Sunday, October 2, 2016

623: Spinoza, the atheist

What is the problem with dead philosophers? Just the fact, that they are dead and consequently unable to answer the question: What did you mean by saying…..
Especially when they use a high level of abstraction. And believe me, Spinoza did. The result is, 
that tons of scholars claim to know the correct interpretation of what Spinoza meant by saying this or that.
You know how it is with the Bible or Quran. People are even willing to murder each other to get their interpretation accepted.
Fortunately fights aren’t that serious about the interpretation of Spinoza’s ETHICA, but indirectly it comes close,
if you say that Spinoza is an atheist and you agree with Spinoza. But you will be spared, because they had found a mitigating solution.
Spinoza is not an atheist. They made him in fact the king of pantheism.
In Proposition 11 of chapter 1 of the ETHICA Spinoza states:
“God, or substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence, necessarily exists.”
Not God AND substance, but clearly God, OR (in other words) substance…..
Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860) already said: “Because Spinoza called his only substance  Deus (god), he created himself a special kind of difficulty. ‘”

According to Schopenhauer, he did so "to make his doctrine less offensive “. And Schopenhauer was right.
Words do two things. One, a word refers to an object it stands for and two, it creates all kinds of associations in our brain.
Take these two simple statements: “Ann is a girl” and “What a girl she is”. Twice the same four characters: G I R L
but you feel immediately that each statement creates its own specific thoughts and ideas in your mind.
Now, take the word  GOD.  Whatever it refers to, at least it brings so many connotations to your mind.
To make a small list of words that drift by….immaterial, spiritual, all-knowing, benevolent, creator and so on and so on….
Put yourself in Spinoza’s place in 1654. You always have been the smart ass and constant annoyance of the rabbis teaching your class.
You asked questions like “Why was that god of Israel such a mass murderer?” Then in 1656 you were banned from your community in a way never heard of before.
You are permanently surrounded by threats. Someone even tried to kill you with a knife. You sign your letters with the word CAUTE (Beware!)

So, it is surprising, that he tried to protect himself and at the same time not betray his deepest philosophical convictions?
Take the following propositions from ETHICA, chapter one:

14. There can be, or be conceived, no other substance but God.
 15.Whatever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived. 
17. God acts solely from the laws of his own nature, constrained by none.

You might conclude here that Spinoza was a deeply religious man, but he was far from that. And to get the proof……
Just replace the word GOD by the word MATTER and all makes immediately perfect sense and is 100% consistent with what Spinoza really meant to say.
Thence Spinoza was a declared materialist and atheist. However, there was and still is an almost insane fear for the factual observation, that there do not exist gods, not even one.
Why that is, we might discuss some other time, but that such a great and influential thinker like Spinoza would be an atheist….RED ALERT!
That can’t be! To save god from Spinoza’s atheism they promoted him to the founder of pantheism 
by emphasizing  all connotations of the word GOD in his work, which made it almost sound like theology.
Fortunately this abuse of his philosophy only happened after his death, but we still have to read this nonsense in Wikipedia:
“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.”
What Wiki forgets to tell you, I’ll tell you. Schopenhauer was right. Pantheism is still some kind of theism and Spinoza was definitely not a theist.
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

