Suicide or self-destruction means in ordinary language “the act of killing oneself deliberately” (intentionally or on purpose). Indeed, that’s what we read in the Oxford dictionary and the Oxford dictionary of philosophy , which seems to be confirmed by the etymology of the term “suicide”, a term introduced around mid-17th century deduced from the modern Latin suicidium, ‘act of suicide’. Traditionally, suicide was regarded as immoral, irreligious and illegal in Western culture. However, during the 17th century this Christian view started (...) to change as a consequence of the rise of modern science . Generally speaking, Spinoza does not write much on death. His name does even not occur in the Oxford Philosophy of Death, although he had had very particular ideas on the nature of death. However, he even had much more particular ideas on suicide. Moreover, he states in the fourth proposition of the third part of his masterpiece, the Ethics, that self-destruction is simply impossible: Nulla res, nisi à causâ externâ, potest destrui. (shrink)
The entry on striving (conatus) for the Cambridge Spinoza Lexicon, edited by Karolina Hübner and Justin Steinberg. This is the second (September 2022) draft; please do not quote, but comments are very welcome.
This article provides an overview of Spinoza's positions on determinism, free will, and freedom framed by an attempt to make sense of a Spinozistic ethical project that simultaneously denies free will as an illusion while advocating the significance of human freedom for the good life. Within this context, other key doctrines in Spinoza's moral psychology are explored including his view of the will, passions, rational activity, and responsibility.
This guide has an introduction and five chapters, one for each of the parts of Spinoza's Ethics. The Introduction includes background material necessary for productive study of the Ethics: advice for working with Spinoza's geometrical method, a biographical sketch of Spinoza, and accounts of important predecessors: Aristotle, Maimonides, and Descartes. The chapters that follow trace the Ethics in detail, including accounts of most of the elements in Spinoza's book and raising questions for further research. Chapter 1, "One Infinite Substance," covers (...) central arguments of Spinoza's substance monism. Chapter 2, "The Idea of the Human Body," follows Spinoza's detailed metaphysics of ordinary objects, his theory of mind, and his epistemology. Chapter 3, "Desire, Joy, and Sadness," works from Spinoza's broad theory of finite activity in the striving to persevere in being to his detailed accounts of human action and passion. Chapter 4, "Bondage to Passion," emphasizes Spinoza's formal theory of value, his intellectualism in ethics, and particular claims about value that follow from these commitments. Chapter 5, "The Power of the Intellect," begins with Spinoza's criticism of Descartes's account of our ability to control passion and moves to Spinoza's own theory, which emphasizes reason, the eternal part of the mind, and human blessedness. (shrink)
I argue alongside some other scholars that there is a plausible reading of Spinoza’s philosophy of suicide which holds both of the following tenets: first, that suicides occur because of external conditions, and second, that there are at least some suicides which are rational. These two tenets require special attention because they seem to be the source of significant tension. For Spinoza, if one’s cognitions are to be the most adequate, they must be “disposed internally” (E2p29s/G II 114), or determined (...) more from one’s own mental nature than from “fortuitous encounters” with other things (E2p29s/G II 114). It may seem there is a conflict, then, in saying both that there are rational suicides in the Spinozist framework, and that suicides must always be a result of external conditions: it seems a suicide simply cannot be rational if it is the result of external conditions. But this tension, it will be shown, can be dissolved. Once this tension is dealt with, I offer some brief closing arguments. I explain how this reading of Spinoza’s philosophy of suicide can satisfy a call for new suicide research which avoids forms of over-individualism and epistemic injustice, and which encourages us to abolish oppressive conditions that lead to rational suicides. (shrink)
The monograph offers an original account of Spinoza’s philosophy and ethics concentrated on its concordance with selected modern neuroscientific theories. The book proceeds through the whole of Spinoza’s philosophy and by increasingly complex analytical account acquaints with its essential frameworks, terminology, and concepts, and is thus accessible also to readers who are not yet familiar with the thought of this peculiar thinker. The fundamental motives of this interpretation are the nature of the mind and the questions of human freedom and (...) human bondage, mainly in connection with the investigation of affects (passions and drives) that the mind tends to be bound with. In his philosophy, Spinoza not only offers brilliant analyses of human experience but in anticipation of modern psychotherapeutic techniques suggests practical methods for the realization of sufficiently functional affective-cognitive self-therapy aimed at the regulation and control of one’s passivity. The understanding of and working with one’s weaknesses is, according to Spinoza, the necessary condition for realizing one’s freedom, or – for being able to shift from pathetics to ethics. (shrink)
