An English In Kentucky


















Sunday September 8th 2019Tim Candler9


     Spinoza died in the February of 1677, he was 44. He was of Portuguese Jewish origin and he lived all his life in the Netherlands. Not saying Locke stole his ideas, just saying Locke became a physician before he involved himself in Political Economics, he wrote in English and Locke died 1704, he was 72. Nor was Spinoza one to mess around and gloat when it came to reason. He essentially argued that reason could never 'defeat' emotion, just a lost cause to think that it could. The only way to manage an emotion was to dominate it with a more powerful emotion. Here he chose to think there were two kinds of emotions, the one kind were passive emotions, the other kind were active emotions, and the difference between them was the extent to which the emotion could be sensibly understood. And the thing about it was that if you had an understanding of the true causes of passive emotions, you could actually begin to think about them reasonably and turn them into active emotions. So, for example, if you understand that an emotion is a product of chemicals on the mood in your brain you might not feel any different but you can begin to cheer up a little bit as a result of knowing a possible answer to the question why. Freud, who died in 1939, was the same way in his thinking about emotions, and his psychoanalytical approach is all about determining causes of unwelcome thoughts and emotions then 'defeating' them.


     "What," you ask, "did Spinoza mean by emotions." Well as I understand it, he reckoned that all emotions came from Happiness and on the other side Unhappiness. The degrees in between had to do with all sorts of things including the extent to which you understood the causes of the emotion. And I would imagine this is one of the reasons why Spinoza chose to think that up there as close to good as you could possibly get wasn't something like Love, rather it was Knowledge. It's also true that Spinoza was a bright star in the firmament of the various moods in society that resulted in the political arrangements and institutions that became Liberal Democracy. Also a chance that Spinoza might come up in one or other of the primary debates especially around climate change. "Good and Evil" Spinoza argued were relative and not absolute ideas, they were all about whether it was good and bad for people. Spinoza was also very positive, he reckoned that nothing happened by chance, and if things looked really bad, it was because we hadn't seen the whole picture, and this I'd imagine would apply to, for example, the extinction of our own species. Mind you with respect to Knowledge not sure that the age of our planet and the various mind blowing geological phases and extinctions it has been through were fully grasped in the early 1700's.


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