Wednesday, September 7, 2016

616: Spinoza, the person......

When we talk about great scientists or great philosophers, we always are talking about their achievements or thoughts.
In fact we actually ignore the human being, the person in this context completely. To some extend this makes sense of course.
Take for instance, Albert Einstein. His theories were a revolution in physics. Rumours tell, however, 

that as a person, he wasn’t really nice, but  how does that relate to his ideas about physics…Not at all of course.

But when it concerns philosophy, it is a somewhat different situation. There is a close relation between the person and how he thinks about e.g. metaphysics or ethics.

This makes the person of Spinoza so interesting, for due to his philosophical ideas he had to endure a lot and on the other hand also chose for a certain lifestyle.

What kind of person was this Spinoza? One the one hand he seems to have been a rather solitaire person. 

On the other hand he yet had a circle of intellectual friends around him, all men. We know at least, that he never was married.

Makes me wonder, by the way, were guys like Descartes or Leibniz or Locke ever married….just a thought ^_^

Anyway, Spinoza’s philosophical ideas had a great impact on how his life developed. To begin with he was a gifted child and a smart student.

 Spinoza was born in 1632 into the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam in the same year Galileo published his “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”.

In 1656, when he was twenty-three, the synagogue expelled him for what the sentence of excommunication described as “abominable heresies” and “monstrous deeds.”

So we have to account for 23 years of personal development of which we have no real information. But in these 23 years Spinoza must have developed a strong mind of his own.

For a long time historians did not know exactly what heresies he was accused of. 

But in the mid-twentieth century, research in the archives of the Inquisition disclosed a report from a Spanish priest who had spent several months in Amsterdam. 

His report revealed that the main doctrinal charges against Spinoza were: 

(1) that he held that God exists “only philosophically”; 

(2) that he maintained that the soul dies with the body; and 

(3) that he denied that the law of Moses was a true law. 

The “monstrous deeds” probably included his unrepentant resistance to authority when threatened with excommunication.

Spinoza was then only 23. What has happened to him in those past 23 years, that his philosophy conflicted so much with the tradition in which he was educated.

It is speculation, but try to imagine the intellectual world Spinoza lived in. What we today regard as common knowledge must have been revolutionary for him.

The whole worldview was put upside down by Galileo Galilei. Man no longer was the center  of the universe.

Imagine you are a 16 year old boy. You have an extremely bright mind and you have strong opinions of your own.

And then there is a Descartes, who teaches you to doubt everything to finally reach the conclusion, that the only absolute certainty there is, is you yourself, because you think.

Empirical science emerges stimulated by an innovative combination of experiment and mathematics.

For us this is common knowledge, but for a gifted, smart and intellectual young boy around 1650 this must have been sensational and exciting new insights.

Equally exciting must have been to witness, that the dogmatic religions tried to mute this new development of human knowledge and failed.

It may have been a feeling of looking at exciting new vistas, the unwillingness  to give them up in favour of obsolete dogmatic religious ideas,

which made Spinoza the philosopher he eventually became, a man who signed his letters with the word “Caute”, which means “Beware”.

