Tuesday, October 11, 2016

624: On the Origin and Nature of the Mind

Last Tuesday we saw that in the first part of the Ethica, named De Deo (Concerning god), Spinoza tries to define being in the most abstract way.
He concludes that there exists only one substance, of which everything else is just a manifestation,  an attribute, he called it. The only thing he can say about  this substance is, that IT IS….
No idea where it came from, nor where it will end. So the substance exists and is infinite. We would say, there is only matter.
But Spinoza adds god to his vocabulary, say that substance = god, god = substance. In my opinion, he had to do this only because of political correctness.
Spinoza lived in the world of Cartesian metaphysics and thence had to solve a problem. Descartes had given the mind in a separate substance of its own.
That was inconsistent with Spinoza’s philosophy, for he assumed that there could exist only ONE substance, from which everything originated.
So, our next question is, how does Spinoza explain the existence of the mind, the Cartesian “Cogito…”
The Ethica consists of 5 parts with the titles: [-1-] Concerning God, [-2-] Of the Nature and Origin of the Mind,
[-3-] On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions, [-4-] Of Human Bondage or the Strength of the Emotions and [-5-] On the Power of the Understanding, or of Human Freedom.
The answer to our question has to be found in part two then. The first sentence is: 
“I now pass on to explaining the results, which must necessarily follow from the essence of God, or of the eternal and infinite being….”
Typically Spinoza, the “God, or……” In Latin he uses the word “sive” for “or” and indeed used in that way it means “or rather…” God is just another word for infinite being or substance.
Definition Two in Part Two of Ethica is really interesting. Don’t get confused. Just read it two or three times if necessary. Its meaning is quintessential.
“II. I consider as belonging to the essence of a thing that, which being given, the thing is necessarily given also, 
and, which being removed, the thing is necessarily removed also; in other words, that without which the thing, and which itself without the thing, can neither be nor be conceived.”
What Spinoza says here could be translated into “no (human) body without a mind and no mind without a (human) body”
In other words, no cartesian dualism, no separate mind substance and body substance.
Spinoza, of course, is not a substance dualist. Not only is the human being not a substance in its own right, but its constituent parts ,  the mind and the body,  are not substances either. 
There is only one substance, God or Nature, and thus the human mind and the human body must, like  all bodies, be only modes of the attributes of this substance.
Let’s recall two definitions from Part One:” IV. BY ATTRIBUTE, I mean that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of substance.”

“V. BY MODE, I mean the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.”
You could interpret this as, that being a human is an attribute of substance (or god or nature) and the mind is a mode of this attribuut, consisting on something other than itself.
And here the trouble starts. There are different opinions about what Spinoza means to say about the relation between mind and matter.
The most extreme: was Spinoza a kind of animist or panpsychist about nature, believing that all things are living and thinking beings with minds like the human mind?
At least  you can say that Spinoza was a materialist and saw the mind as one of the manifestations of matter.

Whether we can or can not have a serious conversation with a tree depends on your interpretation of Spinoza’s ideas. I leave up to you.
Thank you…^_^

