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autophoron
17-04-2005, 01:10 AM
K-punk and all.

I've been wrestling with Spinoza as of late and cannot escape the sense that there are strong Transcendentalist (really Plotinus-like) tendencies within him. If I could put it in short, his Natura naturans "naturing Nature" is a synchrony and his Natura naturata appears a diachrony. Given the reputation for a non-transcendental stance, am I wrong in finding this to be? Pervading his work seems to be both a historical unfolding of the modes and an end-of-time redemption. Is it that Deleuze has simply discarded the one half dimension of his work?



in thanks, autophoron

k-punk
17-04-2005, 11:42 AM
K-punk and all.

I've been wrestling with Spinoza as of late and cannot escape the sense that there are strong Transcendentalist (really Plotinus-like) tendencies within him. If I could put it in short, his Natura naturans "naturing Nature" is a synchrony and his Natura naturata appears a diachrony. Given the reputation for a non-transcendental stance, am I wrong in finding this to be? Pervading his work seems to be both a historical unfolding of the modes and an end-of-time redemption. Is it that Deleuze has simply discarded the one half dimension of his work?



in thanks, autophoron


Do you mean 'transcendental' or 'transcendent'?

Natured nature = nature 'as we see it', naturing nature = the abstract 'grid' out of which that nature is produced, i.e. the principles etc

There is no redemption in Spinoza... those capable of freedom will learn to attune themselves to God, i.e. will manage to escape identification with their own interests and achieve impassivity and indifference (intellectual love of God); the others won't. This isn't co-ordinated to an 'end of history' or time of judgement (Spinoza's impersonal God CANNOT judge). Why do you see evidence of end-of-time redemption in Spinoza?

Deleuze ignores much about Spinoza (his non-vitalism for instance), but he isn't misleading about Spinoza's radical immanence.

autophoron
17-04-2005, 04:14 PM
K-punk,


I mean transcendental in the Plotinus sense. I agree that there is no end-of-time judgment of god, but there does seem to be the sense of an end-of-time synchronism, for instance in his use of intuition to know "under the form of eternity". It is as if the fragmented diachrony that unfolds temporally is then justified by an over-arching structuring to be known when the last note has been played.

Take for instance this passage from The Ethics, where the intelligent man consigns himself to the "necessary", in "contravention to the claims of [his] own advantage" and in such surrender will "endeavor to persist". In the mouth of another this would simply be called a transcendent act of faith not unlike any "true believer" who commends a personal will to a larger One. This is the quintessential putting oneself in the hands of God.



Ethics Part IV Appendix xxxii,

"But human power is extremely limited, and is infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes; we have not, therefore, an absolute power of shaping to our use those things which are without us. Nevertheless, we shall bear with an equal mind all that happens to us in contravention to the claims of our own advantage, so long as we are conscious, that we have done our duty, and that the power which we possess is not sufficient to enable us to protect ourselves completely; remembering that we are a part of universal nature, and that we follow her order. If we have a clear and distinct understanding of this, that part of our nature which is defined by intelligence, in other words the better part of ourselves, will assuredly acquiesce in what befalls us, and in such acquiescence will endeavor to persist. For, in so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true: wherefore, in so far as we have a right understanding of these things, the endeavor of the better part of ourselves is in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.




in thanks, autophoron

k-punk
17-04-2005, 11:40 PM
I don't know anything about Plotinus to be honest, can you tell me more? (My understanding is that it was Kan t who invented the term 'transcendental' --- certainly the concept as now understood in philosophy is his).

Eternity isn't in time, it can never be met in duration...

Seeing yourself under the aspect of eternity is simpy seeing yourself as a sequence of cause and effects that necessarily follow...Lived duration produces the illusion that your actions emerge 'spontaneously'... The apparent paradox is that you can only attain freedom by recognizing Necessity... i.e. the chain of causastion in which you are inserted/ which you ARE...

Surely the point of the passages you cite is that there is no space nor need for faith in that trad theistic sense: you only need intellectual understanding of the principles by which nature operates....

autophoron
18-04-2005, 02:14 AM
K-punk,



" you only need intellectual understanding of the principles by which nature operates...."

But what is germane is that one is to follow that understanding "against the claims of our own advantage" in order for our better half to persist in existing. This is not throwing oneself in the maelstrom (or machine-like progress) of effects, only to be churned into nothing, but is the endeavor to persist, against even the logic of our claims, that lead us to such a precipice. But the step forward becomes a leap of faith.

Plotinus was the apex of Neo-Platonism, whose master work The Enneads resembles some, in my mind, the effort of The Ethics. It was Augustine though who brought Plotinus to bear upon Western Philosophy. Plotinus conceived the world to have come from the "One", which is the foundation (arke) and place (topos) of all existence; the One out of its excess produced the Nous (Mind), which established the division "same" and "different". The soul has a higher part "intelligence" and a lower part. Matter is the least "real" of things, only a mere shadow of the One. Guided by the Mind, and intelligence's use of "seed thoughts" we are able to ascend to greater and greater Being, the higher part of us being reintegrated into the One. By transcendental I simply mean a universe wherein the "spiritual" transcends over the "material" and "empirical". Spinoza may very well be a forerunner of Kant in this (their alignment of the ethical with reason suggest at least this much), but the position goes as far back and Plato's theory of forms.

To see the connection to Plotinus perhaps consider Augustine's position regarding epistemology:

"Since, therefore, I would have to exist even if I were mistaken, it is beyond doubt that I am not mistaken in knowing that I exist. And, consequently, neither am I mistaken in knowing that I know. For, just as I know that I exist, so also do I know that I know. And when I love these two things, I add to my love to them as a third thing, no smaller in esteem than the things that I know. Nor am I mistaken in saying that I love, for I am not mistaken in knowing that I love that things that I love. Even if those things were false, it would still be true that I loved false things;”

City of God, book XI, chapt. 26

Like Spinoza, it is the endeavor to persist, the loving of existence (in Spinoza the conatus), that leads one to the "knowing" that is essentially "spiritual", that of essences. The lower position of empirical knowledge on the ladder of knowing reflects this in both Augustine and Spinoza. The intuition "under a form of eternity", is more than the ratiocination that you suggest, for it is literally outside time, a position of which is posited by its very form. By intuiting that form, the better part of man partakes in it.

You can see the progression into a near pantheism developing in chapter 27


“Do not even all the irrational animals, to whom the power of thought is not given, from immense dragons down to smallest worms, all show that they desire to exist, and therefore avoid death by every movement that they can make? What? Do not the very trees and bushes, even though they cannot avoid destruction by means of perceptible movements, all seek to preserve their existence in their own fashion, by putting down roots into the earth so that they may draw nourishment from it and put forth branches into the air? Finally, even those corporeal objects which have neither sensation nor any seed of life nonetheless either spring upwards or sink downwards or are balanced in the middle, so that they preserve their existence in that place where they are most able to according to their nature.”

And then continued in chapter 28,

“If we were stones or waves or wind or flames or anything of that kind, we should, indeed, be without both sensation and life, but we should still not lack a kind of desire for our own proper place and order. For the weight of bodies is, as it were, their love, whether they are carried downwards or upwards by their lightness. For the body is carried by its weight wherever it is carried, just as the soul is carried by its love.”


This is ultimately very close to the Spinozian position, where the necessity of causes and effects reflect an order that is filled with knowing as a preservation of power and will. Only this was written 1200 years before. If you examine the stance of Tomasso Campanella, who was following Augustine on this, written but a few decades before Spinoza (and read by Descartes), the transcendental pantheism is there,


"the world is shown to be a living and truly conscious image of God and all its parts and details to be endowed with sense and perception, some more clearly, some more obscurely, to an extent sufficient for their preservation and that of the entirety in which they share sensation”.

