Spinoza, What a Life!

A common thread of Thought and Truth ran through the best thinkers in history.

Baruch Spinoza believed in a “Philosophy of tolerance and benevolence” and actually lived the life he preached. 

Harold Bloom, wrote: 

“As a teacher of reality, he practiced his own wisdom, and was surely one of the most exemplary human beings ever to have lived.”

Goethe recounts the way in which Spinoza’s Ethics calmed the sometimes unbearable emotional turbulence of his youth. 

Goethe later displayed his grasp of Spinoza’s metaphysics in a fragmentary elucidation of some Spinozist ontological principles entitled Study After Spinoza.

Moreover, he cited Spinoza alongside Shakespeare and Carl Linnaeus as one of the three strongest influences on his life and work.

Albert Einstein named Spinoza as the philosopher who exerted the most influence on his world view.

Spinoza equated God (infinite substance) with Nature, consistent with Einstein’s belief in an impersonal deity. 

In 1929, Einstein was asked in a telegram by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein whether he believed in God. Einstein responded by telegram:

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”

Spinoza Synopsis (With my Spin)

We are emotional beings that think reason provides us with the illusion of Choice!

We are driven by Impulses, a polarity, that either make us: 

More Human (The Creative Force: towards growth and Truth)

Or

Less Human (The Adaptive Instinct: towards safety and survival)

An emotion can only be displaced or overcome by a stronger emotion. 

For Spinoza, the crucial distinction was between:

active emotions:      rationally understood.        Conscious

passive emotions: not rationally understood.   Unconscious

*knowledge of true causes of passive emotion can transform it to an active emotion.

Through the search of Truth we can expose Unconscious emotions and See them.

Reason and Logic alone can never reveal the deeper truths

While components of the chain of cause and effect are not beyond the understanding of human reason, human grasp of the infinitely complex whole is limited because of the limits of science to empirically take account of the whole sequence. 

Spinoza also asserted that sense perception, though practical and useful, is inadequate for discovering truth.  

Conatus human beings’ natural inclination is to: 

Strive (employ their own Will) toward preserving an essential being and an assertion that virtue/human power is defined by success in this preservation of being by the guidance of reason as one’s central ethical doctrine. 

*Striving through ones own Will depletes us and disempowers us!  

The three kinds of knowledge that come with perceptions.

Opinion

The first kind of knowledge: is the knowledge of experiences. More precisely, this first type of knowledge can be known as the knowledge of things that could be “mutilated, confused, and without order.” Irrational

Aka the knowledge of dangerous reasoning lacks any type of rationality that causes the mind to be in “passive” state. “passive mind” is a state of the mind in where adequate causes become passions. 

*Unconscious, emotionally we are driven to “Rationalize” to appear to apply Reason to our choices

Reason

The second knowledge:involves reasoning plus emotions. This knowledge is had by the rationality of any adequate causes that have to do with anything common to the human mind. 

This could be anything that is classified as of being imperfect virtue. Imperfect virtues are those that are incomplete virtues. 

*We are driven Unconsciously by our emotions but we apply reason that, to the Common person, appears to have merit.  This is coined an Imperfect Virtue because we attempt to imitate virtue as the Common person understands it

Intuitive

The third knowledge: the knowledge of God or Nature or the Truth. This type of knowledge requires rationality and reason of the mind.  This type of knowledge joins together the essence of God with the individual essence. This knowledge is also formed from any adequate causes that include perfect virtue. 

*We merge the Truth of Self with the Truth of Nature/God.  We are Aware, we are Conscious. We are not Striving with our own Powered Will!  A Perfect Virtue can only be experienced in this way.  In our way, not through doing what we think we should based upon the Common man.

Intuitive knowledge:

provides the greatest satisfaction of mind, the more we are conscious of ourselves and Nature/Universe, the more perfect and blessed we are (in reality) and that only intuitive knowledge is eternal.  

The world as it exists looks imperfect only because of our limited perception.

the highest virtue is the intellectual love or knowledge of God/Nature/Universe.

