Monday, February 9, 2009

The Story of Philosophy-chapter 4- Spinoza

Will Durant seems quite sympathetic to the elders of the synagogue that excommunicated Spinoza. See page 197 as to how he justifies their intolerance. It could be the rationalization that any religous community uses to subdue freethinking and promote intolerance. After the excommunication Spinoza goes to live in the attic of Mennonites. After five years, they move and he follows them. quote from page 210 "people will always demand a religion phrased in imagery and haloed with the supernatural; if one such form of faith is destroyed they will create another. But the philosopher knows that God and nature are one being." quote from page 213 "the only permanent happiness is the pursuit of knowledge and the joy of understanding." quote from page 221 "by the help of god I mean the fixed and unchangeable order of nature, or the chain of natural events." quote from page 223 "Good and bad are relative to individual tastes and ends, and have no validity for a universe in which individuals are ephemera." my comment: There may not be universal good and bad but surely there is good and bad within a society.'s what keeps it together. Yes? page 228 summarizes Spinoza's thoughts on free will: "there is, consequently, no free will." "Men think themselves free because they are conscious of their volitions and desires, but are ignorant of the causes by which they are led to wish and desire." my comment: It's hard to prove either way. BUT it seems that IF there is free will, then by Pascal's wager a belief in free will would be the better belief system. page 230: "I have labored carefully not to mock, lament, or execrate, but to understand human actions" page 233: "each man must love himself and seek what is useful to him" page 238: "Precisely because men's actions are determined by their memories, society must for its protection form its citizen through their hopes and fears into some measure of social order and cooperation. All education presupposes determinism and pours into the open mind of youth a store of prohibitions which are expected to participate in determining conduct." page 247: "part of the individual's natural might is handed over to the organized community in return for the enlargement of the sphere of his remaining powers." page 248: "Laws against free speech are subversive of all law; for men will not long respect laws which they may not criticize." page 249: Spinoza, while recognizing the necessity of the state, distrusts it, knowing that power corrupts even the incorruptible." page 252: The defect of democracy is its tendency to put mediocrity into power. page 252: he who seeks equality between unequals seeks an absurdity

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