[13:26] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): So the definition of pantheism is to mask your real thoughts with another word for ex god really means matter, like a secret code to avoid being murdered
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i guess thats what Spinoza did in his writings
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he masked the word matter as god
[13:27] herman Bergson: At this moment pantheism is just some deit kind of relion...just check google for that
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Like Toland did Bejiita....
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not so sure
[13:28] K.T. Burnett (kayt): In other words, a closet atheist
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:28] CB Axel: But how do you know that when Spinoza wrote God in Ethica that he really meant matter?
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats how i define it
[13:28] herman Bergson: If you replace the word God with the word matter you just get a clear materialist metaphysics
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least from this
[13:28] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that is the question i was thinking cb
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): have to check it up a bit more
[13:28] CB Axel: Like you said, he's dead. and we can't ask him.
[13:28] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Thank you, Herman.  I agree that he and his followers had to be careful and couch his views in a politically correct way.  However, to call him an atheist, and not a pantheist, you will have to juggle words beyond their normal extension.  Spinoza proved the existence of one substance, infinite, self-created, no limits, and with self consciousness.  Seems reasonable to call that 'God,' and to see everything as an aspect of God.  And you can't substitute 'matter' for it.  Matter is limited, passive, its definition is outside of itself, and he'd view it as confusing a part with the whole.
[13:29] herman Bergson: Sorry Rhiannon....don't drop long texts in the discussion plz...thank you
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it could be some sort of hybrid too, like ok its no magic being but something else i can not explain for now making up all existing
[13:29] herman Bergson: He actually said so himself CB
[13:30] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): OK, i'll break it down.  Spinoza proved the existence of a substance that is non material and conscious.  Not matter.  God.
[13:30] CB Axel: Where?
[13:30] herman Bergson: At the moment God or substance....two words for the same thing....
[13:31] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Agree with that, herman.  And it wasn't the Judeo-Christian God, why he was considered a heretic.
[13:31] herman Bergson: To spinoza substance was material.....that is what he brought in against Descartes immaterial substance of the mind
[13:32] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): substance material
[13:32] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Substance was neither material nor immaterial.  It was the owner of the mental and the material--which were aspects of the infinite substance.
[13:32] herman Bergson: I'll get back to your question in the next lecture CB
[13:32] herman Bergson: Sorry  Rhiannon...that is just bogus metaphysics...
[13:33] CB Axel: I'm beginning to think that Spinoza was the first string theorist. °͜°
[13:33] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): And matter in Spinoza's time was extension, passive, its definition outside of itself.  Not substance, which is infinite and its definition is inside itself.
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ha
[13:33] herman Bergson: Spinoza was a materialist and his substance was matter
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): cb
[13:33] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): The bogus metaphysics of Spinoza.
[13:33] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it started somewhere
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:33] herman Bergson: In Spinoza's time extension meant matter...
[13:34] K.T. Burnett (kayt): Damn people, gotta run to a meeting
[13:34] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye kt
[13:34] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): herman, show how, given Spinoza's definition, and his idea of infinite substance, and his idea that even negation was a relation, that the infinite substance is matter?
[13:34] K.T. Burnett (kayt): thank you for the lecture, Herman :)
[13:34] herman Bergson: something taking space....and only matter can take space
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok KT
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bye then
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: CB for me Spinoza just looks like a meta thinker ;)
[13:34] CB Axel: Meta thinker?
[13:34] Anktii: He would have been operating with the understandings of world that were current to him. We understand so much more about physics, chemistry and the like now. I think yu have to view his writings through that lens but I wonder what he would have thought if he were alive today...
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed
[13:35] herman Bergson: Very true Anktii...
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): very true
[13:35] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): herman, that would be like saying, Herman is color, as he has color as an attribute.
[13:35] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): matter, or extension was an attribute of the One Substance.
[13:36] herman Bergson: In those days as Anktii correctly states people describes the physical world in the terms and concepts they were used to....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Substance , attributes, modes....
[13:36] herman Bergson: We don't do that anymore....
[13:37] herman Bergson: another problem is the concept of infinity and eternity they used....
[13:37] herman Bergson: I haven't the slightest idea what infinity really means....
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): never ending
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but its hard to grasp
[13:37] herman Bergson: ok..I know I have a finite will end one day
[13:38] herman Bergson: but understand it would go on for ever is beyond my understanding....
[13:38] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Hi Stranger
[13:38] herman Bergson: or you just treat it as some technical term
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: why' is that herman? especially from a standpoint of matter it does ?
[13:38] Stranger Nightfire: hello Rhi
[13:39] herman Bergson: so...infinity just means not finite....
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: u become dust and water and other kind of substances
[13:39] herman Bergson: Like they critisized Sartre about L’Etre et le Neant....
[13:39] herman Bergson: the not being....
[13:40] herman Bergson: just a negation of the verb to be
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): this is the never ending question and discussion
[13:40] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Sartre had a denotationalist view of language--'not' referred to 'nothingness.'
[13:40] herman Bergson: It is indeed Rhiannon :-)
[13:41] herman Bergson: The main problem is that we only have our brain as the tool to work with...
[13:41] herman Bergson: and it is a limited tool though a lot of philosophers think it is the ultimate tool
[13:42] herman Bergson: The main problem in philosophy is that we constantly run into our own limitations...
[13:42] herman Bergson: Like Clint Eastwood said...A man has to know his limitations,,,,,punk :-)
