Any idea is an integral part of an infinite series of ideas and is determined by the nature of thought and its laws, along with its relations to other ideas. There is, in other words, no causal interaction between bodies and ideas, between the physical and the mental. There is, however, a thoroughgoing correlation and parallelism between the two series. For every mode in extension that is a relatively stable collection of matter, there is a corresponding mode in thought.
Every material thing thus has its own particular idea—an eternal adequate idea—that expresses or represents it. As he explains,. One kind of extended body, however, is significantly more complex than any others in its composition and in its dispositions to act and be acted upon.
That complexity is reflected in its corresponding idea. The body in question is the human body; and its corresponding idea is the human mind or soul. Whatever happens in the body is reflected or expressed in the mind. In this way, the mind perceives, more or less obscurely, what is taking place in its body. But the human mind no more interacts with its body than any mode of Thought interacts with a mode of Extension. Spinoza, in effect, denies that the human being is a union of two substances.
The human mind and the human body are two different expressions—under Thought and under Extension—of one and the same thing: the person. And because there is no causal interaction between the mind and the body, the so-called mind-body problem does not, technically speaking, arise. The human mind, like God, contains ideas. Such ideas do not convey adequate and true knowledge of the world, but only a relative, partial and subjective picture of how things presently seem to be to the perceiver.
There is no systematic order to these perceptions, nor any critical oversight by reason. Under such circumstances, we are simply determined in our ideas by our fortuitous and haphazard encounter with things in the external world. This superficial acquaintance will never provide us with knowledge of the essences of those things. In fact, it is an invariable source of falsehood and error. Adequate ideas, on the other hand, are formed in a rational and orderly manner, and are necessarily true and revelatory of the essences of things.
The adequate idea of a thing clearly and distinctly situates its object in all of its causal nexuses and shows not just that it is, but how and why it is.
The person who truly knows a thing sees the reasons why the thing was determined to be and could not have been otherwise. To perceive by way of adequate ideas is to perceive the necessity inherent in Nature. Sense experience alone could never provide the information conveyed by an adequate idea. The senses present things only as they appear from a given perspective at a given moment in time. And Reason perceives this necessity of things truly, i. The third kind of knowledge, intuition, takes what is known by Reason and grasps it in a single act of the mind.
Not even Descartes believed that we could know all of Nature and its innermost secrets with the degree of depth and certainty that Spinoza thought possible.
Most remarkably, because Spinoza thought that the adequate knowledge of any object, and of Nature as a whole, involves a thorough knowledge of God and of how things related to God and his attributes, he also had no scruples about claiming that we can, at least in principle, know God perfectly and adequately. No other philosopher in history has been willing to make this claim. But, then again, no other philosopher so forthrightly identified God with Nature. Spinoza engages in such a detailed analysis of the composition of the human being because it is essential to his goal of showing how the human being is a part of Nature, existing within the same causal nexuses as other extended and mental beings.
This has serious ethical implications. First, it implies that a human being is not endowed with freedom, at least in the ordinary sense of that term. What is true of the will and, of course, of our bodies is true of all the phenomena of our psychological lives. Spinoza believes that this is something that has not been sufficiently understood by previous thinkers, who seem to have wanted to place the human being on a pedestal outside of or above nature.
Descartes, for example, believed that if the freedom of the human being is to be preserved, the soul must be exempt from the kind of deterministic laws that rule over the material universe. For nothing stands outside of nature, not even the human mind. Our affects—our love, anger, hate, envy, pride, jealousy, etc. Spinoza, therefore, explains these emotions—as determined in their occurrence as are a body in motion and the properties of a mathematical figure—just as he would explain any other things in nature.
Our affects are divided into actions and passions. When the cause of an event lies in our own nature—more particularly, our knowledge or adequate ideas—then it is a case of the mind acting.
On the other hand, when something happens in us the cause of which lies outside of our nature, then we are passive and being acted upon. All beings are naturally endowed with such a power or striving. What we should strive for is to be free from the passions—or, since this is not absolutely possible, at least to learn how to moderate and restrain them—and become active, autonomous beings.
