Sunday, October 2, 2016

622: Is Spinoza a pantheist....?

While wading through all kinds of texts and information in preparation for this lecture, I eventually ran into a Mister John Toland, born November 1670. He died in 1722. He was an Irish rationalist and freethinker.
In 1690, at age 19, the University of Edinburgh conferred a master's degree on him. He then got a scholarship to spend two years studying at University of Leiden in Holland, ….
What is so special about him in relation to Spinoza? 
The chain of events was like this. I simply assumed, that Spinoza is a materialist and consequently someone who did not assume the existence of more than matter.
An other way to say it is, that Spinoza was an atheist, although I dislike this word very much, because it is a misleading term, but about that maybe later.
Thus Spinoza materialist and atheist. To my astonishment, however, I ran into texts, which called Spinoza a pantheist. What in the world is  a pantheist and where did that qualification came from?
WIKIPEDIA : Pantheism is the belief that all of reality is identical with divinity,  or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god. 
Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god. 
In the West, pantheism was formalized as a separate theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza  
whose book Ethics was an answer to Descartes' famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. 
Although the term pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as its most celebrated advocate. His work, “Ethics” was the major source from which Western pantheism spread. -END W-
I’ll ignore this almost deist description of pantheism and comment only on what is said about Spinoza.
To begin with. Spinoza wasn’t the most celebrated advocate of pantheism in his days at all. 
It is because of a complete misinterpretation by others, that they later have begun to use him for their pantheist theology.
Furthermore,  the term pantheism did not exist in Spinoza’s time. And here appears John Toland  on stage. He was 7 when Spinoza died.
He was a remarkable man. In his early 20s he spent two years in Leiden, where he definitely has studied the works of Spinoza.
In his first book “Christianity not Mysterious” (1696), he argued that the divine revelation of the Bible contains no true mysteries; 
rather, all the dogmas of the faith can be understood and demonstrated by properly trained reason from natural principles.
Had he then been in Dublin he definitely would have been executed because of this book. Instead three copies of his book were publicly “executed”, that is, burned.
After Christianity Not Mysterious, Toland's views became gradually more radical. His opposition to hierarchy in the church also led to opposition to hierarchy in the state; 
bishops and kings, in other words, were as bad as each other, and monarchy had no God-given sanction as a form of government. 
Poland used the term pantheism for the first time in a publication in 1704 and it is said, that he used the term to describe the philosophy of Spinoza.
Let’s have a closer look at the historical situation. In the period 1650 -1750 people discovered that describing and explaining  physical phenomena 
using mathematics, were more effective and enlightening than using biblical and theological explanations.
Toland was exemplary as a representative of this new insights. Like Spinoza he wrote political treatises in which he argued against the theological justification of the power of the state.
What was impossible in those days and even life threatening, was to openly state atheist ideas  and philosophy .
I think that David Berman in his article”Disclaimers in Blount and Toland", in “Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment”, (Oxford, 1992) is right,
in claiming that Toland deliberately obscured his real atheism so as to avoid prosecution whilst attempting to subliminally influence unknowing readers.
Except a commentary on Descartes’ philosophy, Spinoza thereafter never dared to publish a book under his own name
and he had the same reasons for doing so as John Toland.
We’ll elaborate some more on this issue in the next lecture…Thank you ^_^