[13:42] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): That is a problem for understanding Spinoza.  He uses concepts that we don't use in ordinary life, or, if we do, in a different meaning.  Doesn't mean he's meaningless, but one suspects one is learning a technical language, rather than something about the world.
[13:43] herman Bergson: You could say that, yes...
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its different for sure
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): and that is what we are working on
[13:43] herman Bergson: But I think, a main reason for  his abstract level and language is that he tried to hide his plan materialism
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: its a language try to make relations like math does  - hence I see him as a meta thinker
[13:44] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Ciska, he certainly tried to imitate math.  His whole 'geometric' approach to things.
[13:44] herman Bergson: what is a meta thinker for you Ciska?
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: he wasn't interessted in explaining the world but the concept of the world
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: and on that basis for me (and for einstein ;) ) he  is a pantheist
[13:46] herman Bergson: I guess we disagree here Ciska ^_^
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: yes we do
[13:46] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): He isn't a pantheist the way a Hindu might be, who sees human consciousness as an expression of God consciousness.
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: heheh
[13:46] herman Bergson: as may be on your interpretation of Einstein’s words on several occasions :-)
[13:46] herman Bergson: The Hindu is a theist
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: quote einstein: "Your question is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. "
[13:47] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Right, herman.  I'm conceding that maybe 'God' is used in a special sense in Spinoza, but it still remains that the One Substance is infinite and thinking, and we are aspects of it.  So 'pantheism' isn't just a phonied up euphemism.
[13:48] Second Life: Ciska Riverstone gave you Einstein on spinoza.
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): perhaps we will understand his terms better as we move along
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed there are much to find out about this guy I thnk
[13:49] herman Bergson: My point is that Spinoza never is talking about a god with all the historical and cultural connotations that come with that word....and inconsistent with his philosophy.where he uses the word god he could have used the word matter...and all discussion would be over
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: no - because matter does not take decisions.
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he used the word god simply to protect himself from the church and an educated reader would find out he really meant matted
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): matter
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): god was just a secret code word
[13:50] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Not really, as given what he says, we'd end up with a hylozoistic view of matter.
[13:50] CB Axel: But he did use the word god. Sure, he could have used that to cover up his atheism, but I don't see any proof that that's what he was doing.
[13:50] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Matte that thinks, that is every where, that is timeless.
[13:51] herman Bergson: I guess there never will be any proof Ciska...
[13:51] Ciska Riverstone: he used it as a concept cb - thats how I understand it
[13:51] herman Bergson: and the essence of matter is that it takes has extension
[13:51] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:52] herman Bergson: Sorry...was your remark CB :-)
[13:52] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): But that's not how Spinoza would expression it.  He would say, the One Substance has extension, is material.  It would always be a predication of it, not a substance.
[13:52] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): *express it, even
[13:53] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Ditto.  The Mind.
[13:53] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): The One Subtance has a mind, is mental.
[13:53] herman Bergson: Teh proof that he was covering up his materialism an atheism can be deduced from his very own statements tho
[13:53] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:54] herman Bergson: extension and substance are almost synonymous
[13:54] herman Bergson: there is no substance without extension and no extension without substance
[13:55] herman Bergson: they didnt know how to express them otherwise in those days
[13:55] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): But it is still a category mistake to equate the two.
[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:55] herman Bergson: now we have our nuclear physics.....tell everyone that Democritus was right :-))
[13:55] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): herman, would you consider Swedenborg an atheist?  He thought all minds have to have bodies, and God's body was the universe.
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): atoms, leptons, hadrons, gravity, eectromagnetic radiation
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): they did not have any of that at that time
[13:56] Anktii: Interesting discussion but I need to be elsewhere. Take care all
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): any knowledge of such things
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it is time
[13:56] herman Bergson: That is poetry rhiannon
[13:56] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): bye, Anktii
[13:56] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): see you soon
[13:56] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bye ANktii
[13:56] herman Bergson: Quite some discussion today,,....
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed nice
[13:57] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): bye Anktii
[13:57] herman Bergson: Don'tthink it is wise to go on for ever....
[13:57] ϻг. Γλπdσϻ (jamar.elton): have a good rest of the day everyone.
[13:57] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:57] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:57] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Perhaps, herman,  Perhaps.  But some philosophers (like Nietzsche and the later Carnap,) thought all theology and metaphysics, all philosophy is poetry.
[13:57] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:57] herman Bergson: Let's take it to the next class :-)
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa cu then
[13:57] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Good discussion, herman.
[13:57] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:57] Alina Gabilondo: thanks and good night for all!!
[13:57] CB Axel: OK. See you on Thursday. °͜°
[13:57] Rhiannon Oset (rhiannon.dragoone): Take care, everyone.
[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:57] herman Bergson: Thank you all !
[13:57] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): hope to make it tuesday
[13:57] Alina Gabilondo: :))
[13:57] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): will see
[13:57] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....^_^
[13:58] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye all
[13:58] Alina Gabilondo: byee all
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: take care everyone
[13:58] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I have to go, thank you Herman, have a goodnight all
[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bye all
[13:58] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): you too beertje

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