이 논문은 스피노자 철학의 개체론에서 핵심적인 지위를 차지하는 코나투스 개념의 단일성 문제를 살핀다. 최근 스피노자 연구자들은 한 개체의 본질(essentia)로 설명되는 코나투스 개념을 단일성으로 해석할 때의 여러 문제점을 제기하며 코나투스 개념을 복합적인 것으로 이해하는 경향이 있다. 하지만 필자는 스피노자 철학에서 코나투스는 신의 역량이 구체화 된 하나의 단위 혹은 단일성에 속하고, 본성(natura)으로서 운동량이 개체의 복합성과 상황 함수에 종속된다고 이해한다.BR 개체의 본질로서 코나투스는 신의 속성을 어떠한 결정된 방식으로 표현하는 양태이지만, 이때의 결정성은 개체의 역량을 제한하기보다는 신의 무한한 역량 안에 위치시키는 기능을 한다. 따라서 신의 (...) 역량이 일정한 방식으로 결정된 코나투스 개념 안에는 어떠한 부정이나 제한의 의미도 내포되지 않는다.BR 반면 개체의 결정된 본성은 본성 밖의 다른 것들에 대한 개체의 무능을 내포하기 때문에 개체의 본성을 통해서 비로소 유한한 양태가 겪을 수밖에 없는 다양한 제한적 상황들에 대한 해명이 가능하다. 따라서 본질과 본성을 이렇게 구분하는 것이 타당하다면 개체의 자기 폭력적인 현상으로서 자살의 문제를 해명하고자 할 때 본질이 아닌 본성 개념에 근거해야만 한다는 결론을 도출할 수 있을 것이다. (shrink)
People attribute resistance to bodies in Spinoza's physics. It's not always clear what they mean when they do this, or whether they are entitled to. This article clarifies what it would mean, and examines the evidence for attributing resistance. The verdict: there's some evidence, but not nearly as much as people think.
Bourdieu’s intermittent allusions to Spinoza’s conatus disclose the weaknesses of his concept of habitus. A thorough inspection of his involvement with the Spinozist legacy reveals a long-lasting inconsistency, for he expects that conatus will assist him in both 1) grounding the habitus and solving the uncertainties that surround this notion by endorsing a strong conatus, impervious to the resistances it will eventually encounter; and 2) re-instating agency in the structuralist mindset, a program retrospectively admitted by Bourdieu in 1987 and bound (...) to a weak conatus, exposed to the interfering resistance of exterior forces and thus determined by the interaction with contingent events. Bourdieu noticed this incongruity around 1993. At that time, he renounced to buttressing the habitus by means of the dynamizing character of conatus. So began the later evolution of his thought, linked to the antithetical demand of both a weak and a strong conatus, a request commanded in its turn by an overarching habitus. One outcome of this conflict is that agency can hardly be summoned if Bourdieu’s conception of a “strong” conatus prevails and the dispositions making up the habitus are irreversible. In contrast, both Bourdieu’s appeal to controlled improvisation, and the ensuing concept of strategy, demand a “weak” conatus. Overall, the notion of habitus has been dubbed “a Trojan Horse for determinism” and endorses in fact what might be called the “mythology of permanence,” that is, the historically long-held belief in an all-embracing everlastingness. Bourdieu’s use of Spinoza’s conatus, in sum, besides highlighting the immutable social reproduction entailed by the habitus, acts as a litmus test for the ambiguities and shortcomings of this notion. (shrink)
In this paper, we reconstruct the development of Spinoza’s theory of judgment against the backdrop of the development of his political views. In this context we also look at the difference between Descartes’ meta-act theory of judgment, which Spinoza criticises, and his own all-inclusive approach. By “meta-act theory” we understand the claim that content and judgment about the truth of the content are metaphysically really distinct mental items. By an “all-inclusive theory” we understand the claim that judgment and content constitute (...) only one mental act. We show further how the core intuitions of this all-inclusive theory are developed by Spinoza in an increasingly radical manner and how the practical implications of his all-inclusive theory come to the fore in the Theological-Political Treatise: given that content and act are not really distinct, it is metaphysically impossible that human subjects can give up their ability to judge, which is why Spinoza can plausibly contend that everybody has an inalienable right to form their own judgment. (shrink)
In recent years, the notion of relational autonomy has transformed the old debate about the freedom of the individual in society. For Spinoza, individual humans are embedded in natural, social and political circumstances from which they derive their power and freedom. I take this to mean that Spinoza’s is best described as a constitutive theory of relational autonomy. I will show how by defining freedom in terms of power, Spinoza understands individual freedom as irreducibly relational. I propose that Spinoza develops (...) his theory of power to understand how individual power or freedom is limited and enhanced by the power of those around one. For Spinoza, the power of an individual is a function of that individual’s emotions, imaginative conceptions of itself and the world and its appetites. In this paper (1) I will argue that Spinoza reformulates a concept of freedom in terms of power. (2) His mature theory of freedom as power proposes that individual power is determined through social interaction, and is thus best understood as a relational theory of freedom. (3) I will show that as a consequence of Spinoza’s theory, individual power and empowerment relies on those around the individual, and thus, to achieve individual liberation we must pursue collective empowerment. (shrink)
In the perhaps most decisive reopening of philosophy in the twentieth century, Heidegger presented an existential analytic. This can be viewed as the highly complex analysis of one simple action: being-there. In the paper at hand, a Spinozist interpretation of this action is proposed. This implies a shift in the Aristotelian conceptuality, which, to a large extent, informs Heidegger’s analysis. The action of being-there is not a movement from potentiality to actuality. It is a force of existence. However, this force (...) is located right at the threshold between potentiality and actuality. Accordingly, it is not a matter of dismissing Aristotle’s concepts, but—with Heidegger—to observe carefully their deconstruction and pursue it to the point where these concepts become indistinct and where—beyond Heidegger—a Spinozian force of existence emerges. (shrink)
