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SPINOZA NOTES
by
 John S Moore

 

AM 99, H S Chamberlain criticises Spinoza for typical Jewish egoism, something which could well be seen as deriving from Hobbes

AC 6, Human all too Human. Nietzsche's Spinozism, i.e. his exploration of the doctrines of psychological egoism and determinism, irresponsibility. In all their ramifications, moral and emotional. As he later wrote, he had not read Spinoza at that time

XX 5&, I think it is wrong to see him as some kind of mechanistic materialist. Look at part one prop 16 and part one appendix. "The laws of his nature were so comprehensive as to suffice for the creation of everything that infinite intellect can conceive, as I have shown in prop 16".

Tendency to define God in terms of what is possible, i.e. conceivable. There can be no objection to this as a definition. But then the decidedly metaphysical idea that what is possible, in this sense, necessarily exists in an actual sense. That the world is perfect because it contains everything possible, i.e. conceivable. Necessarily exists, (i.e. not now but somewhere in eternity). It seems to me that there is here a metaphysical explanation of 'the whole' and this is in terms of the perfection of God. The philosophy of Leibniz is closer to this than some have thought. Spinoza only accepts one possible world, and that perfect.

Spinoza, Hobbes, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyere. Even Shakespeare, Milton, Donne.

Seventeenth century psychologists. Subtler and more penetrating than those of the present day. One gathers that Spinoza does not think it wise to arouse the passions. He says that envy is only between equals. Pride and self love. How one would like to be seen. Spinoza has a lot to say about that. To be seen as my heroes are seen, or as I see my heroes.

Arousing the passions. One does so with a hope of satisfaction that is generally denied. Still one suspects that arousal is in the end worthwhile. In retrospect it appears to have value. My anti-Buddhist disagreement with Spinoza.

XX 16, "Some people grow narrower as they grow older. Other, like Mr. Gladstone, more liberal. … It is not that one grows more tolerant, that one likes people any the more. One simply sees the unfeasibility of trying to change or suppress them. There is the root of the unpleasantness of so many of the effusions of youth. (Russell History of Western Philosophy)"

Surely this bears some relation to what Spinoza is talking about. Bertrand Russell is wrong to see him as such a saint. His acquaintance with malevolence and frustration seems quite profound. Putting ones feelings, one's passions, in a wider perspective. Perhaps the philosophical type itself is one that feels strong frustrating passions. Socrates, Spinoza, Nietzsche. Broadening perspective on all one's interests and passions.

Spinoza's Nietzschean psychology. Happiness as resistance overcome. What is more objectionable than to think of oneself as one of mankind in general? One wants to be a god, not simply a human being. Envy between equals. A shared ideology shared values, somehow reduces, imposes a natural pecking order.
 

XX21&, Spinoza as Jew. Therefore the very great objectivity and detachment his account of emotion Understand this and understand why Nietzsche was ultimately against him. Objectivity and detachment. His view that emotion is essentially a bad thing. That strong feelings are to be considered as something dangerous. Detachment form any firm emotional commitment. Any strong revolutionary feeling, a strong feeling that things should be this way rather than that way, is liable to pose a threat to a minority group like Jews. Will to power, Nietzsche's idea that it is right to stimulate the passions and emotions even where the result is acute frustration. Influence of Hobbes on Spinoza. Avoiding civil war, relativising all your concerns. As if in general you can have no reason for expecting other people to share your attitudes, interests or opinions. It is against such an opinion that Nietzsche argues will to power as an objective fact. His ideal bears some similarity to Spinoza's only it is less bloodless. Objective sanction for interests and ambitions.

To claim superiority not, like Spinoza, on the basis that I am free from passions, but actually on the basis of all my feelings and passions.

XX29, I cannot quite understand Spinoza's conception of blessedness and the intellectual love of God. He says God loves himself. But he describes pleasure as the result of passing from a lower state of perfection to a higher. Surely to achieve perfection would be to pass beyond pleasure?

XX 42, Spinoza. Pain as inadequate idea. Pain as the gravity of time.

AN 34, Hegel's Spinoza. Easiness to understand (as against what Anscombe says). A necessary stage in all philosophy, the withdrawal from all determinateness. That he should deduce more. Inadequacy of his geometrical method.

AB, 227, Lewes' chapter on Spinoza, (in his History of Philosophy) the first one I any difficulty in understanding. I cannot understand wither why he finds Spinoza so compelling and irrefutable, given any possibility of metaphysics at all, nor what he finds so disagreeable and disturbing about the system. Descartes' cogito as a ground of certainty, not a logical ground but an intuitive certainty. Then the proof of God's existence. Spinoza as identification of this, God, the ground of all phenomena, as the whole, the all. A contemplative way of satisfying the mind, its desire for certainty. Programme going back at least as far as Aristotle. Total understanding, Being through its ground. All one can say is that Spinoza's pantheism is one possible consequence of Descartes' God.
 

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