Thank you for your attention….the floors is all yours ^_^

The discussion

[13:19] CB Axel: What was he warning his readers to beware of? The new ideas or how having the new ideas be punished?
[13:20] herman Bergson: He hardly published anything during his lifetime....most was postume....
[13:20] CB Axel: Hmmm. Why was that?
[13:20] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): in those days it was not done to think for oneselves
[13:20] herman Bergson: I guess he knew he couldn't fight the establishment of theologians of his time
[13:20] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i bet
[13:21] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Tragic
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): what did he do for a living ??
[13:21] herman Bergson: Spinoza definitely knew that if he published his ideas he would be rposecuted...
[13:21] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): he made glasses for lenzes
[13:21] herman Bergson: Spinoza grinded lenses, Gemma....
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:21] herman Bergson: for telescopes and microscopes
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ahha
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:21] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): he maybe died of the dust of the glas
[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): so understood the huge and the tiny
[13:22] herman Bergson: And I guess he also did some teaching
[13:22] herman Bergson: yes indeed Beertje....
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): wonders what his father did when he was expelled from the synagogue
[13:22] CB Axel: What a shame that he had all these great ideas but couldn't safely discuss them.
[13:23] herman Bergson: It was generally assumed he died of tuberculosis, but today they think he died of inhaling that dust of glass all the time
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ahha
[13:23] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): I have islamic scientists in the exact same position in SC, CB
[13:23] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): he must have been very loneley
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaaw
[13:23] CB Axel: I wonder if he had friends he could share with.
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hope so
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think he did
[13:24] herman Bergson: No Spinaza wasn't lonely at all....he had a vivid social life
[13:24] CB Axel: Chantal, there are people in the US who can't discuss science with "Christians."
[13:24] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i mean lonely in his thoughts
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not all cb
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): certain elements
[13:24] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): yes religion seems to have issues with people thinking for themselves or even critically
[13:24] herman Bergson: He had a number of friends CB....intellectuals
[13:25] CB Axel: I make a distinction between Christians and "Christians."
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i saw
[13:25] Chantal (nymf.hathaway):
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): some others might not understand that tho
[13:25] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ? CB
[13:25] herman Bergson: Lonely in his thoughts....interesting point Beertje....
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): there are certain churches that still believe the world was created in 7 days
[13:26] herman Bergson: The main point is that Spinoza was an atheist (htough I do not like the word)
[13:26] CB Axel: Christians celebrate the intellect their god gave them and aren't afraid to use it.
[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and that earth is flat
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:26] CB Axel: "Christians" don't think for themselves and condemn those who do.
[13:26] CB Axel: What is wrong with the word atheist?
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): again cannot argue with firm strong faith
[13:26] herman Bergson: The modernety of Spinoza is thta we still do not know how to understand atheism
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): impossible
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): atheism = belief in science and fact, not things you have really not seen like gods and magic
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats how i define it
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): when I see I believe
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): not before
[13:28] herman Bergson: ok..hold on....
[13:28] herman Bergson: CB asked: What is wrong with the word atheist?
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): to many it is frightening
[13:28] herman Bergson: The point is that the normal human condition is that you just exist.....
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:29] herman Bergson: the Cartesian Cogito...
[13:29] herman Bergson: The Darwinian evolution....
[13:29] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Bejiita: according to wiki: Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities.
[13:29] herman Bergson: there is nothing in his existence which indicates the existence of anybody/anything beyond his self consciousness....
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sounds also correct definition
[13:30] herman Bergson: so in fact there not a single reason to believe in more than yourself....
[13:30] herman Bergson: however.....
[13:30] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): if there is a a-theist, there must be a theist too?
[13:31] herman Bergson: we have questions.....and we want answers...also to questions which we cannot find an answer to
[13:31] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Beertje: Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists [Wiki]
[13:31] herman Bergson: and in the psychology of the human mind we go through an animistic phase when we are about 4 years old....
[13:32] CB Axel: I'm still in that phase. lol
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Chantal:)
[13:32] herman Bergson: we believe in elves, that animals can talk, Santa...and so on...
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I still believe in elves, and in Sinterklaas ( en zwarte Piet )
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:33] herman Bergson: and this tendency of the human create answers to questions of which they just have to say WE DO NOT KNOW still exists.....thence leading to all kinds of transcendent answers...which we call religions....
[13:34] CB Axel: I believe my computer thinks for itself and is trying to drive me insane.
[13:34] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Hello Somnus
[13:34] herman Bergson: The human being wants answer to the meaning of his life....WHY do I exist....
[13:34] CB Axel: Hello, Somnus.
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hi Somnus
[13:34] CB Axel: I would like to know those things.
[13:34] Somnus Doctorow: greetings all sorry to be late
[13:35] CB Axel: But I don't think there is any meaning or reason to exist.