We will, consequently, be truly liberated from the troublesome emotional ups and downs of this life. The way to bring this about is to increase our knowledge, our store of adequate ideas, and eliminate as far as possible our inadequate ideas, which follow not from the nature of the mind alone but from its being an expression of how our body is affected by other bodies.
In other words, we need to free ourselves from a reliance on the senses and the imagination, since a life of the senses and images is a life being affected and led by the objects around us, and rely as much as we can only on our rational faculties. This provides Spinoza with a foundation for cataloging the human passions.
For the passions are all functions of the ways in which external things affect our powers or capacities. When joy is a passion, it is always brought about by some external object. Love is simply Joy accompanied by an awareness of the external cause that brings about the passage to a greater perfection. We love that object that benefits us and causes us joy. We hope for a thing whose presence, as yet uncertain, will bring about joy. We fear, however, a thing whose presence, equally uncertain, will bring about sadness. When that whose outcome was doubtful becomes certain, hope is changed into confidence, while fear is changed into despair.
All of the human emotions, in so far as they are passions, are constantly directed outward, towards things and their capacities to affect us one way or another. Aroused by our passions and desires, we seek or flee those things that we believe cause joy or sadness. But the objects of our passions, being external to us, are completely beyond our control. Thus, the more we allow ourselves to be controlled by them , the more we are subject to passions and the less active and free we are.
The solution to this predicament is an ancient one. Since we cannot control the objects that we tend to value and that we allow to influence our well-being, we ought instead to try to control our evaluations themselves and thereby minimize the sway that external objects and the passions have over us. We can never eliminate the passive affects entirely. We are essentially a part of nature, and can never fully remove ourselves from the causal series that link us to external things. But we can, ultimately, counteract the passions, control them, and achieve a certain degree of relief from their turmoil.
The path to restraining and moderating the affects is through virtue. Spinoza is a psychological and ethical egoist. All beings naturally seek their own advantage—to preserve their own being—and it is right for them do so. This is what virtue consists in. Since we are thinking beings, endowed with intelligence and reason, what is to our greatest advantage is knowledge. Our virtue, therefore, consists in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, of adequate ideas. The best kind of knowledge is a purely intellectual intuition of the essences of things.
They are apprehended, that is, in their conceptual and causal relationship to the universal essences thought and extension and the eternal laws of nature. But this is just to say that, ultimately, we strive for a knowledge of God. The concept of any body involves the concept of extension; and the concept of any idea or mind involves the concept of thought. So the proper and adequate conception of any body or mind necessarily involves the concept or knowledge of God.
What we see when we understand things through the third kind of knowledge, under the aspect of eternity and in relation to God, is the deterministic necessity of all things.
We see that all bodies and their states follow necessarily from the essence of matter and the universal laws of physics; and we see that all ideas, including all the properties of minds, follow necessarily from the essence of thought and its universal laws. This insight can only weaken the power that the passions have over us. We are no longer hopeful or fearful of what shall come to pass, and no longer anxious or despondent over our possessions.
We regard all things with equanimity, and we are not inordinately and irrationally affected in different ways by past, present or future events. The result is self-control and a calmness of mind. Our affects or emotions themselves can be understood in this way, which further diminishes their power over us. The third kind of knowledge generates a love for its object, and in this love consists not joy, a passion, but blessedness itself. He takes care for the well-being and virtuous flourishing of other human beings. He does what he can through rational benevolence as opposed to pity or some other passion to insure that they, too, achieve relief from the disturbances of the passions through understanding, and thus that they become more like him and therefore most useful to him.
Moreover, the free person is not anxious about death. The free person neither hopes for any eternal, otherworldly rewards nor fears any eternal punishments. He knows that the soul is not immortal in any personal sense, but is endowed only with a certain kind of eternity. This understanding of his place in the natural scheme of things brings to the free individual true peace of mind. Free human beings will be mutually beneficial and useful, and will be tolerant of the opinions and even the errors of others. However, human beings do not generally live under the guidance of reason. The state or sovereign, therefore, is required in order to insure—not by reason, but by the threat of force—that individuals are protected from the unrestrained pursuit of self-interest on the part of other individuals.