ABSTRACT According to Genevieve Lloyd, conatus is manifested in body as a fixed ratio of motion and rest and in mind as increasing adequate understanding. The commentary provides textual analysis to resolve the apparent paradox that bodily stability corresponds to intellectual growth. The activity of adequate ideas and passivity of inadequate ideas are identified as analogues of motion and rest in Spinoza’s philosophy of mind and these are put to work in exploring what is required for increasing one’s adequate understanding: (...) that one can acquire adequate ideas only by extending one’s receptivity to being affected and by forming inadequate ideas. Thus a mind’s ratio between adequate and inadequate ideas is maintained even as it gains and exercises greater power. This appreciation of Spinoza’s epistemology supports Lloyd’s characterisation of his philosophy as “thinking from within the totality of being”. (shrink)
Unamuno saw in his defense of religious faith a response to Nietzsche’s criticisms of the Christian, agapeic way of life. To Nietzsche’s claim that engaging in this way of life is something antinatural and life-denying, insofar as it goes against the (alleged) natural tendency to increase one’s own power, Unamuno responded that an agapeic way of life is precisely a direct expression of this natural tendency. Far from being something that goes against our natural inclinations, Unamuno says, an agapeic way (...) of life is a life-affirming exercise, something we are led to given our own natural condition. Hence, the aim of this essay is to comment on Unamuno’s criticism of Nietzsche and to point out the philosophical relevance of Unamuno’s attempt to provide a natural foundation for religious faith when assessing Nietzsche’s criticisms of the possibility of carrying out a Christian, agapeic way of life. (shrink)
Este artigo compara e contrasta dois conceitos filosóficos provenientes de distintas linhagens de pensamento: de um lado, o _clinamen _de Lucrécio; do outro, o _conatus _de Espinosa. O que fomentou minha pesquisa foi uma conjugação dessas noções tal como proposto por Deleuze no apêndice de seu _Logique du sens_. Nesse sentido, a primeira seção está orientada tendo em vista uma elucidação da filosofia de Lucrécio — consequentemente, também a de Epicuro — e, especificamente, uma interpretação do desvio dos átomos ou (...) _clinamen_ em combinação com o tópico da liberdade. A segunda seção se dedica a clarificar a metafísica de Espinosa e a acomodação do tema da liberdade dentro de seu robusto enquadramento necessitário, entrelaçado com o motivo do _conatus _ou esforço de auto-preservação. Contra a leiture de Deleuze, entretanto, argumentarei que _clinamen _e _conatus _pertencem à sistemas metafísicos que são praticamente incompatíveis e que corroboram um entendimento diferente sobre liberdade e necessidade. (shrink)
Si chacun a le pouvoir de vivre selon la raison, comment se fait-il que si peu la suivent, alors même qu'un grand nombre s'en réclament? Certains voient le meilleur, mais font le pire. D'autres font le pire en croyant qu'il est le meilleur. Tous font tout ce qu'ils peuvent, et se réjouissent finalement de ce qu'ils sont. La philosophie de Spinoza rend compte de ces paradoxes : toute puissance est en acte. Qui peut le plus s'efforce nécessairement de faire le (...) plus et ne peut faire moins. Qui peut le moins fait le moins volontiers, sans pouvoir faire plus. Chacun est aussi parfait qu'il peut l'être, et agit de la façon dont il y est disposé, malgré lui mais de gré, si ce n'est de bon gré. Le concept de disposition, tel qu'il s'élabore dans l'Éthique, permet de saisir la pratique commune des hommes dans un cadre nécessitariste et actualiste, de l'inconstance affective à la régularité des coutumes, des obsessions passionnelles à l'éducation et à l'affranchissement de la servitude. L'existence humaine n'est pas une comédie, encore moins une tragédie. Avec Spinoza, il s'agit d'en produire l'intelligence. (shrink)
In Spinoza’s metaphysics, we encounter many puzzling doctrines that appear to entangle metaphysical notions with cognitive, logical, and epistemic ones. According to him, a substance is that which can be conceived through itself and a mode is that which is conceived through another. Thus, metaphysical notions, substance and mode, are defined through a notion that is either cognitive or logical, being conceived through. He defines an attribute as that which an intellect perceives as constituting the essence of a substance. Intellectual (...) perception, something cognitive, is used to define an attribute, something metaphysical. And he claims that if something exists there is a reason why it exists and if something doesn’t exist there is also a reason why it doesn’t. Thus, a reason, something cognitive or epistemic, is necessary for existence or nonexistence. What are we to make of the intimate connections that Spinoza sees between metaphysical, cognitive, logical, and epistemic notions? Between being and reason? In this book, I argue for what might be called a realist interpretation: although Spinoza is confident that the order of being mirrors the order of reason, he believes that they are two orders, not one. There is inherence over and above conceptual dependence; there is causation in addition to causal explanation; the world has a nature that we can grasp and that our way of grasping it does not interpose an impenetrable conceptual veil between it and us. (shrink)