[13:35] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): I am with you, CB
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes CB....and we just have no answer....
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:35] herman Bergson: Our selfconsciousness is just a product of evolution......
[13:35] CB Axel: Well, I also just this minute found out that and SL friend of mine died suddenly and unexpectedly.
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): oh dear
[13:36] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): oh CB :(
[13:36] herman Bergson: so...all of a sudden there we were and became conscious of the fact that we exist....
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): so I'm Sorry!
[13:36] herman Bergson: that is all....
[13:36] Somnus Doctorow: sorry to hear
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is always a shock
[13:36] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Huggles you
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaaaaw :(
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Hugs CB
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): that was sad to  hear
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): :(
[13:37] herman Bergson: A sad thing I lost my best SL friend Pearl...
[13:38] CB Axel nods
[13:38] herman Bergson: But you say CB: But I don't think there is any meaning or reason to exist.
[13:38] herman Bergson: Spinoza would disagree with you here
[13:39] herman Bergson: as you do yourself actually ^_^
[13:39] CB Axel: Do i?
[13:39] herman Bergson: The essence of our existence as an organism is that we want to preserve our existence…even reproduce....
[13:39] herman Bergson: It is just built into the system....
[13:40] herman Bergson: Like darwin observed too...
[13:40] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): but for the human personally that isn't the answer
[13:40] herman Bergson: So you do not jump now from a skyscraper CB....
[13:41] CB Axel: That would hurt too much.
[13:41] herman Bergson: simple because it is counter intuitive in relation to being a living organism
[13:41] CB Axel: I'm not against dying. I just don't want to be in pain or make a mess.
[13:42] herman Bergson: For all living organisms onthis earth this isn't an issue at all.....except for us with our knwledge of the fact that we exist
[13:42] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is the problem
[13:42] herman Bergson: that isjust about the way you could die CB....
[13:43] CB Axel: So what else is there? Death happens.
[13:43] herman Bergson: Liek we have a mind, we have like all living organisms on this planet a will to live...
[13:43] herman Bergson: and we try to avoid pain and enjoy pleasure....
[13:44] herman Bergson: And on top of that we have something we call culture.....and thence religions....
[13:44] herman Bergson: all together a rather complex picture ^_^
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:45] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that we are
[13:45] herman Bergson: And Spinoza was a man who understood this picture and the consequences of it.....
[13:46] Somnus Doctorow: but are all these things truly needed for survival?
[13:46] herman Bergson: This makes his ideas still valuable
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it will be very interesting
[13:46] Somnus Doctorow whispers: species survival?
[13:46] herman Bergson: Not a single primate has a culture Somnus..:-)
[13:47] Somnus Doctorow: but is culture necessary?
[13:47] herman Bergson: only we have as the result of that specific twist of evolution that gave us self-consciousness
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): wow
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): life would be boring otherwise i think
[13:47] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): I would think humans cant avoid it
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but culture is so much
[13:47] CB Axel: Culture is necessary to maintain civilisation. It's bonding.
[13:48] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita...that makes me think of something.....
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:48] herman Bergson: I often wondered why we have art....
[13:48] Somnus Doctorow: some say self consciousness is not necessary to survive, i have even read opinions that say its all about continuing the next generation of DNA
[13:48] Somnus Doctorow: that DNA is immortal the rest is superfluous
[13:48] herman Bergson: and I concluded that it is to stimulate our nervoussystem challenge it.....we need that..biologically
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): why we have art, because we are creative I guess, its same as with these computer games i design and program, thats my art
[13:49] herman Bergson: I think you are right Somnus....
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I want to create something from my mind
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and store it permanently as an idea
[13:49] Somnus Doctorow: listens
[13:49] herman Bergson: ants exists already for millions of years...not a single one ever discovered the Cogito, ergo sum :-)
[13:50] CB Axel whispers: You don't know that. LOL
[13:50] herman Bergson grins
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed, these early cave paintings are from beginnng of man
[13:50] CB Axel: The just haven't mentioned it to you.
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): are you sure ?? sometimes i wonder yes cb
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we have always created soem form of art I think
[13:51] herman Bergson: yes stimulate the senses....we need that...
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:51] herman Bergson: deprive a man from external stimuli and he goes mad
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it goes i think from that time to me having a crazy dream and when i get up i draw and program it into one of my games, same thing only my way is more advanced
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but same idea I think
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its a basic drive for us to do
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): to be creative
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): same goes for tools
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and machines
[13:52] herman Bergson: yes
[13:52] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well i hope to be here thursday
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): for more about spinoza
[13:53] herman Bergson: Good plan Gemma ^_^
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:53] Chantal (nymf.hathaway): Thank you, Herman
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa this is starting good I think
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:53] herman Bergson: Then I'll save the rest fro Thursday :-)
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): looking forward to that
[13:54] herman Bergson: So thank you all again for this inspiring discussion....
[13:54] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:54] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ..... ^_^

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