The Discussion

[13:21] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): well we can see the tree and feel part of it and it part of us i guess
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:21] CB Axel: That was my question. If everything is made by the same substance, what makes everything different?
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): takes thinking
[13:22] CB Axel: What makes the substance that makes me me?
[13:22] CB Axel: As opposed to a tree.
[13:22] herman Bergson: The answer is quite simple CB....
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): each blade of grass
[13:22] CB Axel: Although, I'm feeling like a tree trying to understand all this. °͜°
[13:22] Alina Gabilondo: the set of atoms
[13:22] Arianne (ariannejp): I'm a Buddhist, I know we believe everything in the world has their spirit
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we are all made of different basic elements
[13:22] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): each atom yes
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but the concept of elements was unknown at that time
[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): periodic table
[13:22] herman Bergson: in our language...everything consists of molecules...or atoms of you like
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): one thing
[13:23] herman Bergson: what makes you and me different?
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i disagree that Spinoza did not mean to say the word god
[13:23] Arianne (ariannejp): mind , education
[13:23] herman Bergson: Just the configuration of our molecules :-)
[13:23] CB Axel: OK. I have to go back to thinking of string theory, I guess.
[13:23] Alina Gabilondo: and spirit as mentality
[13:23] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): from his upbringing he can change his mind about the god of his parents and education
[13:24] herman Bergson: Spinoza did want to use the word god, gemma....
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): but i think he still meant a god or infinite being
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): not sure about that he had to use a term that others would understand somehow
[13:24] herman Bergson: Bu the did not mean a supernatural being...let alone a personal god
[13:24] CB Axel: Yes, Gemma, but that infinite being is the substance that makes everything.
[13:24] CB Axel: Right?
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:24] CB Axel: In a way?
[13:24] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think
[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:25] herman Bergson: he was a clear cut materialist....
[13:25] herman Bergson: but saying that out loud would have cost him his life...
[13:25] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yep
[13:25] herman Bergson: his friend Koernbag...if I spell the name correctly was arrested for saying it....
[13:26] herman Bergson: and died in prison...
[13:26] CB Axel: Just implying it almost cost him his life.
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): was that before he left Amsterdam or after
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:26] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i think i had better read more about him
[13:26] herman Bergson: I see Spinoza as a normal human being with his intellect but also with his fears...
[13:26] Arianne (ariannejp): was he away from religion?
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): free speech was unknown at that time
[13:27] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): anywhere
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Arianne...
[13:27] CB Axel: Very real fears, I'd say.
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes indeed CB.....
[13:28] herman Bergson: In Part 2 of the ethica he uses the word god in all places where he could have used Nature or substance...
[13:28] Arianne (ariannejp): Why he used the word "god" ?  it might cause confuseion
[13:28] herman Bergson: I am convinced..it was just to protect himself against the worst
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): god was just a code word or masking of the word matter or substance
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): to keep the church calm
[13:29] herman Bergson: Arianne...in 1660 you can NOT be a materialist and thence atheist as a philosopher....impossible
[13:29] Arianne (ariannejp): we know all thingy in nature has spirit even pumpkins
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well...we can disagree on that :-))
[13:30] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i agree some sort of spirit in all things
[13:31] herman Bergson: You could put it in another way, Gemma...
[13:31] herman Bergson: It is a fact that plants respond to their environment....
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): true
[13:31] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): back to instinct
[13:31] herman Bergson: even develop features to kill opponents....like insects
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): or trees warn each other when there is a disease
[13:32] herman Bergson: but you have to take into account the presence and level of development of a central nervous system....
[13:32] herman Bergson: and there our story about consciousness begins....
[13:33] herman Bergson: and the word MIND becomes applicable
[13:33] herman Bergson: Spinoza wasn't a panpsychist....
[13:34] Arianne (ariannejp): very low level worm can avoid danger without central nervous system
[13:34] herman Bergson: he also refers to the differences in the complexity of organisms in relation to mind
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes Arianne
[13:34] herman Bergson: an amoebe van
[13:35] herman Bergson: a single cel organisme even....
[13:35] CB Axel: OK, but do rocks have spirit?
[13:35] herman Bergson: that is what made evolution possible
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i would say so since they hold together
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): does the earth itself have a spirit?
[13:35] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): from the softest to the  hardest
[13:35] herman Bergson: lol...CB....years ago there was a hype....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Take a rock as pet....a big stone...
[13:36] Arianne (ariannejp): Who can say they have not spirit or mind? Just we dn't have measuring scales
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:36] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): pet rocks
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes Gemma....
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehehe
[13:36] herman Bergson: there were commercials...
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ive heard of those
[13:36] herman Bergson: your rock pet was soooo obedient.....
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i never had a pet rock but have a rock i picked up in 1987 in my car
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): moved it to new cars as i bought them
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe ok
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i was taking a class in geology