The Discussion

[13:30] CB Axel: Do you think these men helped to bring about modern democracy?
[13:31] herman Bergson: I think so, yes....
[13:31] herman Bergson: One important step was the separation of the State and the Church
[13:31] Alina Gabilondo: no doubts
[13:31] CB Axel nods
[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:32] herman Bergson: And in those days the belief in the god-given power and authority to king by god was fading
[13:32] CB Axel: So it wasn't just Spinoza and Toland who thought that. Interesting.
[13:33] herman Bergson: This Toland wrote dozens of pamphlets and books against this politics dominated by religion
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): could he do that here in the Netherlands ?
[13:33] herman Bergson: No it was what you could call the "Zeitgeist" :-)
[13:34] herman Bergson: The standard tactics in those days was threatening the author and on the other hand completely ignore him
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): religion and politics is no good combination for sure
[13:35] Roger Amdahl: religion dictating politics is even worse I think
[13:35] CB Axel: Yes. They need to be completely separate.
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:35] Alina Gabilondo: heee
[13:35] Alina Gabilondo: :)))
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well  you see it happen in Western Europe....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Since the church lost its grip on politics its power is rapidly declining
[13:36] herman Bergson: While in Islamic countries they don't even understand such a separation of powers...
[13:37] herman Bergson: With all consequences we see today
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): very true and look how this plays out, not good at all
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): they still live like on mid ages
[13:37] Joseph Bard (science24): they don't represent the true Islam
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: well don't forget to mention the substitute religion which is neoliberalism
[13:37] herman Bergson: That statement is another motivation to start a war Joseph...
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed i don’t think the true islam is bad but misinterpretation after misinterpretation have had devastating effects
[13:38] herman Bergson: for WHO knows the true Islam....
[13:38] Joseph Bard (science24): I am not into that Herman :)
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but I’m not a religions expert of any kind
[13:38] Roger Amdahl: The USA has a separation between Religion and politics in the Grondwet ( eng ??)  ,  but it is still a very religious part of the world
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well the cahtolics have atleast ONE person who tells waht the true religion is...the pope...:-)
[13:38] herman Bergson: Constitution, Roger
[13:39] CB Axel: I believe that people should vote their according to their beliefs. But at what point do their beliefs start to intrude on the lives of those who believe differently?
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:39] Roger Amdahl: pfff  that same pope also states that AIDS is a very bad disease,  but using condoms is more bad,  can't take that man serious
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well CB, when you read Dawkins "The god Delusion" you get your answer
[13:40] Roger Amdahl: Oww,  Dawkins, Christopher Hitchinson are my favorites
[13:40] herman Bergson: Taking religious leaders serious is something else  Roger ^_^
[13:41] herman Bergson: But getting back to Spinoza......claiming that he is the godfather of pantheism......what a misconception
[13:41] CB Axel: Roger, there is another way to prevent AIDS than using condoms that the Catholic church would be ok with. Abstinence.
[13:42] herman Bergson: Especially at the end of the 19th century they made him the man of pantheism....
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sex for pleasure is for some reason a terrible thing in most religions
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): did no one argue against that?
[13:42] Roger Amdahl: Yes CB  .. just ignore natural needs,  the origin off most life (sex) .. is that smart to propagate ?
[13:43] Alina Gabilondo: did Spinoza personally claimed what is his confession??
[13:43] Alina Gabilondo: claim*
[13:43] herman Bergson: He had no confession Alina....
[13:44] CB Axel: Didn't Spinoza say something about God being in everything?
[13:44] Alina Gabilondo: he was later interpret as pantheist
[13:44] herman Bergson: He used the word 'god', yes...
[13:44] Alina Gabilondo: cannot be
[13:44] CB Axel: I seem to remember that he said god is the natural world.
[13:44] Alina Gabilondo: if he reflected about God
[13:44] herman Bergson: He shouldn’t have done that but in his days he AHD to if he wanted to stay alive
[13:44] Alina Gabilondo: what ever he meant
[13:46] herman Bergson: But pantheism isn't welcomed by the Catholic church....for them it still is a kind of atheism
[13:46] Alina Gabilondo: then may be nothing wrong if he was considered pantheist
[13:46] Alina Gabilondo: logically
[13:46] herman Bergson: that depends.....
[13:46] Alina Gabilondo: later
[13:46] Alina Gabilondo: who studied his works with attention
[13:46] herman Bergson: the word THEISM is culturally too loaded with all kinds of religious connotations
[13:47] CB Axel: In America at that time, Spinoza may have been burned as a witch.
[13:47] herman Bergson: and panTHEISM drags that load with  it...
[13:47] Alina Gabilondo: like there is a God but we do not name him??
[13:47] herman Bergson: Something like that.....
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:48] herman Bergson: just read what wikipedia writes under Pantheism....a horrible text....
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: but this is the best way to manipulate
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: with meanings
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: i read today too
[13:48] herman Bergson: indeed Alina.....that is why I dislike the word atheist so much...
[13:49] Alina Gabilondo: when i saw your subject about class
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): did every one agree in those days, to call Spinoza a pantheist?
[13:49] Alina Gabilondo: atheist deny god
[13:49] herman Bergson: None did, Beertje....
[13:49] Alina Gabilondo: but deny something u agree with its existence??