The ostensive aim of the Theological-Political Treatise TTP , widely vilified in its time, is to show that the freedom to philosophize can not only be granted without injury to piety and the peace of the Commonwealth, but that the peace of the Commonwealth and Piety are endangered by the suppression of this freedom. He also defends, at least as a political ideal, the tolerant, secular, and democratic polity. A person guided by fear and hope, the main emotions in a life devoted to the pursuit of temporal advantages, turns, in the face of the vagaries of fortune, to behaviors calculated to secure the goods he desires.
Thus, we pray, worship, make votive offerings, sacrifice and engage in all the various rituals of popular religion. But the emotions are as fleeting as the objects that occasion them, and thus the superstitions grounded in those emotions subject to fluctuations. Ambitious and self-serving clergy do their best to stabilize this situation and give some permanence to those beliefs and behaviors. Only then will we be able to delimit exactly what we need to do to show proper respect for God and obtain blessedness.
This will reduce the sway that religious authorities have over our emotional, intellectual and physical lives, and reinstate a proper and healthy relationship between the state and religion. A close analysis of the Bible is particularly important for any argument that the freedom of philosophizing—essentially, freedom of thought and speech—is not prejudicial to piety. Thus, philosophy and religion, reason and faith, inhabit two distinct and exclusive spheres, and neither should tread in the domain of the other. The freedom to philosophize and speculate can therefore be granted without any harm to true religion.
In fact, such freedom is essential to public peace and piety, since most civil disturbances arise from sectarian disputes. From a proper and informed reading of Scripture, a number of things become clear. First, the prophets were not men of exceptional intellectual talents—they were not, that is, naturally gifted philosophers—but simply very pious, even morally superior individuals endowed with vivid imaginations.
This is what allowed them to apprehend that which lies beyond the boundary of the intellect. Moreover, the content of a prophecy varied according to the physical temperament, imaginative powers, and particular opinions or prejudices of the prophet. The prophets are not necessarily to be trusted when it comes to matters of the intellect, on questions of philosophy, history or science; and their pronouncements set no parameters on what should or should not be believed about the natural world on the basis of our rational faculties.
The ancient Hebrews, in fact, did not surpass other nations in their wisdom or in their proximity to God.
They were neither intellectually nor morally superior to other peoples. God or Nature gave them a set of laws and they obeyed those laws, with the natural result that their society was well-ordered and their autonomous government persisted for a long time. Their election was thus a temporal and conditional one, and their kingdom is now long gone. True piety and blessedness are universal in their scope and accessible to anyone, regardless of their confessional creed.
The law of God commands only the knowledge and love of God and the actions required for attaining that condition. Such love must arise not from fear of possible penalties or hope for any rewards, but solely from the goodness of its object. The divine law does not demand any particular rites or ceremonies such as sacrifices or dietary restrictions or festival observances.
The six hundred and thirteen precepts of the Torah have nothing to do with blessedness or virtue. They were directed only at the Hebrews so that they might govern themselves in an autonomous state. The ceremonial laws helped preserve their kingdom and insure its prosperity, but were valid only as long as that political entity lasted. They are not binding on all Jews under all circumstances. They were, in fact, instituted by Moses for a purely practical reason: so that people might do their duty and not go their own way.
This is true not just of the rites and practices of Judaism, but of the outer ceremonies of all religions. None of these activities have anything to do with true happiness or piety. A similar practical function is served by stories of miracles. Scripture speaks in a language suited to affect the imagination of ordinary people and compel their obedience. Rather than appealing to the natural and real causes of all events, its authors sometimes narrate things in a way calculated to move people—particularly uneducated people—to devotion.
