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À Bout de Souffle
Out of Breath
Spinoza
278
Benedict de Spinoza may be the first person I have read about that was excommunicated from Judaism. It is admirable that he stuck by his beliefs even though he faced persecution from his family and religious leaders and peers. Other philosophers saved themselves from prosecution by arguing things they probably did not actually personally believe. For example, when Descartes told his readers to set aside the notion of God to understand his famous meditations on dreaming and the evil genius, he followed it up by basically reiterating the ontological argument for the existence of God invented by St. Anselm. I feel that he did this to save himself from any persecution. But Spinoza, on the other hand, was not too concerned with pleasing others by going against his beliefs, and so he was excommunicated for his understanding of God and nature being one in the same, and that God did not actually have a personality. This devotion to the topic is what sets Ethics apart from other serious works to me. His assuredness in his own beliefs that he reasoned from scratch shows that Spinoza had a strong personal character and was surely underappreciated in his time.

Spinoza’s idea of God is probably close to what I would subscribe to if I could bother with being spiritual. It relies heavily on logic, does not have anything to do with any type of incredible mythology, and does not deal with a set of strict rules nor arbitrary obligations. What it does seem to offer is a précised system of belief that uses common sense and everyday morals. Spinoza saw the Hebrew Bible not as fact, but as a collection of allegories to show by example the nature of God/natural existence. I feel that even if religions were debunked, they still can teach valuable lessons about ethics. I think Spinoza shows how religion could be found useful within a secular view.
2 Comments.


Malebranche
"Spinoza who appears to have learned more from Malebranche than from Descartes"

Yom Kippur

And thanks for posting about Spinoza!

I see God in NuTang, do you?
» JMC on 2006-10-05 04:10:08

If you look at the core values of what any religion teaches, it definitely looks as if a Monk or someone sat down and looked at what they felt were all of the worst things that can be found in humanity and then created a "diety" who taught that such things were the root of all evil. So I do applaud religions whose primary goals are to make humans better people.

What bothers me about religions is that some humans then use what they translate that religions teachings into something that they can wield against anything that they dislike. (EG: "God hates homosexuals!" and/or "Allah says kill all Americans for they art infidels") Of course it always depends upon the individual "worshipper" as to what they chose to do with religious teachings.
» etheracide on 2006-10-05 05:30:08

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