[13:49] herman Bergson: only after his death he was labeled with that word
[13:49] Alina Gabilondo: u cannot deny nothing
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but there must be a man or woman, who said, hey wait a minute?
[13:50] CB Axel: So I cannot deny unicorns?
[13:50] herman Bergson: That is an old debate Alina
[13:50] herman Bergson: But it is based on a fallacy....
[13:50] Alina Gabilondo: heheeh humanity always talk the same
[13:51] herman Bergson: Such statements use the word "exist" like a property word similar to calling something e.g. "red"
[13:51] herman Bergson: But to say that something exists is not equivalent to saying something is red
[13:52] Alina Gabilondo: i did not get your point, sorry
[13:52] herman Bergson: for to be red a thing first has to exist.... which makes existence quite something different from any ordinary property
[13:52] Alina Gabilondo: right
[13:53] herman Bergson: We'll discuss it later sometime Alina :((
[13:53] Roger Amdahl: There is no prove in favour or against any God,  hence it's called 'believing'
[13:53] Alina Gabilondo: ok i will say
[13:53] herman Bergson: First of all we have to ask the question where does the word 'god' ever come from....
[13:54] herman Bergson: Who invented it and for what reason and to what purpose?
[13:54] Alina Gabilondo: in different languages
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats a go(o)d question indeed
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[13:55] herman Bergson: But that is quite another discussion too, Bejiita ^_^
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:55] herman Bergson: I'll save that for some other time :-)
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[13:55] Roger Amdahl: Ancient fear and not knowing why things occured  made people think there was a higher power
[13:55] Roger Amdahl: and the word God ??  does it matter ??
[13:55] herman Bergson: I'd say it in a different way Roger....
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): God is only the english word for it
[13:56] herman Bergson: What people seems to be unable to stand is the simple observation I DO NOT KNOW
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: god is a placeholder - just like ufo is
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:56] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): dutch too
[13:56] herman Bergson: we have some weird drive to believe that there is an answer to every question....
[13:56] Alina Gabilondo: ohhh no :))))
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but Swedish is almist same
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we say gud
[13:57] Alina Gabilondo: the more i know the less i can answer
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): almost
[13:57] Alina Gabilondo: :)))
[13:57] Alina Gabilondo: paradox
[13:57] herman Bergson: and that drive causes man to jump to conclusions based on I DO NOT KNOW
[13:57] Roger Amdahl: Looking for those answers brought us science
[13:57] Ciska Riverstone: well even when we do not know we must take decisions
[13:57] herman Bergson: Sokrates said as his final conclusion : I KNOW THAT I DO NOT KNOW
[13:57] Ciska Riverstone: thats a fact
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: because life throws something on us
[13:58] herman Bergson: indeed Ciska
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: like for example weather
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: so we use a blackbox
[13:58] Alina Gabilondo: i do not know too
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: called god for example
[13:58] CB Axel: How did we get from using a god or gods to explain natural phenomena to using science instead?
[13:58] Alina Gabilondo: all life study and die like fool
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: to explain why it rains until we know better
[13:58] CB Axel: Why was God not able to answer those questions any more?
[13:59] Alina Gabilondo: i think it is too simple about rain
[13:59] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): because god never have given anyone answers except from someone dreaming something about it
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: and the church used the blackbox god to organize society structures in the past which made industrialization possible
[13:59] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): something which don’t exist cant answer simple
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: just as an example
[14:00] herman Bergson: Well...I guess we'd better come to a conclusion of this discussion :-)
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and some people might realize that and start lookig for other ways to find answers and voila science was created
[14:00] herman Bergson: For this debate is already going on for centuries and we might continue likewise :-)
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): eheheh
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): as it should be
[14:00] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[14:01] herman Bergson: So let's focus on the so called pantheism of Spinoza next time and come to some conclusion there :-)
[14:01] herman Bergson: May I thank you all for your participation again :-)
[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): good idea
[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[14:01] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu thursday then
[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[14:02] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I have to go, have a goodnight:)
[14:02] Alina Gabilondo: thanks u so much!!!
[1[14:02] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bye all
[14:02] Roger Amdahl: Thanks Herman,  see you next time
[14:02] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ㋡
[14:02] Ciska Riverstone: bye everyone
[14:02] Alina Gabilondo whispers: byee good night!!! :)
[14:02] herman Bergson: leaves us with one question.....:-)
[14:02] herman Bergson: Who created Ciska today ? :-))
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Thank you herman & class!!
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: and amen! spinoza
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: lol
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[14:03] herman Bergson: My pleasure, bergie ^_^

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