Del Senso


I am unsure if the lineage of this thinking came via Augustine, or via a connection to the Kabbalah (whose Neo-Platonism if evident and which Spinoza had some contact with), but it is striking. Spinoza nearly positions himself as a Gnostic, where in place of divinely revealed knowledge, he places a rather Platonic intuition of under a form of eternity. His emphasis on the salvation of such knowing, even when forces are beyond our control and "against the claims of our advantage", puts him not far from even the Gnostic Valentinus (quoted by Irenaeus),

"Perfect redemption is the cognition itself of the ineffable greatness: for since through ignorance came about the defect . . . the whole system springing from ignorance is dissolved in Gnosis. Therefore Gnosis is the redemption of the inner man; and it is not of the body, for the body is corruptible; nor is it psychical, for even the soul is a product of the defect and it is a lodging to the spirit: pneumatic (spiritual) therefore also must be redemption itself. Through Gnosis, then, is redeemed the inner, spiritual man: so that to us suffices the Gnosis of universal being: and this is the true redemption. (Adv. Haer. I. 21,4)"


Spinoza is transcendental is the sense that Spiritual or Noetic truth, (even if that be only that God is an infinite substance and the axioms that follow), driven by each individual's unquenchable desire to persist, leads to the surpassing of empirical knowing and a union with God/the One, in which the better part of us endeavors to persist. It is the persistence through the highest "knowing" that marks him at least in part, a transcendentalist.


“…yet we feel that our mind, in so far as it involves the essence of the body, under the form of eternity, is eternal, and that thus its existence cannot be defined in terms of time, or explained through duration.”

-Part V, prop xxiii note




in thanks, autophoron

johneffay
18-04-2005, 11:29 AM
By transcendental I simply mean a universe wherein the "spiritual" transcends over the "material" and "empirical".
I'm not at all sure why you would want to say this of Spinoza. Given the immanence of Substance and the parallelism of the attributes, there is no 'spiritual' as such. The two adequate types of knowledge in Spinoza may be different ways of acquiring knowledge (i.e. the application of reason or intuition, the nature of which we could probably argue about all day but it isn't germane to my point), but they both yield the same knowledge. This is not at all the same as the three ascending hypostases of Plotinus which, as I understand it, actually constitute differing levels of reality. Substance is absolutely not the One and Spinoza famously scorns Plato in Letter 56.



Like Spinoza, it is the endeavor to persist, the loving of existence (in Spinoza the conatus), that leads one to the "knowing" that is essentially "spiritual", that of essences.
There is an argument to be had here about the conatus: Whilst it may well be a term hauled from Scholasticism where it is usually correctly interpreted as some sort of drive, it is not at all apparent that this is the case in Spinoza; a philosopher who radically reconfigured much of the Scholastic terminology which he approriated ('Deus' being the prime example). Consequently, the translation of 'conatus' as 'endeavour' or 'strive' can be very misleading. The keypoint here is that, for Spinoza, positive and negative affects are always the result of external relations, i.e. the interaction of the finite modes. This would indicate that the conatus, far from being a drive, is simply a descriptive marker for the stable state of a finite mode. This is very different to your quote from Augustine: For Spinoza, a stone moves because it is pushed not because it is carried by its weight. Likewise, left to their own devices things simply persist. Admittedly this is not possible in reality because modes are always interacting; so we need to eat because stuff wears us out, not because we have an essential drive to preserve ourselves. This is made most apparent in Book IV when he talks about a man (and therefore that man's conatus) altering so much that he is no longer the same man.

Harking back to your original question, Mark is corect about the distinction between eternity and duration negating the possibility of an end-of-time redemption, so Deleuze certainly hasn't discarded that. Deleuze discards God, which may or may not be a good thing depending upon your perspective.

What do you mean by a 'historical unfolding of the modes'? If you mean that there is the possibility of development over duration, that is certainly correct. If you mean there is some sort of hard teleology at work, I don't see any evidence for it.

k-punk
18-04-2005, 02:12 PM
Yes, I can only reinforce what John says.

It's important not to collapse Spinoza into a familiar dualism ---- Augustine thinks that the escape is from matter into spirit... This doesn't make any sense for Spinoza, who is a monist. There is only ONE substance --- mind and matter are parallel not opposed to one another ---

The relevant opposition is not between mind and matter but between passivity and activity --- even this is not really an opposition, it is a continuum with varying degrees ---- moreover activity is not to be equated with 'doing things', since too often this amounts to a reactive agitation, a response to previous stimuli encrusted into the body as 'images' which screen out the possibility of engagement with the Now...

escape is not out of the body but into a body attuned to God = unplugged from organic animal interestedness ---- Intellectual love of God is a kind of 'practical intellection', in which the body is attuned - via the use of reason - to the flatline that is the impersonal, indifferent Deus.

Essence for Spinoza has to be understood analytically. Think of it this way: what are you? From the point of view of 'lived duration', i.e. phenomenologically, you are a series of unresolved choices and contingencies. But under the aspect of eternity, you appear as a series of strictly necessitated logical entailments. The paradox is that it is only by attaining the perspective of eternity that you can attain freedom. But such freedom will have always been inscribed in your essence if you are destined to have it.

autophoron
18-04-2005, 04:34 PM
J.,



“I'm not at all sure why you would want to say this of Spinoza. Given the immanence of Substance and the parallelism of the attributes, there is no 'spiritual' as such.”

I agree, Spinoza has a tremendous reputation for a non-transcendent approach, but what I suggest is simply that he is not consistent and in fact in his theory ideas are in tension. (For instance the outright contradictions regarding personal immortality in Part V, prop xxiii, which Scholars are still arguing over for even the simplest of meanings). In many ways Spinoza has been taken up by modern thinkers in order to deny transcendence, and in so doing, I believe they homogenize an inherent tension in his thinking).


The two adequate types of knowledge in Spinoza may be different ways of acquiring knowledge (i.e. the application of reason or intuition, the nature of which we could probably argue about all day but it isn't germane to my point), but they both yield the same knowledge.

They make use of the same knowledge, but do not yield the same knowledge. The use of reason only yields knowledge to the degree which it accesses adequate ideas, but intuition is the only thing that yields knowledge in its complete form. For instance, Part IV, p1.To follow your thinking empirical knowledge would yield the same knowledge as intuition, which for Spinoza clearly is not the case.

“This is not at all the same as the three ascending hypostases of Plotinus which, as I understand it, actually constitute differing levels of reality.”

This too seems the case with Spinoza wherein there are also gradations of Being.

The existence of God and his essence are one and the same. Part I prop xx

If a thing can be conceived as not existing, its essence does not involve existence. Part axiom vii.

The essence/existence of God works in the same fashion as Plotinus’ One, in that its essence and existence correspond. In discerning Spinoza one has to distinguish between the confused states in time, where essence and existence seem to part, and the coincidence of essence and existence sub specie aeternitatis. The propensity to read Spinoza as a non-transcendent thinker attempts to collapse this dimension into immanence, but like in Plotinus, this would simply be the view from within Time.

Substance is absolutely not the One

In many ways it acts much like the One. For instance it is called the “topos” of the world. This idea is also found in Talmudic-Midrashic literature, possibly derived from the Neo-Platonist Philo,
commenting on Gen. xxviii. 11 says, "God is called 'ha makom' (המקום "the place") because God encloses the universe, but is Himself not enclosed by anything" ("De Somniis," i. 11).

And idea that Spinoza repeated in saying that the Jews did not separate God from the world.

“and Spinoza famously scorns Plato in Letter 56.”