This paper argues that Baruch Spinoza, a 17th-century philosopher committed to the pure immanence of the natural world and the location of human striving firmly within that natural order, provides unlikely resources for addressing our current ecological crisis. My central claim is that Spinoza's views on power grasp the amoral striving characteristic of all natural beings, while simultaneously offering an immanent basis for normative critique. This, I will argue, is especially potent for the work of addressing ecological harm and fashioning (...) ways of human life consistent with planetary survival. Spinoza's central insight—that the conatus, or characteristic striving to persevere in one's being, actually powers... (shrink)
Spinoza has three names. Bento built by Portuguese Jewish parents, Baruch called by friends of Jewish community, and Benetictus named himself after being expelled from a 24-year-old Jewish church. Although he lived a short life, he was as diverse as the three names. He lived with various identities as a minority Jew. He lived as minority among the minorities. His life as a minority is intermingled with his Ethica line. This article is a cultural-ecological reading of his life and ideas (...) in Ethica. Of course, Spinoza does not comment specifically on culture itself. However, there is a critical reflection on the political and cultural hegemony of the time in Ethica. In particular, I try to read cultural ecology based on Spinoza's concept of Conatus. The reason why this article attempts a cultural ecology approach is to take a deep look at Spinoza, who is both modern and post-modern. He accuses the barbarity of dichotomy accelerated by Descartes with monism of 'deus siva natrura'. Spinoza considers the dualistic model, which became the philosophical foundation of cultural hegemony of the time, by converting it into an ecological paradigm. I look forward to meeting Spinoza from the cultural ecology perspective, who guide the path of freedom from emotional prejudice against other cultures. (shrink)
Conatus, the law of self-preservation, is an inherent striving of beings to persist on its own being.. Spinoza, after explaining the conatus and justifying the problem of self-destruction, rejected many of common concepts of his predecessors’ philosophical tradition and redefined them in a different way by conatus doctrine. Spinoza denied teleological interpretation of world events and offered a nonteleological explanation of them by “desire” and “appetite” that rooted in the conatus principle. Spinoza Presents special interpretation of Ethical act root and (...) lays the ethical good in the “Human will” and in the “nature of the objects”. For Spinoza, the ethics rooted in philosophical necessity, therefore, he tries to establish his own ethics on a strong foundation- that is individual egoism - which is rooted in the conatus doctrine. (shrink)
This paper presents Spinozaʼs reflection on the relationship between the concepts of slavery, conatus and desire. According to Spinoza, the man is not available at the command of others. This requires an investigation into the mode of subjection and slavery condition, defined as inability to achieve its useful and to act freely from the negative emotional constraints. In the description of slavery, and the use of historical examples that exemplify it, it is found a classical aristotelian source. The french debate (...) in recent years focused on the political value of desire and conatus, concepts that are fundamental to interpret the condition of slavery and the domain of the minds. (shrink)
Steven Nadler has argued that Spinoza can, should, and does allow for the possibility of suicide committed as a free and rational action. Given that the conatus is a striving for perfection, Nadler argues, there are cases in which reason guides a person to end her life based on the principle of preferring the lesser evil. If so, Spinoza’s disparaging statements about suicide are intended to apply only to some cases, whereas in others he would grant that suicide is dictated (...) by reason. Here, I object to Nadler’s interpretation by showing that it conflicts with Spinoza’s metaphysical psychology. Even given Nadler’s interpretation of the conatus doctrine, the possibility that reason could guide a person to commit suicide is incompatible with the conatus of the mind. Spinoza holds that the mind cannot contain an adequate idea ‘that excludes the existence of our body’. Yet, as I argue, in order for reason to guide a person voluntarily to end her life, she would need to have an adequate idea representing her death – an idea that excludes the existence of her body. For this reason, Spinoza's system rules out the possibility of rational suicide. (shrink)
El concepto de conatus ha recibido diversas interpretaciones en la obra de Spinoza, y sus mayores controversias residen en la manera en que éste se aplica a ciertos modos de la Naturaleza –en especial, el ser humano–. Problemas como el suicidio, de ese lado, o la estabilidad de ciertas partículas subatómicas, por otro, han parecido poner en entredicho la integridad de este concepto. En este artículo perfilaré una interpretación del mismo que esquiva estas ambigüedades, argumentando que este concepto se presenta (...) en forma eminentemente ontológica y, a su amparo, las principales problemáticas en torno al mismo se tornan espurias. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the question whether Spinoza can account for the necessity of death. I argue that he cannot because within his ethical intellectualist system the subject cannot understand the cause of her death, since by understanding it renders it harmless. Then, I argue that Spinoza could not solve this difficulties because of deeper commitments of his system. At the end I draw a historical parallel to the problem from medieval philosophy.
