Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

So Spinoza is making me think about some things. . .

He has some really good points! He says time is an illusion caused by our limited perception, and that if we understand that the grand, timeless scope of the universe is good, and that we are all united in this good, then we can take comfort in that. History has shown that we can't change what happens to us, not to any remarkable degree, but we can endure — no, we can flourish — once we accept the reasonable, intellectual love of his all-permeating God.

(That's what I think he says, anyhow. It's a bit dense and I'm open to being corrected.)


Here is the part that troubles me. It may be that certain things are beyond my comprehension and I don't know what's best for me, but I'm not about to stake everything on that possibility. Taken too far, this philosophy ceases to work for people. And working for people is what I think is the most important hallmark for a philosophy.

Because listen. I'm people. You're people. Philosophers are people. And to the aliens and artificial superintelligences reading this, you're people too. I don't discriminate. The scope of reasoning for mortal, conscious beings is limited, I won't deny it! But even allowing for some cosmic greater good, any system that doesn't acknowledge a negative impact on people as something to be taken seriously and actively reduced is a flawed one in my mind. It just doesn't work for people.

Now, I don't think Spinoza goes that far. Russell is sure to note that, under Spinoza's ethics, one should try to decrease personal suffering. It's a philosophy of acceptance to secure happiness, and it seems to have worked for its creator quite well. If this idea gives you comfort, it isn't my aim to dismantle that. All I really want to say is, I could see his philosophy being very easily misunderstood. We shouldn't excuse certain things. Spinoza spurned the passions, as they reflected passivity and bondage. We can be enlightened and forgiving and still be active in reducing the suffering of the world. In working to everyone's betterment, cosmically and locally, just in case. And that can only be a good.


  1. If everyone where to forgive everyone without question (which I am not saying is wrong) then how would people as a whole feel sorrow.

  2. (H01) I feel like if we were simply to forgive everyone in order to rid us of suffering, would we not be opening the door to more suffering? If we never tried to put a stop to the things occurring to us, would we ever see it cease to exist? I like this philosophy on the grander side of things, as in policy change in a country or societal change on the world, but at a smaller local level, it seems difficult to allow this philosophy to permeate the minds. I really feel like you are on the same route on this and it's just hard to imagine it in our times. I'm sure back then it was wonderful.