[13:37] herman Bergson: there...that rock has a mind for you...I assume ^_^
[13:37] CB Axel: Oh, pet rocks are good at sitting and staying, but I never saw one bring slippers or the newspaper. °͜°
[13:37] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): it has something
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): right now I am distracted watching the hurricane move in on Florida
[13:38] herman Bergson: To get back to Arianne's remark....
[13:38] Alina Gabilondo: ohh i am sorry
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): on the tv that is
[13:38] Alina Gabilondo: may i ask??
[13:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i think in 1660 it was even dangerous to have a rock as a pet
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): no i am north in ct
[13:38] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i agree beertje
[13:39] herman Bergson: I don't think a single person ever would have thought about that in those dys Beertje
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): did people even have real pets?
[13:39] herman Bergson: only commercial Americans do :-)
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): cats?
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): dogs?
[13:39] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): smiles
[13:39] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): birds?
[13:40] herman Bergson: They certainly had dogs Gemma!
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they had dogs to protect and cats to eat
[13:40] Alina Gabilondo: i would like to ask
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): i thought so
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): cats to eat mice and other vermin
[13:40] Alina Gabilondo: who is considered materialist?
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ah
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no..they ate the cat
[13:40] herman Bergson: what do you mean Alina?
[13:40] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): that too
[13:41] herman Bergson: Spinoza is...
[13:41] Arianne (ariannejp): We have amulet in our car , house, wallet , wish no-crash, no fire, enrich lol
[13:41] Alina Gabilondo: i meant to ask
[13:41] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): what i materialism i think she means
[13:41] Alina Gabilondo: you said tha Spinoza was not materialist
[13:41] Alina Gabilondo: but that all around made from atoms was known BC
[13:41] Alina Gabilondo: much more
[13:42] herman Bergson: Guess you misread Alina....Spinoza IS a meterialist in his philosophy
[13:42] Alina Gabilondo: he could know that all built from small ... elements
[13:42] Alina Gabilondo: let me check
[13:43] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): yes he said Spinoza was a materialist in response to my comment about his use of god
[13:43] herman Bergson: Democritus indeed had his atom theory....but it was just a product of his philosophical imagination...
[13:44] herman Bergson: or..like the rationalists do....a deduction from assumptions or axioms, as Spinoza does
[13:44] Alina Gabilondo: herman Bergson: Arianne...in 1660 you can NOT be a materialist and thence atheist as a philosopher....impossible did i misread this??
[13:44] herman Bergson: nevertheless an amazing logic
[13:44] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): he said that after 4
[13:44] Arianne (ariannejp): I thouht Spinoza said material has element not only  matters but mind(god)  either ,
[13:45] herman Bergson: I meant to say that it is impossible in those days to be that, Alina....so Spinoza used the word god to cover up his materialism
[13:45] Alina Gabilondo: ohh ok
[13:45] CB Axel: Well, you could be a materialist. You just couldn't say that you were.
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:46] herman Bergson: Just imagine...the man was almost stabbed to death by some idiot....
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats how the times wer back then
[13:46] CB Axel: Unless you wanted to be seriously dead.
[13:46] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): 13:25] herman Bergson: he was a clear cut materialist....
[13:46] Alina Gabilondo: yes it was said after
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): in some countries today one can't say the same Bejiita
[13:46] herman Bergson: CB..you can be anything as long as you keep your mouth shut ^_^
[13:46] CB Axel: Exactly!
[13:47] Alina Gabilondo: KGB inquisition
[13:47] CB Axel: I would soooo have been arrested or killed back then.
[13:47] herman Bergson: But philosophers can't
[13:47] Alina Gabilondo: :))) same phenomenon
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed beertje, in many middleeast countries for ex they kill non muslims without thought
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): awful
[13:47] Alina Gabilondo: burn
[13:47] Alina Gabilondo: as witch
[13:48] CB Axel: Fuego
[13:48] CB Axel: Fuego!
[13:48] CB Axel: There I go.
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok calm down its not burning man until next weekend!
[13:48] herman Bergson: Look at it form the positive side
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:48] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: she train
[13:49] CB Axel: No Fuego!
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i so look forward to it
[13:49] herman Bergson: When we burn CB, we all might have a nice steak :-)
[13:49] CB Axel: You wouldn't like it. Too fatty.
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:49] herman Bergson: Ahh...she cooled down :-)
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): (puts away fire extinguisher)
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:49] Arianne (ariannejp): Ahhhh , my time is over, I need to go for work, thanks so much intersting discussion
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i helped a little
[13:49] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): another nice lecture it was
[13:50] Arianne (ariannejp): thanks everyone ,
[13:50] herman Bergson: Time for all of us to go to work Arriane :-)
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i'm going to bed:)
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): true
[13:50] herman Bergson: So thank you all again for your participation....
[13:50] CB Axel: Bye, Arianne. I enjoyed hearing your ideas.
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): will try to make it tuesday
[13:50] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
 [13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu next time
[13:50] Arianne (ariannejp): Working is important , we must earn for pay Jar lol
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:50] Gemma (gemma.cleanslate): bye for now
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman and goodnight everyone
[13:51] CB Axel: See you all on Tuesday.
[13:51] CB Axel gives Arianne's doggy a quick pat on the head
[13:51] herman Bergson: Till next Tuesday :-)
[13:51] Arianne (ariannejp): :xD
[13:51] Arianne (ariannejp): bye fo now
[13:52] Alina Gabilondo: byee
[13:53] Alina Gabilondo: thanks!!
[13:53] Alina Gabilondo: good night!!
[13:53] herman Bergson: Take care Alina :-)

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