He does not seem to scorn Plato, as Plato, but Plato as an authority due only to his antiquity and in also specific reference to the belief in ghosts. His list of the scorned includes Aristotle and Socrates, and is in response a Hugo’s reference to “all the Stoics, Pythagorians, Platonists, Empedocles, Maximus Tyrius, Apuleius and others”. His quarrel is particularly with occult and “intentional species”, not something that plays a part in Plotinus.


“There is an argument to be had here about the conatus: Whilst it may well be a term hauled from Scholasticism where it is usually correctly interpreted as some sort of drive, it is not at all apparent that this is the case in Spinoza; a philosopher who radically reconfigured much of the Scholastic terminology which he approriated ('Deus' being the prime example).”

While he appropriated terms he used them with the force that they held. The Deus of your example is such an instance. He repeatedly denied his atheism via this word and was not playing word games. He saw his philosophy as a “true religion”, one in which God was loved in a free spirit.

“Consequently, the translation of 'conatus' as 'endeavour' or 'strive' can be very misleading.”

Misleading perhaps, or as Spinoza would suggest, confused. But the ‘impulse’ of the conatus does not seem to me separable from Augustine’s love of the knowing of existence, in fact it works in much of the same fashion. In both Ontology leads to Eudaimonia through it.

“The keypoint here is that, for Spinoza, positive and negative affects are always the result of external relations, i.e. the interaction of the finite modes.”

This may be the key point for you, but this is only to see thing from the diachrony, which inherently is the state of confused and inadequate ideas. Permeating the diachrony is the synchrony of essences, such that the conatus, through intuition, can achieve a degree of relative “freedom” or “activity”. It is the conatus, in seeking to become more active, seeking to persist, that discovers the power of adequate thoughts.

This would indicate that the conatus, far from being a drive, is simply a descriptive marker for the stable state of a finite mode.

If this were so, I would agree. But Spinoza lays great emphasis on the will to persist. See in particular the central role it plays in the first quote I gave (Ethics Part IV Appendix xxxii). More than a marker, it becomes an engine, central to the progress from passive to active states. The unhappiness and impotence of inadequate ideas are the very things that, given the impulse of the conatus, lead to adequate ideas. If there were no drive to power there would be no ascension of knowledge (and there is an ascension of knowledge in Spinoza).

“This is very different to your quote from Augustine: For Spinoza, a stone moves because it is pushed not because it is carried by its weight.”

Each would agree that the stone is carried by its essence in relation to other essences. To see the stone as simply pushed would for Spinoza be an inadequate, fragmented idea. It's movement is the sum of an infinite set of relations.

“Likewise, left to their own devices things simply persist. Admittedly this is not possible in reality because modes are always interacting; so we need to eat because stuff wears us out, not because we have an essential drive to preserve ourselves.”

It is man’s presence in the diachrony and his will to persist that leads him from inadequate to adequate ideas, which essentially is the move from the diachrony to the synchrony. This fundamental themes is the structure of Augustine’s (and Plotinus’) progression of Being.

This is made most apparent in Book IV when he talks about a man (and therefore that man's conatus) altering so much that he is no longer the same man.

Harking back to your original question, Mark is corect about the distinction between eternity and duration negating the possibility of an end-of-time redemption,

The end-of-time redemption is posited simply by bringing eternity into the fray and marking adequate ideas as intuitions of that form. The intuition of essences is a primary hurdle for anyone who wishes to collapse Spinoza into pure diachrony. The key to Spinoza seems rather to be that he makes something of a report on Eternity from the point of view of fragmented Time.

so Deleuze certainly hasn't discarded that. Deleuze discards God, which may or may not be a good thing depending upon your perspective.

What do you mean by a 'historical unfolding of the modes'? If you mean that there is the possibility of development over duration, that is certainly correct. If you mean there is some sort of hard teleology at work, I don't see any evidence for it.

It is not a hard teleology, but it is more an interpenetration of the One. Think of it in terms of music. In a playing of notes, single notes may appear to be in harmony with the melody, and certain notes are not. This would be the diachrony. As the music unfolds, notes that at the time of their playing appeared dissonant are recaptured by higher patterns which integrate them into the scheme. When the last note has been played, one realizes that there have been no false notes. Spinoza’s view is that there are no false notes, but there are notes that can and will seem to break the harmony of our particular line of music. But our conatus with the aid of adequate ideas allows us to see the music that contextualizes us, such that there are no false notes. Fundamentally this is a faith, for we can never hear the end of notes, but under the form of eternity, all notes find their place. A teleos implies the goal of a last note. A last note only completes the eternal form, but the teleos is found in all of its moments. Like in music, the relationship between notes is immanent, but adequate ideas reveal the structure of the whole, outside of a particular moment in Time.

I suspect that Spinoza was attempting a fusion of the diachrony with an imagined synchrony, probably reflecting Kabbalah ideas of the fallen world, where the En Sof (One) has broken into the manifest sefirot. While rejecting the occult aspects of the Kabbalah, he seems to have retained its fundamental structure. Our fragmented existence is but a poor reflection of the One. Our existence is an immanent one, where the “end” is ever present and occurring, yet also exists outside of Time. The desire for modern interpreters to use Spinoza as a non-transcendent thinker is to homogenize the tension which produced his work. He was a devout secularist. To remove the “devout” is in the end to misread “secularist” I believe.



in thanks, autophoron

autophoron
18-04-2005, 04:54 PM
K-punk,


Yes, I can only reinforce what John says.

It's important not to collapse Spinoza into a familiar dualism ---- Augustine thinks that the escape is from matter into spirit...

Actually in following Plotinus, it is not a strict dualism, but rather a gradation of Being. Like Spinoza, Augustine does not posit Evil as having being, but rather the privation of the Good. Spinoza makes the same point regarding false ideas (Part IV, prop i). So instead of two realms set in opposition, it is a single realm interpenetrated by and gradated in terms of Being. In Spinoza this manifests itself along the dimension of active and passive states, reflected in adequate ideas. Adequate ideas is simply a laddering up from the fragmented and confused into the whole. This follows Augustine and Plotinus closely. Both find empirical knowledge inferior for this reason.

This doesn't make any sense for Spinoza, who is a monist. There is only ONE substance --- mind and matter are parallel not opposed to one another ---

The relevant opposition is not between mind and matter but between passivity and activity --- even this is not really an opposition, it is a continuum with varying degrees

As said Augustine is not a dualist in the terms you suggest. He follows this same kind of thinking in terms of degrees of knowing and power. It is the degrees of Being which join these two trends of thought.


---- moreover activity is not to be equated with 'doing things', since too often this amounts to a reactive agitation, a response to previous stimuli encrusted into the body as 'images' which screen out the possibility of engagement with the Now...

escape is not out of the body but into a body attuned to God = unplugged from organic animal interestedness ---- Intellectual love of God is a kind of 'practical intellection', in which the body is attuned - via the use of reason - to the flatline that is the impersonal, indifferent Deus.

I think much of this is in concert with Augustine who is concerned with the passage from the passive (passions) to the active. Only the utterly impersonal God is missing, replaced by the inconceivable God. Plotinus retains the impersonal One.

Essence for Spinoza has to be understood analytically. Think of it this way: what are you? From the point of view of 'lived duration', i.e. phenomenologically, you are a series of unresolved choices and contingencies. But under the aspect of eternity, you appear as a series of strictly necessitated logical entailments.

It is to be understood intuitionally. Analysis only gives us a fragmented picture of it. The contrast you present between “phenomenological”, “lived duration” and that of essence and eternity, though accessible through analysis, is more than that.

