:28] Alina Gabilondo: newton here
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:28] herman Bergson: on the other hand....we may ask the question....
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: (each thing apart from the human being- that is  - I guess- when u look at the famous experiment with the kids who got nothing but food  and basic care and died)
[13:29] herman Bergson: was this really what Spinoza had in mind, or did he have especially yet human nature in mind when he formulated proposition 6
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm good question indeed
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: would it make sense if he had? and if so how?
[13:29] herman Bergson: we'll deal with that next Thursday :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: what experiment was that Ciska?
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: I forgot that king who gave that order
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: to bring up kids with no care but just changing the diapers and giving food
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: no attention else
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: no love
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: and they died
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: very famous
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: that experiment
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: (and inhuman seen from our perspective)
[13:32] herman Bergson: but here are external forces in action....
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ooww awful experiment :(
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: it was bejiita
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: there is food yes
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: but they obviously did not persevere
[13:33] herman Bergson: I think it is more a kind of a story.....
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: no it happened - I find it next time
[13:33] herman Bergson: not a scientific experiment
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: its historic
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: some king did that
[13:34] herman Bergson: ok :-)
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: long time ago
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: pretty famous that one
[13:34] herman Bergson: that is what I mean....
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: but names .. . and me
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: not working together ,)
[13:34] Alina Gabilondo: Spinoza definitely talk about human i think
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: bergie just told me
[13:34] Alina Gabilondo: if u said psychology word here
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: friedrich der zweite did that
[13:35] herman Bergson: Wan lebte diese Friedrich der Zweite?
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: here is an article
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: german
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: I try to find something in english
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: its mentioned there
[13:36] herman Bergson: not Germen is "perfekt"....ask Bergie ^_^
[13:36] Alina Gabilondo: but it is well known that kids from orphanage are different
[13:36] Alina Gabilondo: i saw it with my own eyes
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol er hatte mindenstes 13 frauen:)
[13:37] herman Bergson: Ahh ein Sammler :-))
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: it is mentioned there
[13:38] herman Bergson: But such  kids are exposed to external causes and are not a thing, insofar as it is in itself
[13:39] Alina Gabilondo: there is not example of isolated thing
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: well in friedrichs experiment
[13:39] Alina Gabilondo: we all live and all things are parts of system
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: they really were only exposed to food and basic body care
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: they died as babies
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: did not persevere
[13:40] bergfrau Apfelbaum: yes hermans german is perfekt.. :-))
[13:40] herman Bergson: ^_* Bergie
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well....We'll look into this issue next time and in the meantime I'll read  about this peculiar experiment
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: yes do so - in Germany it really is pretty famous
[13:41] herman Bergson: interesting....
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: for its cruelty of course :/
[13:42] herman Bergson: I guess so, yes...
[13:42] Alina Gabilondo: passion and emotions by Spinoza??
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: but it does have a point in terms of : is language material? ;)
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: ( when we argue with spinoza)
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: ( because communication was taken away from those babies)
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: (and interaction)
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): poor babies
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: its really an inhuman experiment
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: totally cruel.
[13:44] herman Bergson: Spinoza would language call a mode of being...
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: but it has obviously influence on the material
[13:45] herman Bergson: these babies were blocked from string to persevere in being....
[13:45] herman Bergson: striving...
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: well the material was there
[13:45] herman Bergson: pretty sad story....
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: food - basic health care
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but no love
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: it is
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: beerjte
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): love is very powerful
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): one needs love too
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: thats my point
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: when love is no material but a  mode of being how does that experiment fit to Spinoza?
[13:47] herman Bergson: Good issue to think about for the next class...
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:47] herman Bergson: I'll think about it Ciska :-))
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: good
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: hheheh
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's late I have to go
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: welerusten beertje
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: good night!
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu thursday then
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: oops
[13:48] herman Bergson: A good moment to dismiss Class....
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: welterusten
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): welterusten allemaal:)
[13:48] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje...
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: dankejwel
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: the end??
[13:49] herman Bergson: I  realize that CB isn’t here either.....
[13:49] herman Bergson: Election Day fever I guess
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: I bet
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: tough one
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm today is the day
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well know tomorrow.....
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well we will see how it goes
[13:50] Alina Gabilondo: thank you so much all
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bye for now
[13:50] Alina Gabilondo: good night!! :)))
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: have a good day / night everyone
[13:50] bergfrau Apfelbaum: good night:-) see you in 2 days

[13:50] herman Bergson: Bye and night :-)