Tuesday, October 11, 2016

625: Is god substance and is substance matter?

In my previous lecture I quoted some statements, taken from the “Ethica” (1677) of Spinoza and said: 
replace the word “god” by the word “matter” 
and the text makes perfect sense as a materialist philosophy.

Let me quote CB Axel now: But how do you know that when Spinoza wrote God in Ethica that he really meant matter?
A justified question. Is it just one of the possible interpretations or did Spinoza literally mean that “god” and “substance” refer to the same thing: matter?
Spinoza most certainly is a philosophical rationalist: that is, he does operate on the basis of indubitable, 
because logically necessary, propositions from which further knowledge, equally certain, can be deduced by the proper exercise of reason.
We must keep in mind that Spinoza wrote at a time when the distinction between philosophy and science was not yet clear, 
when science was still known as "natural philosophy," and when the struggle between science and religion was still political and violent.
The “Ethica” consists of five parts, of which part one has the title “Concerning God” (De Deo). For his reasoning he uses the rational method of mathematics.
Thus Spinoza structures his text as a kind of mathematical reasoning by going from definitions to axioms
to get to propositions which can be logically deduced from the definitions, axioms and other propositions
Spinoza’s world does not consist of matter. His world is actually much more abstract. It consists of SUBSTANCE, ATTRIBUTES   and MODES…
To show you how abstract that is…when you think of matter you have at least the connotation of being tangible, or visible in some way.
The question is, whether you can say, that matter is a substance? Here you immediately feel the implied question: do there exist other substances than matter?
Descartes would have answered YES. And he left us with the dualism of body and mind.  
What does Spinoza say about this issue. When you read the “Ethica”, you find an awesome example of abstract thinking.
First the definition:”III. BY SUBSTANCE, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself; in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.”
What Spinoza says here, is simply something like: when you try to “visualise” substance, you only can say…. IT IS….
As a true rationalist, who believes that the ratio can produce clear and distinct ideas, which are truths, Spinoza formulates his axioms.
“Axiom I. Everything which exists, exists either in itself or in something else.”
Then follow proposition 7 and 8…
PROPOSITION VII. Existence belongs to the nature of substance.
PROOF−−Substance cannot be produced by anything external, it must, therefore, be its own cause−−that is, its essence necessarily involves existence, or existence belongs to its nature.
PROPOSITION VIII. Every substance is necessarily infinite.”
What Spinoza says about substance, in fact a word for a completely abstract way of BEING, he also says about his god.

“PROPOPSITION XV. Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived.”, for instance. This looks closely like Axiom One.  

In fact you are inclined to conclude that the concept of god in Spinoza’s philosophy only is there for the public to keep the opponents quiet.
As I said before, science and philosophy were not so clearly separated in Spinoza’s time as they are now. That is why Spinoza still thinks in terms of substances, while we now talk about matter.
And like Spinoza we can say, that matter just IS. That is all we know, it just is. We do not know where it came from and we do not know where it will end……
Thank you….^_^