The paradox is that it is only by attaining the perspective of eternity that you can attain freedom. But such freedom will have always been inscribed in your essence if you are destined to have it.

Yes, I completely agree.



in thanks, autophoron

k-punk
18-04-2005, 06:10 PM
Yes, I can only reinforce what John says.

It's important not to collapse Spinoza into a familiar dualism ---- Augustine thinks that the escape is from matter into spirit...

Actually in following Plotinus, it is not a strict dualism, but rather a gradation of Being. Like Spinoza, Augustine does not posit Evil as having being, but rather the privation of the Good. Spinoza makes the same point regarding false ideas (Part IV, prop i). So instead of two realms set in opposition, it is a single realm interpenetrated by and gradated in terms of Being. In Spinoza this manifests itself along the dimension of active and passive states, reflected in adequate ideas. Adequate ideas is simply a laddering up from the fragmented and confused into the whole. This follows Augustine and Plotinus closely. Both find empirical knowledge inferior for this reason.

Yes, Augustine tooks about the Greater and the Lesser Good --- his problem is to see off the Manicheans, who maintained that good and evil were equal and opposite. In THAT respect, Augustine is not a dualist; but, unlike Spinoza, he remains a SUBSTANCE dualist in that he thinks that body and soul are separate.


This doesn't make any sense for Spinoza, who is a monist. There is only ONE substance --- mind and matter are parallel not opposed to one another ---

The relevant opposition is not between mind and matter but between passivity and activity --- even this is not really an opposition, it is a continuum with varying degrees

As said Augustine is not a dualist in the terms you suggest. He follows this same kind of thinking in terms of degrees of knowing and power. It is the degrees of Being which join these two trends of thought.

As I established above, you can only make that move by equivocating on the meaning of dualism.



---- moreover activity is not to be equated with 'doing things', since too often this amounts to a reactive agitation, a response to previous stimuli encrusted into the body as 'images' which screen out the possibility of engagement with the Now...

escape is not out of the body but into a body attuned to God = unplugged from organic animal interestedness ---- Intellectual love of God is a kind of 'practical intellection', in which the body is attuned - via the use of reason - to the flatline that is the impersonal, indifferent Deus.

I think much of this is in concert with Augustine who is concerned with the passage from the passive (passions) to the active. Only the utterly impersonal God is missing, replaced by the inconceivable God. Plotinus retains the impersonal One.

'Only the utterly impersonal God is missing, replaced by the inconceivable God.' Quite a big gap I would have thought, that.



Essence for Spinoza has to be understood analytically. Think of it this way: what are you? From the point of view of 'lived duration', i.e. phenomenologically, you are a series of unresolved choices and contingencies. But under the aspect of eternity, you appear as a series of strictly necessitated logical entailments.

It is to be understood intuitionally. Analysis only gives us a fragmented picture of it. The contrast you present between “phenomenological”, “lived duration” and that of essence and eternity, though accessible through analysis, is more than that.

I meant analytic as opposed to synthetic. i.e. what you do is part of what you are - there is no 'you' that does x and y, x and y are part of your essence in the same way that having internal angles adding up to 180 degrees is part of the essence of a triangle.

autophoron
18-04-2005, 08:36 PM
K-punk,


Yes, Augustine tooks about the Greater and the Lesser Good --- his problem is to see off the Manicheans, who maintained that good and evil were equal and opposite. In THAT respect, Augustine is not a dualist; but, unlike Spinoza, he remains a SUBSTANCE dualist in that he thinks that body and soul are separate.

That Augustine sees Evil as the privation of the Good and Spinoza sees false ideas as the privation of knowledge places these two on equivalent terms. The pursuit of the “good” and “knowledge”, driven by the urge to persist, is in each. In each, ontology, via epistemology and Will leads to Eudaimonia.

Spinoza is inconsistent as he vacillates between pure Being and Becoming. The is the conundrum passed down from Parmenides on. The God of Spinoza is the equivalent of the Parmenidean One, but whereas Parmenides takes the position of the illusion regarding all change, if one is going to take in account our actual experience, one has to adopt a position of Becoming in tension with Being. In order to do so, gradations of Being are used. In Augustine and Spinoza these gradations lie upon epistemological and existential lines.

Take for instance his:

“…an idea (since it is a mode of thinking) consists neither in the image of anything, nor in words. For the essence of words and of images is constituted by corporeal motion, which do not involve the concept of thought.”

Part II p 49

This is, in terms of epistemology, rather dualistic in thinking, where words because they are constituted by corporeal motion, are somehow less real, less accurate. He is verging on outright dualism, in contrast to his essential monist principle of,

“The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things II p 7, note: ...a mode of extension and the idea of that mode are one and the same thing, though expressed in two ways.”

where anything in extension, including corporeal motion itself, is also expressed as an idea at the same time. There is no reason why a word or image derived from extension, one attribute of God, would be inferior to that derived from thought, the other attribute of God, unless there is a functional heirarchy. He creates a nether world, between that of extension and the idea, where the two become confused. What he has difficulty with is the fallen state of the world and the limited view of the observer being consubstantial with the One. We are caught in a state of Becoming, but beyond becoming is Being. The greater activity we have the more we have become. In this way Spinoza approaches Campanella’s “to know is to be”.


'Only the utterly impersonal God is missing, replaced by the inconceivable God.' Quite a big gap I would have thought, that.

Not really a big gap at all, considering that Augustine is following Plotinus who maintains the Impersonal One. An inconceivable God is not far from this, because in Augustine, God’s triune state of Existence, Knowing and Love comprises the very universe in all its states, immanent along a sliding scale of Being.

I meant analytic as opposed to synthetic. i.e. what you do is part of what you are - there is no 'you' that does x and y, x and y are part of your essence in the same way that having internal angles adding up to 180 degrees is part of the essence of a triangle.

Yes, Spinoza has the marvelous metaphor of the all the rectangles that are contained within a circle, only some of which may be said to “exist” at any one period in time.


What is difficult is that the form of eternity provides a kind of overarching Ideology, a form under which all things find their place. This can be seen in his treatment of Good and Evil. Famously he says that nothing is Good or Evil in its own right, but then structures his entire Ethics as an ethics, where the Good of the love of God, necessity and truth, the love of one’s neighbor becomes a categorical Good. So while he expounds a beautiful revelativism of effects regarding our “fallen” state, of a state of inadequate ideas, where nothing is inherently Good or Evil, this fallen state occurs within the context of adequate ideas, to which our desire to persist and hence become active, will lead us. The horizontal relations of effects is transpierced by a directional becoming, a moving towards pure activity and knowing/power.




in thanks, autophoron

johneffay
18-04-2005, 09:31 PM
I agree, Spinoza has a tremendous reputation for a non-transcendent approach, but what I suggest is simply that he is not consistent and in fact in his theory ideas are in tension. (For instance the outright contradictions regarding personal immortality in Part V, prop xxiii, which Scholars are still arguing over for even the simplest of meanings). In many ways Spinoza has been taken up by modern thinkers in order to deny transcendence, and in so doing, I believe they homogenize an inherent tension in his thinking).

I wouldn't quibble with this; if it were not the case, philosophy would have ended with Spinoza. The question is whether modern thinkers are correct to deny transcendence in Spinoza's philosophical project as opposed to the system as it stands, and so what you call homogenizing is actually a series of attempts to get the thing to work properly. I think that this is what is going on with Deleuze. amongst others; I don't think that it is ultimately successful.

I don't think that Spinoza deliberately appeals to transcendent elements. To leap straight to a point you make at the end of your post, I’m not at all convinced that what you are calling the synchrony is transcendent in relation to the diachrony; in fact I think that the way Spinoza sets up his ontology in Book I necessarily precludes this.

