Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spinoza by Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein is introducing me to Spinoza. I like the way she writes. In the first chapter she touches on Spinoza's personality including his propensity for tolerance, his dread of quarrels, his excommunication from the jewish sect, and his insistence on the separation of church and state. Ms Goldstein states "Spinoza placed all his faith on the power of reason" In the second chapter, Ms Goldstein takes us back to when she was first introduced to Spinoza. Quite a delightful tale. She said that her high school teacher said that Spinoza said that God was identical with nature. After Spinoza's excommunication, he studied Christian renegades like Descartes.

page 46. Shalom bayis is respect for one's parents. Spinoza didn't start speaking out until after his parents had died out of respect for them.

page 48. Goldstein says that in her studies she had gravitated toward analytic philosophy, ie reason's powers must be augmented by observation and scientific explanations. She says that Spinoza was willing to rely on pure reason.

page 53. Goldstein says that Spinoza said that God is immanent in nature, not transcendent. And he said that the difference between right and wrong is immanent within our human nature.

page 55 Goldstein states the position of the analytic philosophers: "If no experiences could, in principle, count for or against a proposition, then it is not only unknowable but also devoid of content.

page 61 Hawkins liked Spinoza

page 62 Einstein liked Spinoza

page 71-72--excerpts from The Ethics

'page 81. Aristotle's explanations relied heavily on final causes, a final cause is the end for which the event or process took place. teleological. Maybe I'll go back to try to understand what she is saying about Aristotle's philosophy. She says he was the greatest philosopher of his time. But the great thinkers of the 17th century (Galileo, Descartes and Newton) would dismantle Aristotle's teleological explanations. Spinoza would join the camp of Descartes in this regard.

page 82. reconciliatory theism

to be continued after I finish The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant

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