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)


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.


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


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


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

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