“True Blessedness”

emotions must be detached from external cause and so master them,

*foreshadow psychological techniques, anything we attach ourselves to outside of ourself cannot be rational

Universal Genius: Under the Radar

“Goethe can never be dear to men. 

His is not even the devotion to pure truth; but to truth for the sake of culture. 

He has no aims less large than the conquest of universal nature, of universal truth, to be his portion: a man not to be bribed, nor deceived, nor overawed; of a stoical self-command and self-denial, and having one test for all men, What can you teach me? 

All possessions are valued by him for that only; rank, privileges, health, time, Being itself. 

He is the type of culture, the amateur of all arts and sciences and events; artistic, but not artist; spiritual, but not spiritualist. 

There is nothing he had not right to know: there is no weapon in the armory of universal genius he did not take into his hand, but with peremptory heed that he should not be for a moment prejudiced by his instruments. 

He lays a ray of light under every fact, and between himself and his dearest property. 

From him nothing was hid, nothing withholden.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cause and Effect With Conscious Observation and Cause

The Mind is to the Brain as a Movie on the Screen is to its Projector

The Projector: moves the film and focuses light through the film, to project an image of the film onto a screen.

The Proximate cause of the Image is the Projector. 

The Proximate effect are the Images on the Screen.

The images intended purpose (Intention of the Conscious Creator) is to provide a meaning to the observer(s) (intended effect) 

Depending on the observer(s), various meanings will be received from the images (unintended and intended effect).

The Projector and film are the same but the meaning they convey varies depending on the observer and the conditions under which the image is viewed.  

The artistic expression (movie) was created, by one or more conscious beings, who intended to supply the observers with a message or intended meaning. 

The Mind:

Sensory information enters the brain via one of five basic senses.  

(It first is processed through the Limbic Center, in the sub-cortical center of the brain, where emotions and feelings are attached.  We know the anatomical pathways of input, and what parts of the Limbic System do what, through studies of observing the brain under various conditions.  Brain Imaging, and direct stimulation of various areas in the brain, tell us which structures of the brain are responsible what the various functions of the brain.) 

The Brain processes information from all of the senses and then applies meaning through emotions and feelings via The Limbic System.  The meaning that is assigned to our perceptions is not static, but dynamic.  The Mind, through experience, thought, knowledge, deeper insights and introspection, then determines how the Brain (the Hardware) is programmed, as beliefs (software) dictate what feelings and meaning we attach to all perceptions.  Materialists tend to give credit to what they can measure, to the tangible.  To say that the Amygdala does this and the Hippocampus does that is akin to saying a gun killed someone.  The gun was the proximate cause, but the individual that pulled the trigger was, and his beliefs, were Ultimately the Fundamental Cause.

The Proximate cause of the Mind is the Machinery of the Brain needed for Thought!

(Those that study the Brain assign different parts of the Brain with the different functions it performs.  For example, It is presumed that because the Hippocampus Processes new memories and provides the Cortex access to these memories, and then assists in the coding of these memories into long term memories, that part of The Mind therefore, necessarily resides in the Hippocampus.  

This is analogous to the motor of the Projector that moves the film across its lens and light provided by its bulb.  The motor, although necessary for the display of moving pictures is not itself part of the Movie, nor is it the Meaning intended to be communicated by its creators.  This function can only be carried out by the thought projected by the intention of the Creator, by the Observers.)

In everyday life we are observers. What meaning we discern from the perceptions that we have depends on our programming.  Our beliefs, like the software we install in our computers, are our programming.  Where did our programming come from?

The Writer

“Talent alone can not make a writer. 

There must be a man behind the book; a personality which by birth and quality is pledged to the doctrines there set forth, and which exists to see and state things so, and not otherwise; holding things because they are things. 

If he can not rightly express himself today, the same things subsist and will open themselves tomorrow. 

There lies the burden on his mind, the burden of truth to be declared, more or less understood; and it constitutes his business and calling in the world to see those facts through, and to make them known. 

What signifies that he trips and stammers; that his voice is harsh or hissing; that his method or his tropes are inadequate? 

That message will find method and imagery, articulation and melody. 