Spinoza (1632-1677) writes in the fourth proposition of the third part of his masterpiece, the Ethics (1677), the bold statement that self-destruction is impossible. This view seems to be very hard to understand given the fact that in our western world we have recently been confronted with an increasing number of suicides, all of which are - per definition – ―actions of killing oneself deliberately‖. Firstly, this article aims at showing, based on the last chapter of the first part of (...) the Cogitata metaphysica (1661), that Spinoza might have applied the mechanical analogy of a body in motion in his views on life. This interpretation allows to resolve the paradox of suicide in Spinoza. Secondly, this paper gives a new interpretation of one of the three categories of suicide (the ―Seneca category‖), which the Dutch philosopher distinguishes in E4p20s, making a link with his definition 39 of timor. (shrink)
Spinoza’s claim that self-preservation is the foundation of virtue makes for the point of departure of this philosophical investigation into what a Spinozistic model of moral education might look like. It is argued that Spinoza’s metaphysics places constraints on moral education insofar as an educational account would be affected by Spinoza’s denial of the objectivity of moral knowledge, his denial of the existence of free will, and of moral responsibility. This article discusses these challenges in some detail, seeking to construe (...) a credible account of moral education based on the insight that self-preservation is not at odds with benevolence, but that the self-preservation of the teacher is instead conditioned by the intellectual deliberation of the students. However, it is also concluded that while benevolence retains an important place in Spinoza’s ethics, his causal determinism poses a severe threat to a convincing account of moral education insofar as moral education is commonly understood to involve an effort to influence the actions of students relative to some desirable goal. (shrink)
Two priority problems frustrate our understanding of Spinoza on desire [cupiditas]. The first problem concerns the relationship between desire and the other two primary affects, joy [laetitia] and sadness [tristitia]. Desire seems to be the oddball of this troika, not only because, contrary to the very definition of an affect, desires do not themselves consist in changes in one's power of acting, but also because desire seems at once more and less basic than joy and sadness. The second problem concerns (...) the priority of desires and evaluative judgements. While 3p9s and 3p39s suggest that evaluative judgements are posterior to desires, Andrew Youpa has recently argued that passages in Ethics 4 indicate that rational evaluative judgements can give rise to, rather than arise out of, desires. I aim to offer solutions to these problems that reveal the elegance and coherence of Spinoza's account of motivation. Ultimately, I argue that whereas emotions and d.. (shrink)
“자기 존재 유지의 노력”(코나투스)은 스피노자의 사상을 “긍정의 철학”으로 규정하게 해 온 핵심 개념이다. 그러나 코나투스는 인간을 예속적이고 심지어 자기 파괴적인 삶으로 몰아가기도 한다. 이것이 모순되어 보인다면 이는 코나투스를 흔히 단순체의 관점에서 보기 때문이다. 나는 스피노자에게서 모든 개체가 복합체인 만큼 코나투스 역시 복합적임을, 그리고 이 복합성은 부분의 다수성이나 전체 구조의 복잡성보다 더 역동적인 갈등적 성격을 가짐을 보여준다. 더 구체적으로는 첫째, 코나투스가 내적 부정을 겪을 수 있으며, 이는 둘째, 전체로서의 개체만이 아니라, 개체의 변용들에도 별도의 코나투스가 있고, 후자의 자기 긍정성이 개체 전체의 본성에 (...) 상반될 수 있기 때문이다. 곧 변용의 상대적 독립성이 개체의 자기 파괴적 행위의 원인이다. 하지만 이 독립성은 변용의 자체적 힘보다는 개체들 간의 복합적 연관에 바탕을 두는 한에서, 자유의지에 기대지 않고 개체의 역량을 강화할 수 있는 조건이기도 하다. 결국 코나투스의 복합성을 제시함으로써 나는 우리 안에서 일어나는 긍정과 도약의 느낌을 우리 자신의 능동성으로 착각해서는 안 되며, 이 느낌 역시 원인을 통해 인식되어야 함을 환기시킨다. (shrink)
Éric Delassus | : Selon Fabienne Brugère, un point de rencontre existe entre l’éthique spinoziste et les éthiques du care, le care pouvant être envisagé comme une réactualisation du conatus spinoziste. Cet article vise à démontrer que cette convergence peut s’établir à partir d’une éthique narrative inspirée de la pensée de Paul Ricoeur. Cela concerne principalement la perception que l’on peut avoir de soi en tant que corps et esprit, dans la mesure où l’esprit est défini par Baruch Spinoza comme (...) « idée du corps ». L’éthique spinoziste invite à se rendre utile aux autres pour augmenter notre puissance d’être et nous libérer d’une servitude qui n’est pas sans rapport avec la vulnérabilité telle que définie dans les éthiques du care. L’humain.e vulnérable a besoin pour se sentir exister d’avoir une idée cohérente de son corps, et le récit est l’une des voies lui permettant de progresser dans cette direction. Encore faut-il, pour y parvenir, trouver des pourvoyeuses et pourvoyeurs de care disposé.e.s à écouter, aptes à susciter en soi le désir de se raconter. | : According to Fabienne Brugère, there is common ground between Spinoza’s ethics and the ethics of care, which can be regarded as a renewal of the Spinozan concept of ‘conatus.’ This article aims to demonstrate that this form of convergence can be based upon a narrative ethic as inspired by Paul Ricoeur’s thought. It is mainly about how people can perceive themselves both as mind and body, insofar as “mind” is defined by Spinoza as the “idea of the body.” The Spinozan ethic leads us to make ourselves useful to other people in order to expand our capacity to be and to free ourselves from a form of servitude that is somewhat linked to vulnerability as it is defined in the ethics of care. Therefore, vulnerable people each need to develop consistent ideas of their bodies if they wish to feel that they do exist. Narrative is one of the many ways of advancing in that direction. However, vulnerable people should not be alone; they must be accompanied by care providers who have a sympathetic ear and who can arouse in them the desire to tell and share their stories. (shrink)
