Thursday, November 10, 2016

631: Spinoza's Psychology

Spinoza is a metaphysician. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. 
Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:
  1. [1] ”What is there?" and [2] "What is it like?"
A person who studies metaphysics is called a metaphysicist or a metaphysician..
Spinoza is a systematic philosopher and nowhere is his system more ambitious and under more strain 
than in his attempt to derive an account of human motivation, affects, and other mental states from his general metaphysics. 
This project of deriving psychology from metaphysics stems from Spinoza's guiding belief in naturalism about human beings.
In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world.  
Adherents of naturalism assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.
As we already have seen, Spinoza expresses his ideas about man very explicitly in the preface of part III of his Ethica (1677),
when he states that man is not “situated in nature as a kingdom within a kingdom” and 
that the psychology of man is not “some mysterious flaw in the nature of man” and
by saying that “nothing comes to pass in nature, which can be set down to a flaw therein; for nature is always the same, 
and everywhere one and the same in her efficacy and power of action; (…) so that there should be one and the same method 
of understanding the nature of all things whatsoever, namely, through nature's universal laws and rules.”
Spinoza thence assumes that there are natural laws and rules governing the psychological states of human beings.
and that these laws and rules are instances of more general laws and rules operative throughout nature.
So we have to find out what laws and rules of nature Spinoza had in mind, which would prove his naturalistic explanation of the origin and nature of the emotions.
“PROPOSITIO VI. Unaquaeque res, quantum in se est, in suo esse perseverare conatur.”
You may not understand this immediately, but proposition 6 is the heart of Spinoza’s psychology.
It means: “Each thing, insofar as it is in itself, strives to persevere in its being”. This must be such a law of nature, which Spinoza had in mind.
It sounds as a understandable statement. Someone might even read in it a Darwinian meaning.
However, here we run into some problems. Spinoza says “Each thing…”. He may mean living organisms, but “each” includes also stones and chairs, for instance.
So no Darwin avant la lettre? What does Spinoza mean with his Proposition 6? Did he actually have human nature in mind
or did he really mean the natures of everything, living and non-living things? And what about a suicidal person…?
Questions enough…., good for another lecture…thank you …^_^