Though he were dumb it would speak. 

If not, if there be no such God’s word in the man, what care we how adroit, how fluent, how brilliant he is? 

It makes a great difference to the force of any sentence whether there be a man behind it or no. 

In the learned journal, in the influential newspaper, I discern no form; only some irresponsible shadow; oftener some moneyed corporation, or some dangler who hopes, in the mask and robes of his paragraph, to pass for somebody. 

But through every clause and part of speech of a right book I meet the eyes of the most determined of men; his force and terror inundate every word; the commas and dashes are alive; so that the writing is athletic and nimble can go far and live long.”

-RW Emerson 

Music, the Language of the Soul

“If I were not a physicist I would probably be a musician.  I often think of music. Life without playing music is inconceivable for me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music, I get most joy in life out of music.”

-Albert Einstein

“I call architecture frozen Music”

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating 

than is that of the other arts, for these others speak 

only of the shadow, but music of the essence.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

“Without music life would be a mistake.”

-Frederick Nietzsche

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

-William Shakespeare 

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” 

-Victor Hugo

“Music is the movement of sound to reach to soul for the education of its virtue.”

-Plato

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

-Aldous Huxley

“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”

-Lao Tzu

“You are the music while the music lasts.”

-T. S. Elliot

“Music is well said to be the speech of angels.”

-Thomas Carlyle

Excerpt from RW Emerson’s Representative Men, Goethe

“An intellectual man can see himself as a third person; therefore his faults and delusions interest him equally with his successes. Though he wishes to prosper in affairs, he wishes more to know the history and destiny of man; whilst the clouds of egotists drifting about him are only interested in a low success.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Psychic Forces

Merriam Webster Dictionary Definition(s): 

Psyche

*Personification of the Soul (Psyche was the most beautiful women in the world, making Venus jealous in Greek and Roman mythology).  

*Second definition: Human Soul, Mind, Spirit

*Psychology, Psychoanalysis. the mental or psychological structure of a person, especially as a motive force. (lower case psyche).

My Definition of the Psyche

The Psyche is the Self.  Who a person is, in terms of being human and possessing human sentient consciousness.  The Self then, mediates the antithetical forces that arise from our physical need to survive (The External Adaptive Instinct (Force)), and the Force of the Spirit or Soul that is endowed us from our higher consciousness (The Internal Creative Force).

The Forces that Flow through the Psyche:

The drive to maintain physical survival is a strong instinct in all higher animals.  We humans are also animals, and our survival instinct can be a very powerful influence on our lives.  If we did not possess such an instinct, our irrationalities and emotions would have done our species in long ago.  Conversely, if we were merely moody cognitively superior hairless bipeds, what would motivate us to gain knowledge, awareness, and to grow?  

The human condition places us at the junction between the physical and spiritual planes of existence, and as a result we are both blessed with and cursed by our seemingly paradoxical position in the universe.

The External Adaptive Instinct:

This instinct fuels our physical survival and provides us a motivation for survival preferentially to others.  If the choice is my or your survival, I’m living and you’re dying!  This insures the propagation of physically and mentally stronger gene pools and increases the whole species odds of survival and propagation.  The survival of the fittest doctrine, applies here perfectly and follows the same lines of reasoning.  The Alpha male is allowed his choice of sexual partners and is given the best and most food provisions, as long as he can maintain his physical superiority.  This instinct can be brutally applied in real life, but without a beating heart, our life experience ends.

The Internal Creative Force: 

To be human is to create, to imagine the possibilities, to be curious and to reach beyond what we thought we knew or thought possible.  This Force inspires us and fills us with hope, spiritual love and gives us a meaning for existence.  We are all unique expressions, and as such, yearn to express the gifts, the art that has been given to us to paint.  We all possess are own form of genius, that only we can contribute to the world, and this is the force that provides the angst for us to express it.  When we connect with our individual expression, we become transfixed in a flow or meditative state.  No will or discipline is required to express as we were truly intended, in fact the action feeds our spirit and inspires and motivates us, and those around us.  This is the eternal essence flowing through us and its energy is of infinite supply.