English summary: Am I free? Is this not the most fundamental question for all humans? For Spinoza, for us to be free, we must first free ourselves from the illusion of freedom; between determinism and free will is true freedom. Through Spinozas philosophy of desire and reason, the idea of living with our desires without being a slave to them allows us to come closer to answering the question of whether or not we are free. French description: Suis-je libre? N'est-ce (...) pas la question la plus fondamentale que se pose l'etre humain? Car de la reponse que chacun se donne depend la maniere de vivre et de penser. Or, il y a pour Spinoza un risque majeur: tomber dans l'illusion de la liberte. C'est le pire prejuge, la plus dangereuse erreur; se croire libre alors qu'on ne l'est pas. Pour etre veritablement libre, nous dit Spinoza, il faut avant tout se liberer de l'illusion de la liberte! Il n'y a pas ici de paradoxe mais une exigence de la pensee: entre le determinisme et le libre arbitre, il y a la vraie liberte. Ainsi la liberte est un combat contre le pessimisme du je n'y peux rien et l'optimisme du je fais ce que je veux. Si la liberte est une realite fondamentale de la nature humaine, elle est aussi une exigence permanente. Suis-je libre? C'est la question qu'il faut se poser tout au long de sa vie. Pour cette tache difficile mais passionnante, Spinoza est a mon sens indispensable. Des ma decouverte de la philosophie, j'ai voulu comprendre de quelle maniere Spinoza, le philosophe du desir et de la raison, nous parlait de liberte. La liberte individuelle d'abord: comment vivre avec ses desirs sans en etre esclave mais sans y renoncer? La connaissance nous aide et la necessite ne s'oppose plus a la liberte. La liberte politique ensuite: comment vivre en societe avec sa personnalite mais en harmonie avec les autres? La raison nous aide et la paix ne s'oppose plus a la liberte. Dans les deux cas la liberte est possible sans aucune aide, sans aucun ideal, sans aucune reference transcendante, a partir de la seule Terre et de la vie reelle de l'homme. Dans ma vie personnelle comme dans mon engagement collectif, les idees de Spinoza m'ont toujours guide, eclaire, libere. Elles me conduisent encore. Je dois d'ailleurs remercier Andre Comte-Sponville et Marcel Conche qui m'ont grandement aide a m'orienter sur ce chemin, des ma jeunesse. La liberte est une lutte infinie, nous dit Spinoza, la plus belle des luttes. J.F. Robredo. (shrink)
This paper aims at reconstructing the ethical issues raised by Spinoza's early Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect. Specifically, I argue that Spinoza takes issue with Descartes’ epistemology in order to support a form of “ethical intellectualism” in which knowledge is envisaged as both necessary and sufficient to reach the supreme good. First, I reconstruct how Descartes exploits the distinction between truth and certainty in his Discourse on the Method. On the one hand, this distinction acts as the basis (...) for Descartes’ epistemological rules while, on the other hand, it implies a “morale par provision” in which adequate knowledge is not strictly necessary to practice virtue. Second, I show that Spinoza rejects the distinction between truth and certainty and thus the methodological doubt. This move leads Spinoza to substitute the Cartesian Cogito with the idea of God as the only adequate standard of knowledge, through which the mind can attain the rules to reach the supreme good. Third, I demonstrate that in the Short Treatise Spinoza develops this view by equating intellect and will and thus maintaining that only adequate knowledge can help to contrast affects. However, I also insist that Spinoza's early epistemology is unable to explain why human beings drop conceive of the idea of God inadequately. Thus, I suggest that in his later writings Spinoza accounts for the insufficiency of adequate knowledge in opposing the power of the imagination and passions by reconnecting the nature of ideas with the mind's conatus. (shrink)