This:

He was a devout secularist. To remove the “devout” is in the end to misread “secularist” I believe.
I absolutely agree with, but would suggest that the genius of Spinoza is his demonstration of an immanent universe which is still worthy of devotion.



They make use of the same knowledge, but do not yield the same knowledge. The use of reason only yields knowledge to the degree which it accesses adequate ideas, but intuition is the only thing that yields knowledge in its complete form. For instance, Part IV, p1.To follow your thinking empirical knowledge would yield the same knowledge as intuition, which for Spinoza clearly is not the case.
Spinoza is not an empiricist and knowledge of the second kind is not empirical knowledge. An adequate idea is the same whether it is grasped via reason or intuition. Reason can and does yield knowledge in its complete form.


He does not seem to scorn Plato, as Plato, but Plato as an authority due only to his antiquity and in also specific reference to the belief in ghosts. His list of the scorned includes Aristotle and Socrates, and is in response a Hugo’s reference to “all the Stoics, Pythagorians, Platonists, Empedocles, Maximus Tyrius, Apuleius and others”. His quarrel is particularly with occult and “intentional species”, not something that plays a part in Plotinus.
The passage is usually taken to be indicative of his general attitude towards Plato, Aristotle, etc. as attested to by contemporary accounts of him. He certainly had a massive problem with Platonic universals as he understood them.


While he appropriated terms he used them with the force that they held. The Deus of your example is such an instance. He repeatedly denied his atheism via this word and was not playing word games. He saw his philosophy as a “true religion”, one in which God was loved in a free spirit.
I don't disagree but surely you're not suggesting that he has not reconfigured 'God' to an enormous extent? Not to mention Substance, etc.


This may be the key point for you, but this is only to see thing from the diachrony, which inherently is the state of confused and inadequate ideas.

I may be misunderstanding what you are mapping diachrony onto in Spinoza. I assume that you are talking about existence in duration. If that is so, particular adequate ideas are perfectly possible and achievable in the diachrony. However I'm not sure how this flushes with your music example where you say that the notes appear to be out of harmony until you have heard the structure of the whole piece. For Spinoza, there are necessarily inadequate ideas, hence the claim that the imagination is a necessary source of error, which will never appear to be harmony simply because they are not a correct 'perception' of the structure.


It is the conatus, in seeking to become more active, seeking to persist, that discovers the power of adequate thoughts.
You make the conatus sound like a form of agency; do you really mean this?


This would indicate that the conatus, far from being a drive, is simply a descriptive marker for the stable state of a finite mode.

If this were so, I would agree. But Spinoza lays great emphasis on the will to persist.
He also lays great emphasis on the fact that persistence is achievable by doing nothing unless something is wearing the conatus away from outside. Witness the discussion of suicide in Book IV.


More than a marker, it becomes an engine, central to the progress from passive to active states. The unhappiness and impotence of inadequate ideas are the very things that, given the impulse of the conatus, lead to adequate ideas. If there were no drive to power there would be no ascension of knowledge (and there is an ascension of knowledge in Spinoza).

I think that Hegel is correct when he says that one of the problems with Spinoza is that there is no such engine. I don't see how you can get round the fact that all finite modes possess a conatus but there seems to be no indication that there is an ascension of knowledge in the stone which thinks, but does not seem to either reason or intuit. I know that some commentators (e.g. Curley) posit a difference in kind between the human conatus and all others, but I can find no evidence for this and suggest that Spinoza's attack upon universals implies the opposite.


To see the stone as simply pushed would for Spinoza be an inadequate, fragmented idea. It's movement is the sum of an infinite set of relations.
True, but all these relations are external to the stone.

Cheers

effay

autophoron
18-04-2005, 11:25 PM
J.,


“Spinoza is not an empiricist and knowledge of the second kind is not empirical knowledge. An adequate idea is the same whether it is grasped via reason or intuition. Reason can and does yield knowledge in its complete form.”

I did not mean to imply that empirical knowledge is of the 2nd order, but only that by equating the 2nd and the 3rd you are loosing the distinction he is making. The complete form of knowledge is understood in the 3rd but reflected in both the 1st and the 2nd.

“The passage is usually taken to be indicative of his general attitude towards Plato, Aristotle, etc. as attested to by contemporary accounts of him. He certainly had a massive problem with Platonic universals as he understood them.”

Being rather Spinozian, “how [something] is usually taken” means very little to me. The passage is exceedingly brief and certainly not directed towards Plato. By my reading his cackles are raised by the scripture-like reverence paid to the philosophers of antiquity. I would be very interested in a primary source regarding his “massive” problem with Platonic universals.

“I don't disagree but surely you're not suggesting that he has not reconfigured 'God' to an enormous extent? Not to mention Substance, etc.”

He certainly de-anthropomorphized God, but is nowhere near the first to do so. The Pre-Socratics, Jewish Kabbalah tradition, Neo-Platonism, Medieval mysticism all share a non-anthropomorphic universalizing God. In my mind he worked from that tradition, only applying noetic-rationalism (a privileging of the Mind) in a more rigorous way. None of his ideas were new, only they were combined in a brilliant fashion, merging Spiritualist tendencies to the form of the “new science”.

“I may be misunderstanding what you are mapping diachrony onto in Spinoza. I assume that you are talking about existence in duration. If that is so, particular adequate ideas are perfectly possible and achievable in the diachrony.”

The adequacy of ideas is achieved only through synchrony. Pure diachrony is dissonance.

However I'm not sure how this flushes with your music example where you say that the notes appear to be out of harmony until you have heard the structure of the whole piece.

Some notes may appear to be out of harmony until the last note, but synchrony pervades the whole, so the synchrony of our Being, its will to persist, reveals itself as a synchrony of certain notes. Some notes, those deleterious to our persistence would appear asynchronic in regards to our Being, in that we have inadequate ideas of them. But the larger view, the view under a form of eternity would reveal that even those notes are part of a Natural harmony.

For Spinoza, there are necessarily inadequate ideas, hence the claim that the imagination is a necessary source of error, which will never appear to be harmony simply because they are not a correct 'perception' of the structure.”

This is not so. The inadequacy of ideas is only the (con)fusion of ideas. Because each and every thing flows from necessity, and necessity is assumed by Spinoza to be harmonious, inadequate ideas too play their role in the harmony. This can be seen in his point that ideas are not adequate or inadequate to anything other than in respect to a particular mind:

Ethics Part II

Prop. XXXVI – Inadequate and confused ideas follow by the same necessity, as adequate or clear and distinct ideas.

Proof. – All ideas are in God, and in so far as they are referred to God/Nature are true and adequate; therefore there are no ideas confused or inadequate, except in respect to a particular mind; therefore all ideas, whether adequate or inadequate, follow by the same necessity.

From the point of view of God, that is under the form of eternity, all ideas are adequate.


“You make the conatus sound like a form of agency; do you really mean this?”

It is an incarnation in a long genealogy of the “desire to persist”. In Augustine this translates into the triune existence, knowledge and love. In existentialism it will become the Will to Power. The desire to persist coming upon the facts of existence, that adequate ideas empower and preserve, leads to the relative “freedom” of their adequacy. I am unsure if that can be equated with agency as that term has its own connotations.


He also lays great emphasis on the fact that persistence is achievable by doing nothing unless something is wearing the conatus away from outside. Witness the discussion of suicide in Book IV.

I would not call this great emphasis. While conatus is an essentializing will to persist, the “defeat” of this will by “external causes” simply points to the presence of inadequate ideas which lead to n passive state, one in which the conatus is not self-directive.