The Discussion

[13:20] CB Axel: Whew
[13:20] herman Bergson: This was an attempt to let you feel how abstract Spinoza in fact is
[13:20] Ciska Riverstone: love just is too. so love is matter?
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we just know today everything is made of atoms in turn comprised of even smaller subatomic particles but we still dont know why they are or where they came from,
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): they just is
[13:21] CB Axel: Right, Bejiita.
[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): just like in Spinoza’s ideas
[13:21] Ciska Riverstone: I bet he reas a buddhist book ;)
[13:21] herman Bergson: No Ciska....love is an attribute of matter, would Spinoza answer
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: how does he going to prove that?
[13:22] herman Bergson: oops...one man down :-(
[13:22] herman Bergson: Only by logical reasoning, Ciska
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: cannot see anything logical about not knowing
[13:23] herman Bergson: What are you referring at, Ciska?
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: well he can of course for his argument make the assumption that love is an attribute of matter
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: but thats just an assumption
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: it helps with the theory
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: I get that
[13:24] herman Bergson: In Spinoza's philosophy there is just ONE substance....
[13:24] herman Bergson: there can not be two substances....
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: yes - so for the theoretical built of his - It helps
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: so its a close system
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: but thats about it
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: (love was just an example of course)
[13:25] herman Bergson: Everything we perceive is a manifestation of this substance with different attributes and modes
[13:26] CB Axel: Including a god, if there is one.
[13:26] herman Bergson: It is really such an abstract way of thinking
[13:27] herman Bergson: God and substance are identical, CB....
[13:27] herman Bergson: proposition 11
[13:27] CB Axel: OK
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its a bit like string theory where all atoms and particles are made of one and same string which just twists differently to make up all other things
[13:27] Ciska Riverstone: then love is substance too ;)
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): his "only one substance"
[13:27] herman Bergson: God, or substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence, necessarily exists.
[13:28] CB Axel: I was thinking string theory, too, Bejiita.
[13:28] herman Bergson: I am sorry Ciska...for Spinoza there only can exist ONE substance :-))
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed, that sound just like an early version of string theory, one string millions of different attributes4
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: yes  I understand ;)
[13:29] CB Axel: Aren't the strings supposed to be energy? Maybe the one substance is energy.
[13:29] herman Bergson: you just must try to imagine the idea of THERE IS......only that
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): might be cb
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): we already know that particle accelerators can convert energy to matter by the theory of relativity
[13:29] herman Bergson: I think Spinoza realized that there is a real world...just that....not any transcendental or supernatural one....
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): so indeed matter and energy go into each other
[13:30] herman Bergson: so the only thing he could assume was, that THERE IS...
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: well no - for him the supernatural and transcendental are included in the one
[13:31] herman Bergson: and his next step is to define how this IS gets shape by attributes.....like red or being an apple
[13:31] herman Bergson: YEs Ciska, but that was due to his time....Somewhere he had to find a place for the god idea...
[13:32] herman Bergson: so he identified it with the substance idea
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:32] herman Bergson: which just IS......
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: for me it sounds like he took buddhism and  put it into mathematic reasoning
[13:32] CB Axel: There is substance, so if you need a god then that substance is god and god is the substance.
[13:32] herman Bergson: exit personal god idea
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: yes cb thats how I perceive Spinoza too
[13:33] herman Bergson: It is quite well possible that two persons "invent" the same thoughts independently of eachother
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: well of course  - the paralells are just bestowing
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes CB and in that sense this god idea with all its cultural connotations is completely superfluous
[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: just for the theory - not for everyday life
[13:34] herman Bergson: I'd say so too Ciska ^_^
[13:35] herman Bergson: But that is partly what philosophy is about....
[13:35] herman Bergson: trying to understand reality
[13:35] CB Axel: Right. And by saying that the substance and god are one, he can keep the church happy. God is everywhere and in everything because everything is made of the same substance as god.
[13:35] herman Bergson: that is not what we do in ordinary life..there we just go shopping and check our bank account ^_^
[13:36] herman Bergson: True CB...
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: for that no one needs god either ;)
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes thats exactly mi thoughts too
[13:36] herman Bergson: Spinoza lived in constand danger and threats...
[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): god is just a code word to not upset the church
[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): in reality he means substance
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes...but dont forget.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: religion was so deeply embedded in the culture of those days...
[13:38] herman Bergson: We cant feel how those people felt
[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm thats true
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well....maybe when you live in the US and say you are an atheist, you get the same experiences and feelings as people in 1700 :-)))
[13:39] CB Axel: It's not quite *that* bad. lol
[13:39] herman Bergson: Just a sidetrack....
[13:39] CB Axel: I don't think I'll be burned at the stake any time soon,
[13:39] herman Bergson: I am reading The God Delusion of Richard Dawkins again.....:-)
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: The question is still a practical one - what happens if people start "believing" in substance
[13:40] herman Bergson: Soooo irritating....:-))
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: on form of that is neoliberalism
[13:40] herman Bergson: He only writes against American religiosity
[13:40] herman Bergson: Makes it look over there like 1500 :-)
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:41] herman Bergson: You can not BELIEVE in substance Ciska....:-)
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: well not me ;)
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: but people do
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: hahah
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: because they do not get the idea about what the attributes of the substance really do
[13:42] herman Bergson: From a rationalist point of view the KNOWLEDGE of the existence of substance is a clear and distinct idea.....
[13:42] herman Bergson: On the other hand....
[13:43] herman Bergson: the word substance has lost its glory in our everyday speech.....
[13:43] herman Bergson: it has disappeared from philosophical debates
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): substance is rather vague
[13:44] herman Bergson: It even is  almost a pejorative word..a negative word...
[13:44] CB Axel: It has been replaced by matter?
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but basically it is same as what i would call matter
[13:44] herman Bergson: what kind of substance is that.....?
[13:44] CB Axel: Molecules and atoms?
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): something you can see feel and measure
[13:44] herman Bergson: you ask and shiver :-)
[13:44] CB Axel: And subatomic particles?
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): then we have the dark mater issue of course
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes CB...
[13:44] herman Bergson: now it is matter, molecules, atoms, protons.....
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: yes - so how do you measure the attribute love of an athom?
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: ato?
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: atom?
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: ,)
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): you smash it!
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): then u can measure
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:45] herman Bergson: By checking out your atoms, Ciska ^_^
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: well I really would like to see that one measured
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: really
[13:45] herman Bergson smiles
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: as it seems to be so "easy" for so many
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): in reality its not so easy
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: there is no way yet bejiita
[13:46] herman Bergson: so how do you measure the attribute love of an athom?
[13:46] herman Bergson: that is a category mistake....
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): i think its just because we take matter for granted but when we look at its inned´r workings it gets REALLY complicated!
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: well love just is - isn't it? ;)
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:46] herman Bergson: using a word from psychology inn a context of physics
[13:47] CB Axel: Love is an attribute of the atoms that make up your brain.
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: the problem is the belief that matter can be measured and there for is the only thing that matters ;) is already guiding our politics
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah
[13:47] herman Bergson: no...love is a kind of behavior of homo sapiens induced by hormons and the like  :-)
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: yes cb - but how to measure it?
[13:47] CB Axel: The neurons and the neurotransmitters between them
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: I can do that with my brain cells
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:47] CB Axel: It can't be measured, and why would you want to?
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: why do you want to measure all other stuff in physics
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: ?
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: to know how it works
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: to see the relations
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: to understand how it comes to existence
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): to know why and how it works
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: in which mix
[13:48] CB Axel: Maybe you could measure all the seratonin or whatever is flowing around in your brain.
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: yes - then I know the seratonin
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: substance
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:49] herman Bergson: make fMRI scans of the brain that is in love :-)
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: and that people have different much of that and still say they feel good
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: or in love
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: or whatever
[13:49] CB Axel: That's all that love is is chemicals.
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: of course its based in matter
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: but I still cannot measure it
[13:50] herman Bergson: Ahhh Ciska....I think we'll get to your point when I'll discuss Damasio in relation to Spinoza...
[13:50] herman Bergson: Damasio
[13:50] herman Bergson: The relation between emotions and feelings.....
[13:51] herman Bergson: We'll get to that
[13:52] herman Bergson: SO before we all become to abstract....
[13:52] herman Bergson: May I thank you again for your participation...:-)
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:52] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman  - thanx all
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ...^_^

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