This paper argues that Spinoza's notions of “conatus” and “power of acting” are derived by means of generalization from the notions of “force of motion” and “force of determination” that Spinoza discussed in his Principles of Cartesian Philosophy to account for interactions among bodies on the basis of their degrees of contrariety. I argue that in the Ethics, Spinoza's ontology entails that interactions must always be accounted for in terms of degrees of “agreement or disagreement in nature” among interacting things. (...) The notion of “power of acting” is used to express the extent to which a thing's conatus is aided or restrained by external causes on the basis of its degree of agreement or disagreement in nature with them. “Power of acting” generalizes the same approach and method of resolution at the basis of the notion of “force of determination” in order to account for causal interactions not only among the simplest bodies but also among more complex individuals. (shrink)
In this essay, I will begin by delineating the context of the conatus principle, after which I will provide a reading of the two propositions (EIIIP6 and P7) that contain the very core of the theory. This in turn will enable me to explain how Spinoza’s theory of conatus is connected to his views on desire, activity, and teleology.
Introduction Conatus is a specific concept within Descartes’s physics. In particular, it assumes a crucial importance in the purely mechanistic description of the nature of light – an issue that Des- cartes considered one of the most crucial challenges, and major achievements, of his natural phil- osophy. According to Descartes’s cosmology, the universe – understood as a material continuum in which there is no vacuum – is composed of a number of separate yet interconnected vortices. Each of these vortices consists (...) in a set of bands rotating around their centres. The bands are com- posed of corpuscles of the three elements, each distinguished on the basis of their different shapes and sizes. The small globules of the second element, although impeded by the other parts of heaven, strive to move away from the centre of the vortex around which they revolve, thus exerting a certain force against the surrounding bodies. This striving or conatus, though a mere force rather than a genuine motion, is transmitted instan- taneously and along straight lines from body to body. According to Descartes, then, the nature of light consists in this striving alone. This account must be understood as strictly connected to the fundamental laws that regulate the Cartesian world. It is particularly important to recall that for Descartes the centrifugal force exerted by a rotating body is understood to be a consequence of the intrinsic rectilinearity of every motion. As the second of the three Laws of Nature set forth in Book II of the Principles of Philosophy establishes, “all motion is in itself rectilinear; and hence any body moving in a circle tends to move away from the centre of the circle which it describes as proved by the fact that a stone rotating in a sling tends to move centrifugally along the tangent of each point described by a circle.1 Similarly, each of the globules of the second element “strives to recede with a great force from the centre of the vortex in which it rotates; it is in fact prevented by the other globules placed all around, not differently than a stone in a sling”. Within this framework, as I show later, conatus occurs when a body’s intrinsic tendency to rectilinear motion is impeded by an external constraint. As Stephen Gaukroger notes, the use of the term conatus in the Principles – like “vis” and “ action ” – shows that Descartes “cannot avoid dynamic terminology”, despite his declared intent “to construe motion in a purely kinematic way”. Indeed, Gaukroger observes that the notions of force action and striving are systematically employed in the Principles – appearing 290, 59 and 8 times, respectively. Also noteworthy, conatus was – together with the more familiar concepts of actio and vis – a significant element of the conceptual apparatus of Scholastic natural philosophy. As will be seen later – and this is the first goal of this paper – here the concept of conatus had a very specific function. Indeed, it was a central part of the Aristotelian- Scholastic account of gravitation. Conatus was used to refer to the striving of a body to move towards its natural place – especially in cases where its natural motion was hindered or impeded by an external mover. This specific use of the concept of conatus can be found in texts on natural philosophy from the end of the sixteenth through the late seventeenth century. Notably, it occurs in some of the late -Scho- lastic texts which held special significance for Descartes’s thought. Therefore, Descartes introduces conatus in a context in which this concept already had a very specific meaning, and one of which he was very probably aware. The possible relations between these two apparently very different con- cepts have therefore to be scrutinized. I thereby propose to undertake a comparison between the Scho- lastic and the Cartesian conceptions of conatus. I hope to show that certain traits of the former are indeed echoed by the latter, although adapted to the much changed physical paradigm of Cartesian physics. In fact, Descartes’s conatus, though sharing some important similarities with the old one, underwent significant transformations in terms of both