“No one, therefore, unless he is defeated by causes external, and contrary,
to his nature, neglects to seek his own advantage, or [sive] to preserve
his being. No one, I say, avoids food or kills himself from the necessity of his
own nature”

“that a man should, from the necessity of his own nature, strive not to exist, or
to be changed into another form, is as impossible as that something should
come from nothing.” (IVP20S).

Many people, due to inadequate ideas, pursue suicidal tendencies, things not beneficial to the persistence of its Being. The enemy of the conatus is only the inadequate idea. One need not look to suicide to find evidence of this. The particulars of this argument though are focused on a kind of madness, even a detachment of the mind from the body (Part III p10) and not a cornerstone to his philosophy.

“I think that Hegel is correct when he says that one of the problems with Spinoza is that there is no such engine.

I think that Hegel distorted his view of Spinoza in order to privilege his own focus on the Negation. He necessarily had to see Spinoza in this way in order to mark his departure more clearly

“I don't see how you can get round the fact that all finite modes possess a conatus but there seems to be no indication that there is an ascension of knowledge in the stone which thinks, but does not seem to either reason or intuit. I know that some commentators (e.g. Curley) posit a difference in kind between the human conatus and all others, but I can find no evidence for this and suggest that Spinoza's attack upon universals implies the opposite.”

I agree with this criticism in its base, but not its conclusion. First of all, if the universe is an immanent process of Becoming, we cannot gage the consciousness of the stone as a fixed state. I take the view rather that Spinoza needs to be rejoined to his Plotinus antecedents, and the definition of consciousness to be revisited. If Being is accepted to be defined in degrees, and not by the binary of Being and Not Being, then immanent consciousness would lie in all things. If we take the view that ‘to be’ is simply to have effects, and that ‘to know’ is to create effects, then, following Campanella, ‘to know is to be’. The most passive stone still ‘knows’ and persists, having a very small degree of Being. By us ‘knowing’ a particular stone, we bring it into greater Being, a larger assemblage of effects. Knowledge becomes the degree to which one “toticipates” (Campanella) in the whole. The ultimate consequence of Spinoza’s assemblages of effects and gradated Being is that the pantheistic universe is in “an ascension of knowledge”, and also therefore Being. Passive matter is continuously brought into greater and greater concert with the whole, and the conatus pervades on all levels, from the most discrete to the subsuming entirety.

“True, but all these relations are external to the stone.”

Externality means little when nothing is external to “God”.




in thanks, autophoron

johneffay
19-04-2005, 02:38 AM
Autophoron

There's not much point me giving a knee-jerk reaction to your last post as I need to think about what you're saying. It would be helpful if you could clarify what you mean by diachrony, as I still do not understand how this applies to Spinoza's ontology.

Still, one answer and one question:


I would be very interested in a primary source regarding his “massive” problem with Platonic universals.
The Short Treatise at Gebhardt I/42-43 is an earlier version of the critique of universals in IIP40S1. In the earlier text, he specifically refers to 'Plato's followers'.


It is an incarnation in a long genealogy of the “desire to persist”. In Augustine this translates into the triune existence, knowledge and love. In existentialism it will become the Will to Power.
I'd be interested to see how you justify this given Nietzsche's specific denial of this in Setion 688 of The Will to Power where he makes essentially the same point that I did, i.e. that self presevation and change are mutually exclusive.

autophoron
19-04-2005, 03:38 AM
J.,


There's not much point me giving a knee-jerk reaction to your last post as I need to think about what you're saying. It would be helpful if you could clarify what you mean by diachrony, as I still do not understand how this applies to Spinoza's ontology.

I take diachrony to be change over time such that it produces pure difference, or as Derrida might say Différance. Each moment distinct from that last. In Deleuze this may be comparable to de-territorialization.

I take synchrony to be the reclaiming of diachronic difference through patterned repetitions of sameness over time, creating a kind of topos. In Deleuze, synchrony in relationship to diachrony, may by comparable to re-territorialization. Pure synchrony would be under the form of eternity, with no absolutely no change possible, and equivalent in large measure to the Parmenidean One (Hen). Synchrony is the consonance between parts such that creates bodies or entities of any order.

The Short Treatise at Gebhardt I/42-43 is an earlier version of the critique of universals in IIP40S1. In the earlier text, he specifically refers to 'Plato's followers'.

I see what you mean regarding Platonic universal, though I am unsure if this constitutes a “massive” problem. His primary difficulty seems to be not with universal character per se, but the fact that it is derived from the images of things and not sufficiently abstract. In a manner, it is not Platonic enough. I think Plontinus and even Spinoza himself after him took care of that.

I'd be interested to see how you justify this given Nietzsche's specific denial of this in Section 688 of The Will to Power where he makes essentially the same point that I did, i.e. that self preservation and change are mutually exclusive.

I don’t have The Will to Power at hand, but if you post the section I would gladly comment on it. In general, Nietzsche had a problematic relationship with Spinoza. He at one time calls him his precursor, and a twin soul, at another denounces him as a metaphysician. I will say that the synchrony of the playing of final note which produces peace, harmony and I say redemption in Spinoza (the adequacy of all ideas under the form of eternity), in Nietzsche produces madness, as the Eternal Return becomes an unabated replay of endless false notes, like a banging on the piano.



in thanks, autophoron

k-punk
20-04-2005, 02:01 AM
I simply have no idea where you are getting this notion of redemtion from in Spinoza. Yes, a movement towards freedom is possible for certain bodies, but it does not happen punctually at the 'end of time' --- insofar as I can figure out what you are doing with diachrony and synchrony, and I'm not sure that I can, it seems not to be missing the point of sub specie aeternitatis, which is precisely NOT chronic (whether dia or syn).

Spinoza is no Nietzschean, agreed, but that is very much to his credit.

The personal God issue can't be so easily sidestepped - re-introducing it IS the production of transcendence.


It seems to me that it would be more convincing to conclude from your premises that Augustine botches immanence than that Spinoza lapses into the transcendent (not the transcendental).

Just because Spinoza maintains that there is only one substance does not mean that he thinks that substance is One.

autophoron
20-04-2005, 02:41 AM
K-punk,


I simply have no idea where you are getting this notion of redemtion from in Spinoza. Yes, a movement towards freedom is possible for certain bodies, but it does not happen punctually at the 'end of time'

To me the end-of-time is posited by an inferred position outside-of-time. If you simply want to propose an endless unfolding of time, that is okay as well, but the “whole” of it is available under the form of eternity. From the position of eternity, each note finds its place. This to me is commensurate with redemption. If you have a problem with the word “redemption”, consider my use of it an appropriation similar to the word appropriations Spinoza used.

--- insofar as I can figure out what you are doing with diachrony and synchrony, and I'm not sure that I can, it seems not to be missing the point of sub specie aeternitatis, which is precisely NOT chronic (whether dia or syn).

Synchrony is a spatial metaphor, the production of a topos, an attractor of stasis which in fact we can have no direct experience of it its purity. It is syn-chronic, in that it is (sun) “with” in Greek, which can mean “along with”, “endued with”, “joined to”, all which describe our experience of such. The synchronic subsumes time. It is put in contrast to dia, "through", "by means of"

Spinoza is no Nietzschean, agreed, but that is very much to his credit.

I agree. I sense that Nietzsche worked within the context of Spinoza’s map, never leaving it, yet never having the perspective its cartography.

The personal God issue can't be so easily sidestepped - re-introducing it IS the production of transcendence.