Cited as EP 1. Short T. Yet, this hyperbolization of the Enlightenment seems to consist in two strains. Galen Johnson, translations ed. The substitution of an interplay of institutions for the primacy of perception also entails that phenomenologys role is more limited than it would be for Merleau-Ponty. Fellows Marc M.
Every event, no matter how extraordinary, has a natural cause and explanation. At the same time, he thereby reduces the fundamental doctrine of piety to a simple and universal formula, naturalistic in itself, involving love and knowledge. This process of naturalization achieves its stunning climax when Spinoza turns to consider the authorship and interpretation of the Bible itself. Others before Spinoza had suggested that Moses was not the author of the entire Pentateuch for example, Abraham ibn Ezra in the twelfth century and, in the seventeenth century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
But no one had taken that claim to the extreme limit that Spinoza did, arguing for it with such boldness and at such length. Nor had anyone before Spinoza been willing to draw from it the conclusions about the status, meaning and interpretation of Scripture that Spinoza drew. Spinoza denied that Moses wrote all, or even most of the Torah. Moses did, to be sure, compose some books of history and of law; and remnants of those long lost books can be found in the Pentateuch. The aim of Viva Voce: Conversations with Italian Philosophers is in close conversation with, if not a continuation of, the project begun by Benso and Schroeder in with Contemporary Italian Philosophy.
Similarly, Viva Voce presents readers a snapshot over the work of twenty-three contemporary Italian thinkers working within different fields of philosophy, both in the continental and the analytic tradition. Thus, Viva Voce furthers the scope of perspectives it wishes to introduce to the Anglophone world in bringing Italian analytic voices to the fore — an element that was absent in Contemporary Italian Philosophy, which was dealing with the continental tradition specifically.
Benso writes:. Viva Voce pledges no thematic allegiance. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that the thinkers interviewed have different philosophical orientations, and work within different areas of the philosophical landscape. As the title suggests, the book format is highly innovative. Thinkers recount themselves in their own terms by answering a set of questions Benso posed over email. The motivation behind such stylistic choice is explained by Benso in the following way:.
In light of such considerations, it has been the more modest choice of this editor to let the story be told not by a grand narrative but by those who, through their scholarly writings as well as their academic lectures, public conferences, and performances of various kinds, have contributed to delineate such a history. Thus, the format of the interview as been chosen as the most appropriate mode of narration for the volume.
The result is an interesting temporal movement: the first set of question asks the author about their intellectual past, in terms of their provenance, as well as the external influences and traditions they subscribed to; the second set is geared towards the present of the thinker as they envisage it, here they are asked to outline the basic tenets of their philosophical positions, the originality of their contributions, and the timelessness thereof; finally, thinkers are asked to voice their opinion about the future of philosophy given the current world, as well as offering some conclusive thoughts for philosophers and non-philosophers alike.
As Benso puts it:. First, they star with more general questions that address issues of provenance, external domestic and foreign influences, and lineages. Next, they move to a self-description offered by each interviewed philosopher and aimed at highlighting the main tenets, theoretical originality, and timeliness of each individual position. The history of Italian philosophy is constellated by thinkers reflecting on the link between philosophy and national borders in two interconnected ways: the very validity of ascribing a national qualifier to philosophy, and the nature of Italian philosophy as such.
In this sense, Italian philosophy as a cultural event based on language precedes the formation of all possibilities of an Italian nationalism based on geographical borders. Being Italian is a cultural event ahead of all belonging to a territory, a soil, a nation or even a blood lineage.
Through the interviews, readers learn about the turbulent philosophical climate of post-war Italy. Ugo Perone. The Possible Present unfolds from within a freely reinterpreted hermeneutic perspective and provides an original theoretical proposal on the topic of time. In dialogue especially with the philosophies of Husserl and Heidegger, but resorting also to suggestions coming from a theological background Barth and Bonhoeffer , the work proposes a personal and original theory of time centered on a conception of the present that does not reduce temporality to a succession of mere instants.
When one claims that time is ungraspable, one refers neither to the past which is rather irretrievable nor to the future which is rather uncertain but to the present.