its meaning and its application. However, I hope to show that these concepts are both used to describe the behaviour of bodies in relation to their intrinsic motive tendency, and in particular when this tendency is impeded or prevented. Such a reconstruction offers two main areas of interest. On an immediate level, it furthers the general efforts of scholars over the past decades to reconstruct the full extent of the relations between Descartes’s thought and Scholastic philosophy. However, there is another significant reason for taking an interest in the ties between the Scholastic and the Cartesian conceptions of conatus. Indeed, the Cartesian conatus must be seen as crucial to a proper understanding of the broader, diverse conceptualization that this idea enjoyed in the thought of many of the most important philosophers of the early modern period, namely Spinoza, Hobbes and Leibniz. In particular, Spinoza, were directly influenced by Descartes in their unique formulations of conatus. Thus a reconstruction of the context in which Descartes formulated his conatus and of its relations to a pre-existing Scholastic conception will enable us to better reconstruct the history of this idea in the early modern period. The paper is structured as follows: in the first part, I provide a thorough review of the Scho- lastic employment of the concept conatus – both its meaning and the extent of its usage. I then show that it occurs in some of the most prominent Cartesian sources. Finally, I shall provide an account of Descartes’s theory of circular motion and conatus with the specific aim of empha- sizing the elements of both continuity and discontinuity that justify the claim that Descartes’s con- ception of conatus is reminiscent of the Scholastic one. (shrink)
When McTaggart puts Spinoza on his short list of philosophers who considered time unreal, he is falling in line with a reading of Spinoza’s philosophy of time advanced by contemporaneous British Idealists and by Hegel. The idealists understood that there is much at stake concerning the ontological status of Spinozistic time. If time is essential to motion then temporal idealism entails that nearly everything—apart from God conceived sub specie aeternitatis—is imaginary. I argue that although time is indeed ‘imaginary’—in a sense (...) ‘no one doubts’ as Spinoza says—there is no good reason to infer that bodies, the infinite modes, and conatus are imaginary in the same sense. To avoid this conflation, we need to follow Spinoza in carefully distinguishing between tempus and duratio. Duration is not only real; it has all the structure needed to ground Spinozistic motion, bodies and conatus. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to explore how nurses are enrolled into and take part in programmes of efficiency and effectiveness. Using the philosophical theorizing about desire as a force or power, I focus specifically on what is understood as relations between desire and productivity in current Westernized health‐care systems. Use is made of the idea from Spinoza that human emotions consist only of pleasure, pain, and desire as these act as a motive force. This is then linked with (...) more contemporary work on the politics and discourses of desire. A report on the implementation of a productivity programme in the United Kingdom, The Productive Ward: Releasing time to care™, is explored for the ways its developers set about motivating nurses to endorse and enact the programme. In exploring the mechanics of desire in these processes, a view of desire as productive is promoted. Looking at desire as assembling actions, and an assemblage, moves the analysis to an interrogation of actions and practices used to enable and bring nurses to the process. Moreover, in working through the various modalities and operations of desire, the potential and limits of such projects are abstracted. Such potentials and limits are necessarily set by the intensification of power and desire in the capitalist economy, saturating areas of nursing, and health‐care provision. (shrink)
There can be little doubt that without Spinoza, German Idealism would have been just as impossible as it would have been without Kant. Yet the precise nature of Spinoza's influence on the German Idealists has hardly been studied in detail. This volume of essays by leading scholars sheds light on how the appropriation of Spinoza by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel grew out of the reception of his philosophy by, among others, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Jacobi, Herder, Goethe, Schleiermacher, Maimon and, of course, (...) Kant. The volume thus not only illuminates the history of Spinoza's thought, but also initiates a genuine philosophical dialogue between the ideas of Spinoza and those of the German Idealists. The issues at stake - the value of humanity; the possibility and importance of self-negation; the nature and value of reason and imagination; human freedom; teleology; intuitive knowledge; the nature of God - remain of the highest philosophical importance today. (shrink)