Augustine’s God is not limited to the personal in the sense that I believe that you mean. The universalizing and near pantheistic activity of love, knowledge and existence are much more than the anthropomorphized, but rather act as constitutive forces of all existence. His "Si fallor sum", which can be argued to be the source for Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum", maintains a foundation for knowledge, a foundation upon which both Decartes and Spinoza built. In being a monist, Spinoza ended up following Augustine, who patterned himself after a monist, more closely than one might imagine. One must also keep in mind that more than a thousand years separated these thinkers, so one is tracing a genealogy of thoughts and not making strict equivalencies.

It seems to me that it would be more convincing to conclude from your premises that Augustine botches immanence than that Spinoza lapses into the transcendent (not the transcendental).

The transcendent is implied within immanence once the place of Eternity is posited. This is the natural outcome of attempting to integrate Parmenidean Being. If you are going to deny the transcendental in Spinoza, explain his insistence

Part V, Prop xxiii,

“The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but there remains of it something which is eternal.”

and in the note:

“Thus, although we do not remember that we existed before the body, yet we feel that our mind, in so far as it involves the essence of the body, under the form of eternity, is eternal, and that thus its existence cannot be defined in terms of time, or explained through duration.”

Just because Spinoza maintains that there is only one substance does not mean that he thinks that substance is One.

It doesn’t mean this, but the comparisons of positions are remarkably similar. Sometimes word for word. This is not simply the coincidence of a number, but an entire relationship of ontology to epistemology based on the gradations of Being reflected in the adequacy of ideas, and guided by the motivating force of the will to persist in contravention to the “deception” of sense perception.



in thanks, autophoron

johneffay
20-04-2005, 01:35 PM
Autophoron

I hope this makes some sort of sense, I hadn’t really finished it when your reply to Mark made me strip various bits out and add others.

I have a feeling that the problem I am having with this is summed up by this quote


From the point of view of God, that is under the form of eternity, all ideas are adequate.
Which I agree with, but don’t really see where it gets us, inasmuch as there is no suggestion that this is a point of view we can ever share. I agree with you that, for Spinoza, the contemplation of a perfectly adequate universe is a matter of devotion and possibly even requires a leap of faith (given that we can posit the God’s eye view, but there is nothing to actually attain it). What I don’t find is any redemptive character therein.

I think this may be due to the way you perceive eternity. As I see it, to say


I take synchrony to be the reclaiming of diachronic difference through patterned repetitions of sameness over time,
has no bearing for Spinoza because eternity is a qualitative form of time, therefore repetition is a meaningless concept in relation to eternity. This is assuming that you are equating synchrony with the God’s eye view. If you are equating synchrony with reterritorialization, then I can see why you might think that there is transcendence in Spinoza. However, given that reterritorialization is always accompanied by deterritorialization, I don’t find it at all comparable to a universe of necessarily adequate ideas.

To consider your music example: sub specie aeternitatis is not the finished tune when the last note is played, but rather the entire thing apprehended simultaneously. This would certainly be transcendent were it ineffable, but nothing is ineffable inasmuch as the possibility of different finite modes having different adequate ideas means that there is no part of the universe which cannot be adequately perceived by something at some point in duration.

In your response to Mark, you bring up the question of whether Spinoza’s insistence upon the eternal nature of some part of the mind does not import transcendence into Spinoza. It may very well do, as I said previously the system is not perfect. However, I’m sure you know that the question of what is going on in this section has vexed scholars for centuries. I would ask you how you think that this section can be seen to be at all consistent with anything in the first four books. I have never seen a convincing answer to this. If this is indeed the case, should we not just admit that this is one of the places where Spinoza falls down?

The Nietzsche passage runs:

It is simply a matter of experience that change never ceases; we have not the slightest inherent reason for assuming that one change must follow upon another. On the contrary: a condition once achieved would seem to be obliged to preserve itself if there were not in it a a capacity for desiring not to preserve itself – Spinoza’s law of “self-preservation” ought really to put a stop to change: but this law is false, the opposite if true. It can be shown most clearly that every living thing does everything it can not to preserve itself but to become more.

I couldn’t disagree more with your reading of the Eternal Return, but don’t think that it’s worth getting sidetracked in that direction. My point was that to read the will to power as the desire to persist is incorrect. I’m also suspicious of the parallels you draw between the conatus and triune existence, but my knowledge of Augustine is very basic so I’m not really qualified to take you up on it.

Regards

effay

autophoron
20-04-2005, 04:05 PM
J,


I hope this makes some sort of sense, I hadn’t really finished it when your reply to Mark made me strip various bits out and add others.

I have a feeling that the problem I am having with this is summed up by this quote
Quote:
From the point of view of God, that is under the form of eternity, all ideas are adequate.

Which I agree with, but don’t really see where it gets us, inasmuch as there is no suggestion that this is a point of view we can ever share.

You may feel that we cannot share this point of view, but for Spinoza we can. In fact in intuiting adequate ideas, we immediately do so. While perhaps the totality of that view is barred from us, but his biographer Nadler suggests that Spinoza did not even place the limit there.

I agree with you that, for Spinoza, the contemplation of a perfectly adequate universe is a matter of devotion and possibly even requires a leap of faith (given that we can posit the God’s eye view, but there is nothing to actually attain it). What I don’t find is any redemptive character therein.

The redemption is simply that the apparently disharmonious becomes harmonious. You can chose any term for that you might like. The concept of “sin” as that which falls from the mark, that which is imperfect in a fallen or fragmented world, restored to a harmonious and perfect state is about a close to redemption as I can think of. Rather than looking at the dogma that surrounds ‘redemption’, look at what supposedly is metaphysically occurring.

has no bearing for Spinoza because eternity is a qualitative form of time, therefore repetition is a meaningless concept in relation to eternity.

Agreed, from the position of Eternity it is such. From the position of our fragmented, inadequate idea state, it is not pure topos.

This is assuming that you are equating synchrony with the God’s eye view. If you are equating synchrony with reterritorialization, then I can see why you might think that there is transcendence in Spinoza. However, given that reterritorialization is always accompanied by deterritorialization, I don’t find it at all comparable to a universe of necessarily adequate ideas.

Deterritorialization, ever pressing on is simply the continuation of an immanent process, not seen from the position of Eternity. Territorializations are only evidence of a transcendent synchrony, a pure topos. This is what makes Spinoza problematic because there is an overarching ideology –which territorializations reflect- which silently guides the process. It is a realm of Eternal Realm of Adequate Ideas, not fundamentally different than the City of God itself, mystified into an abstraction of principles.

To consider your music example: sub specie aeternitatis is not the finished tune when the last note is played, but rather the entire thing apprehended simultaneously.

Certainly. You say it perfectly. But the last note must be played in a sense, or already be played in order for the entire thing to be apprehended. Spinoza hints at this in a way when he even suggests that we existed before we were born. In listening to music at various times in hearing it one apprehends the whole as vistas of comprehension open up, but it is not until the last note that the whole is properly understood. The teleos lies in every note, including the last note.

This would certainly be transcendent were it ineffable, but nothing is ineffable inasmuch as the possibility of different finite modes having different adequate ideas means that there is no part of the universe which cannot be adequately perceived by something at some point in duration.

I think this is a fundamental difficulty in Spinoza and marks his problem of integrating the synchronic (or achronic if you wish) with the diachronic. Only by access to the adequate ideas and Eternal Form are things properly perceived. But since he wants to show the universe to be non-transcendent and equate extension with thought as two attributes of a single expression, he must explain how extension becomes separated from thought as a source of truth. Epistemologically, extension becomes a source of error due to the mind’s constitution through the object of the body. So Spinoza is forced to place the mind as a nexus, a contradiction which is at the same time is defined by the body and also eternal.

