Hello,

It’s been awhile since the last post, there is really nothing to say more than that. However, in the more enticing side of things of life and contemplation is Spinoza– instead of a displaced college student in the midst of quarantine (which is currently me).

The reason why I find Spinoza is so interesting is because he rejects the notion that human beings and God are separate. Instead of there being two kinds of substance — the divine and then the mortal — Spinoza says there is only one. There is only one kind of substance, which is God, and we are all contained within this God. The caveat is that God is not like the typical, old, human male we tend to picture. God, according to Spinoza, is not a being that makes decisions. This is because if God were to be almighty, all-knowing and omnipresent, God couldn’t possibly ever need to contemplate on what the best course of action is. If God were to contemplate, that would mean that God would not know what the best course of action is — be he always does. (Spinoza would also reject calling God a He, as God is not a finite being like a male is, but I’ve grown accustomed to doing so, for the sake of this essay we will use the male pronoun.) 

Since God cannot make any decision, the world is the way it is because it has to be so. For example, there is no other version of the universe in which 2+2=5. This is a stark difference between Spinoza and someone like Descartes. Descartes would argue that God is so almighty and powerful that he could change anything about the universe. Everything for Spinoza has a cause and these causes can be traced back infinatum, without a true beginning. Therefore, every action is predetermined from the very start; and yet, Spinoza still views his picture of the world is compatible with freedom. 

Freedom is such a complex concept as there is no consensus to what it is. How should we define freedom? Does everyone have it? Is it located within our minds or within the collective? Does it have a taste? Spinoza would say freedom is with recognizing what leads your actions. As stated previously, everything is predetermined from the start. Every action we take has a precursor or background infiltrating our “decision.” For instance, you dislike mint ice-cream because it reminds you of toothpaste. Would your dislike for mint ice-cream be different if toothpaste was only flavored in cinnamon? Would you then say the same thing for cinnamon ice-cream? There are many examples of how our history shapes us to something as miniscule as flavors to patterns of actions. 

Freedom slides in here for Spinoza as in the recognition of why you are acting the way you are acting. In essence, freedom is understanding your rationale and acting from that rather than the immediate responses you can have to the outside forces of the universe. For instance, instead of letting your emotions dictate your action like the heat of the moment type of reaction, you can step back and analyze why you are acting like that. You can see what caused you to act like that and if you want to continue acting like that.

Freedom is breaking away from these habits and understanding that you can choose how you react and see the world around. Living is about being conscious and mindful of what brought you to the position you are in now. 

Ending notes:

  • Everything had to be the way it is for you to become the person you are now.
  • Nothing could be any different as you were destined to travel on this path and find peace and freedom within yourself.
  • We are essentially all infinite substances floating along inside this version of God Spinoza supposes.

I will explain further Spinoza’s version of immortality and then go on to explain different versions of time and space explained by some philosophers. Then I will go onto Arendt who criticizes the aspect that freedom is within oneself. 

Final questions:

  • Do you agree that there is only one substance or is there a difference between the divine and humanity?
  • What is your version of freedom and how do you obtain it?
  • What would immortality look like to you? 

Stay Thinking. Until Next Time,

Ocean 

2 replies on “God And Such

  1. Really loved the article. Especially the comparison between Descartes and Spinoza. For me, substance should be one because if it were two or more than two, it wont be easy to give a teleological explanation to how everything came into existence. For example, the Indian School of Samkhya considers Two substances Purusa and Prakriti. Although they did give a beautiful explanation of the reproductive process but they did fail to answer some questions such as how did the process start. Also, about your next question, I think that the divine and human are one but are sometimes led to believe that they are different. For if divine wasn’t the human, or didn’t contain a part of god, the distinction from human to other life forms won’t be possible. Very insightful article.

  2. So interesting! I had never thought of freedom in the way Spinoza defines it, but I love that idea. It shows how much we are prisoners to our own emotions a lot of the time. Like you said, freedom is so tough to define, but this perspective seems to do a good job of showing one angle to it because a large part of freedom really does seem to stem from having more wisdom, awareness, and control of one’s life.

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