The Discussion

[13:18] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:19] herman Bergson: This is just the start :-)
[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:19] Alina Gabilondo: did studies notify that each thing as Spinoza said was expression those days??
[13:20] herman Bergson: Each thing strives to persevere in its being....
[13:20] Alina Gabilondo: strives to persevere
[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes
[13:20] Alina Gabilondo: exactly u type more fast
[13:21] Alina Gabilondo: so it is result of reflection - work of mind
[13:21] Ciska Riverstone: the question again is what is behind perseverance
[13:21] herman Bergson: the questionable issue is the meaning of "strives"
[13:21] Alina Gabilondo: and how you will define it??
[13:21] herman Bergson: If Spinoza had also stones and chairs in does a stone strive to persevere in being....
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: how does a chair persevere - or how do we know it does
[13:22] Alina Gabilondo: Spinoza did not mean chairs
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: it seems to boil down to a general consciousness
[13:22] herman Bergson: the point is....that this "strives" is not a psychological term in this context
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: (which others might call god again ;) )
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: what is it then?
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): does he mean how chemistry keeps molecules and thus matter together maybe
[13:23] herman Bergson: it  is equavalent to something like "tends to"
[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): how matter stay together and why some things are stable and other things not
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): for example Acids and bases want to get neutral so they react cause they want to be like water wich is stable
[13:24] herman Bergson: I'll get back to it next time but Spinoza uses the word conatur.....
[13:24] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): things like that
[13:24] herman Bergson: and he uses it in the same way Descartes , his tutor, more or less....uses it
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: as an abstract principle?
[13:25] Alina Gabilondo: hmmm i am losing thread
[13:25] herman Bergson: another  issue that needs to be explained is the expression "thing, insofar as it is in itself"
[13:26] Alina Gabilondo: isolated??
[13:26] herman Bergson: it actualla means...a thin NOT influenced by causes from outside....
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: the so-being - yes familiar buddhist concept ;)
[13:26] herman Bergson: so you could read proposition 6 like this
[13:27] herman Bergson: Each thing, insofar it is not influenced by external causes, tends to persevere in being....
[13:27] herman Bergson: for instance.....
[13:27] herman Bergson: a ball will roll on forever in a straight line as long as there are no external forces working on it
[13:28] Alina Gabilondo: newton here
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:28] herman Bergson: on the other hand....we may ask the question....
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: (each thing apart from the human being- that is  - I guess- when u look at the famous experiment with the kids who got nothing but food  and basic care and died)
[13:29] herman Bergson: was this really what Spinoza had in mind, or did he have especially yet human nature in mind when he formulated proposition 6
[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm good question indeed
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: would it make sense if he had? and if so how?
[13:29] herman Bergson: we'll deal with that next Thursday :-)
[13:31] herman Bergson: what experiment was that Ciska?
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: I forgot that king who gave that order
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: to bring up kids with no care but just changing the diapers and giving food
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: no attention else
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: no love
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: and they died
[13:31] Ciska Riverstone: very famous
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: that experiment
[13:32] Ciska Riverstone: (and inhuman seen from our perspective)
[13:32] herman Bergson: but here are external forces in action....
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ooww awful experiment :(
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: it was bejiita
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: there is food yes
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: but they obviously did not persevere
[13:33] herman Bergson: I think it is more a kind of a story.....
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: no it happened - I find it next time
[13:33] herman Bergson: not a scientific experiment
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: its historic
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: some king did that
[13:34] herman Bergson: ok :-)
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: long time ago
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: pretty famous that one
[13:34] herman Bergson: that is what I mean....
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: but names .. . and me
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: not working together ,)
[13:34] Alina Gabilondo: Spinoza definitely talk about human i think
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: bergie just told me
[13:34] Alina Gabilondo: if u said psychology word here
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: friedrich der zweite did that
[13:35] herman Bergson: Wan lebte diese Friedrich der Zweite?
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: here is an article
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: german
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: I try to find something in english
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: its mentioned there
[13:36] herman Bergson: not Germen is "perfekt"....ask Bergie ^_^
[13:36] Alina Gabilondo: but it is well known that kids from orphanage are different
[13:36] Alina Gabilondo: i saw it with my own eyes
[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): lol er hatte mindenstes 13 frauen:)
[13:37] herman Bergson: Ahh ein Sammler :-))
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:38] Ciska Riverstone: it is mentioned there
[13:38] herman Bergson: But such  kids are exposed to external causes and are not a thing, insofar as it is in itself
[13:39] Alina Gabilondo: there is not example of isolated thing
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: well in friedrichs experiment
[13:39] Alina Gabilondo: we all live and all things are parts of system
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: they really were only exposed to food and basic body care
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: they died as babies
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: did not persevere
[13:40] bergfrau Apfelbaum: yes hermans german is perfekt.. :-))
[13:40] herman Bergson: ^_* Bergie
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well....We'll look into this issue next time and in the meantime I'll read  about this peculiar experiment
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: yes do so - in Germany it really is pretty famous
[13:41] herman Bergson: interesting....
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: for its cruelty of course :/
[13:42] herman Bergson: I guess so, yes...
[13:42] Alina Gabilondo: passion and emotions by Spinoza??
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: but it does have a point in terms of : is language material? ;)
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: ( when we argue with spinoza)
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: ( because communication was taken away from those babies)
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: (and interaction)
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): poor babies
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: its really an inhuman experiment
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: totally cruel.
[13:44] herman Bergson: Spinoza would language call a mode of being...
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: but it has obviously influence on the material
[13:45] herman Bergson: these babies were blocked from string to persevere in being....
[13:45] herman Bergson: striving...
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: well the material was there
[13:45] herman Bergson: pretty sad story....
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: food - basic health care
[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but no love
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: it is
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: beerjte
[13:46] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): love is very powerful
[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): one needs love too
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: thats my point
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: when love is no material but a  mode of being how does that experiment fit to Spinoza?
[13:47] herman Bergson: Good issue to think about for the next class...
[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:47] herman Bergson: I'll think about it Ciska :-))
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: good
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: hheheh
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's late I have to go
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): have a goodnight
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: welerusten beertje
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: good night!
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu thursday then
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: oops
[13:48] herman Bergson: A good moment to dismiss Class....
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: welterusten
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): welterusten allemaal:)
[13:48] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje...
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: dankejwel
[13:48] Alina Gabilondo: the end??
[13:49] herman Bergson: I  realize that CB isn’t here either.....
[13:49] herman Bergson: Election Day fever I guess
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: I bet
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: tough one
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm today is the day
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well know tomorrow.....
[13:49] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well we will see how it goes
[13:50] Alina Gabilondo: thank you so much all
[13:50] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): bye for now
[13:50] Alina Gabilondo: good night!! :)))
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: have a good day / night everyone
[13:50] bergfrau Apfelbaum: good night:-) see you in 2 days

[13:50] herman Bergson: Bye and night :-)