In your response to Mark, you bring up the question of whether Spinoza’s insistence upon the eternal nature of some part of the mind does not import transcendence into Spinoza. It may very well do, as I said previously the system is not perfect. However, I’m sure you know that the question of what is going on in this section has vexed scholars for centuries. I would ask you how you think that this section can be seen to be at all consistent with anything in the first four books.

There really should be no vexing. The vexing occurs because one assumes that the synthesis Spinoza attempted to achieve was achieved. The work was written over a long period of time and in some sense was never finished. The reason for this is that the synthesis was never completed. Spinoza lies in contradiction. The immanence is not resolved to the transcendent. The larger portions of the text reflect the immanence of diachronic change, but they are still haunted by the synchronic and transcendence. When he fails to define adequate ideas as those which correspond to their object, (which would produce an dynamic unfolding of forms without teleology), but rather defines them as those which correspond to themselves, he grounds the process outside of Time. When one sees the geometric Kabbalah-like imprint on the general form, the fragmented and fallen world reflected in the principle of inadequate ideas, one realizes that a teleos does indeed direct the Spinozian world. The impersonal connection to that teleos through the rational, given the meanings that rationality has taken on in the modern world, seems to foreclose teleotic intimacy. But the mystical has a long history of impersonal intimacy with teleos. The jouissance that Spinoza feels through his spareness of Being, denial of passions, in harmony with a structuring order, marks him as a rational mystic. The contemplation of God produces blessedness.

I have never seen a convincing answer to this. If this is indeed the case, should we not just admit that this is one of the places where Spinoza falls down?

Or rises up? The key to mending the immanent and transcendent in Spinoza I suggest is found in the philosophy of Tomasso Campanella, who carries Augustine toward the pantheism where Spinoza can reach it. Campanella's "cognosere est esse" (to know is to be) provides the bridge from Augustine to Descartes and therefore Spinoza.

The Nietzsche passage runs:

It is simply a matter of experience that change never ceases; we have not the slightest inherent reason for assuming that one change must follow upon another. On the contrary: a condition once achieved would seem to be obliged to preserve itself if there were not in it a a capacity for desiring not to preserve itself – Spinoza’s law of “self-preservation” ought really to put a stop to change: but this law is false, the opposite if true. It can be shown most clearly that every living thing does everything it can not to preserve itself but to become more.

I believe Nietzsche is in fear, perhaps rightful fear, of the transcendent One in Spinoza. He mistakenly/intentionally projects the finalized state of essences into a temporal moment. It is in Spinoza that the desire to preserve oneself, amid the inadequacy of ideas and a fragmented world, that propels the living thing to “be more”. It is the engine of change, rather than the enemy of it. Nietzsche has a reaction against what he views as the deadening effects of rationalization, and does not realize that when something is overcome, it is necessarily overcome by a stronger thing. The passage from the passive to the active is the same in Nietzsche and Spinoza. The difference is that power comes in Spinoza via an understanding of the over-arching harmony. Spinoza surfs the greater wave, a wave that Nietzsche takes offense in the belief of. In the end it comes down to the word God. While Nietzsche abandons and denies it, perhaps at great personal cost. Spinoza seeks to engage it, rescue it from the abuses it has been put to, reappropriating it.

I couldn’t disagree more with your reading of the Eternal Return, but don’t think that it’s worth getting sidetracked in that direction. My point was that to read the will to power as the desire to persist is incorrect.

The lineage to Augustine is to me clear. The unmediated perception of the Self, the Will to be, is what drives one forward in the world. While Augustine and others see this as directed towards a One and Nietzsche as an urge to smash idols make them very diverse branches of the same tree. From Spinoza’s point of view Nietzsche’s passionate attack “against” is almost definitionally “passive”, driven by forces beyond him. There are times though when Nietzsche ascends through the clouds and stands alone on the peak. It is there that Spinoza and he are joined, as he himself imagined.

I’m also suspicious of the parallels you draw between the conatus and triune existence, but my knowledge of Augustine is very basic so I’m not really qualified to take you up on it.

The parallel lies in the “I think therefore I am” ground of knowing.




in thanks, autophoron

johneffay
21-04-2005, 02:16 PM
Autophoron

There's not much else I can say about this before we just start going round in circles.

We obviously disagree about some of the mechanisms in Spinoza (e.g. the conatus), but seem more broadly in accord than I initially thought. As you admit that



he wants to show the universe to be non-transcendent

and I agree with you that he doesn't manage it. The crux of the matter seems to be summed up here:



I have never seen a convincing answer to this. If this is indeed the case, should we not just admit that this is one of the places where Spinoza falls down?

Or rises up?


Which is what I thought you would say. I do wonder whether your attempt to reclaim a Plotinian/Scholastic heritage for Spinoza is as much to do with your own project (whatever it may be) as Deleuze and others' attempts to make Spinoza's system work perfectly immanently is to do with theirs. Personally, I think that the latter option is the better one, but there you go.

Cheers

effay

autophoron
21-04-2005, 11:23 PM
J.,


" I do wonder whether your attempt to reclaim a Plotinian/Scholastic heritage for Spinoza is as much to do with your own project"


Oh, very much so. Only by putting several projects side by side do we get a better understanding of what the thinker believed and also achieved (and yes they are different things). I for one was drawn to Spinoza specifically for his non-transcendent thinking, for it seemed like he provided a grammar with which one could describe the world effectively, without resorting to transcendent thinking. But as I read him I grew disappointed as I began to see a subtle transcendentalism lurking behind his words, so much so that it seemed like this transcendent state actually served as a grounding of his work. The closer I looked, surprised to find this considering his reputation among modern philosophers, the more I saw the fingerprints of Neo-Platonism, in one form or another. I've come to the conclusion that Spinoza had cornered himself by making his philosophy still too humanistic. Although radically departing from the humanism of his day, his focus on man and the emotions and the essence of the soul forced him into a virtual contradiction. He had to achieve a kind of salvation of man based on the powers of reason alone, completely independent of the institutions of the day.

What I suggest is that Spinoza needs to be radicalized in the two directions that he was pulled. I feel that his exploration of the diachronic reality and description of the relation between bodies in terms of speeds and intensities has been taken up fairly successfully by Deleuze, and perhaps others. The primary compromise that held him back was the principle of essences and the need to find that humans had an essence per se. When one realizes that all consonances between parts must have essences, any resonance of bodies or ideas, the human being becomes only a fleeting existence of a much more broadly occurring process. His dependence upon the "noun" should perhaps be shifted to the "verb" and perhaps Leibniz' "Natura non facit saltus" (Nature does nothing in leaps) would be helpful. That bodies are everywhere, in constant creation and annihilation would be a sufficient conclusion to draw from Spinoza the trans-humanist, and certainly one could stop there. But I also suggest that he must be radicalized in the other direction, the synchronic one (or achronic). Firstly, it would have to be acknowledged that this formed a major part of his project, and was not some "falling down", or unfortunate misstep. Secondly, if one returned to Plotinus, catches his drift regarding the centrality of the conatus and embraces the fundamental precept of gradations of Being. Spinoza would be proposing a universe which is moving towards greater and greater number of effects, all brought forth by "knowing", a knowing that by definition would constitute Being. This would be a true pantheism, one is which all things shared consciousness in gradations in virtue of, and a reflection of their Being. The consonance that everything is heading for, the production of effects is an inter-relating of which human beings are playing a very, very small part. The profit of radicalizing in this way would be a broadening of the definition of consciousness, of knowing and of Being, an unhinging of Spinoza from a fixed near-ideological "form of eternity" and making of the process a universal immanence, which is what I imagine that Spinoza would have preferred altogether. Only the prominence of the human being, that centrality of focus, as much as he tried to decenter his philosophy, created the transcendent as an anchor behind his texts.




in thanks, autophoron