segunda-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2008

a dica do mauro / mauro's tip: spinoza to oldenburg

- With permission from

EL:L02:276.Letter 02(02)
Spinoza to Oldenburg.

Oldenburg correspondence}

[Spinoza defines "G-D", and "attribute" and sends definitions, axioms, and first four propositions of Book I. of Ethics. Some errors of Bacon and Descartes discussed.]

[L2:1]. Illustrious Sir,—How pleasant your friendshipis to me, you may yourself judge, if your modesty will allow you to reflect on the abundance of your own excellences. Indeed the thought of these makes me seem not a little bold in entering into such a compact, the more so when I consider that between friends all things, and especially things spiritual, ought to be in common. However, this must lie at the charge of your modesty and kindness rather than of myself. You have been willing to lower yourself through the former and to fill me with the abundance of the latter, till I am no longer afraid to accept the close friendship, which you hold out to me, and which you deign to ask of me in return; no effort on my part shall be spared to render it lasting.


As for my mental endowments, such as they are, I would willingly allow
you to share them, even though I knew it would be to my own great hindrance. But this is not meant as an excuse for denying to you what you ask by the rights of friendship.
I will therefore endeavour to explain my
opinions on the topics you touched on; though I scarcely hope, unless your kindness intervene, that I shall thus draw the
bonds of our friendship


I will then begin by speaking briefly of G-D, Whom I define as a Being
consisting in infinite attributes, whereof each is infinite or supremely perfect after its kind. You must observe that by attribute I mean everything, which is conceived through itself and in itself, so that the conception of it does not involve the conception of anything else. For instance, extension is conceived through itself and in itself, but motion is not.

The latter is conceived throughsomething else, for the conception of it implies extension. ]Bk.XIII:623E1:D.3&4:45.[


That the definition above given of G-D is true appears from the fact, that
by G-D we mean a Being supremely perfect and absolutely infinite.

That such a Beingexists may easily be proved from the definition; but as this is not the place for such proof, I will pass it over. WhatI am bound here to prove, in order to satisfy the first inquiry of my distinguished questioner, are the following consequences; first that in the universe there cannot exist twosubstances without their
differing utterly in ess
ence; secondly that substance cannot be produced or created—existence pertains to its actual essence; thirdly, that all substance must be infinite or supremely perfect after its kind.

VI, & VIII:47; Bk.XIV:1:118


When these points have been
demonstrated, my distinguished questioner will readily perceive my drift, if hereflects at the same time on the definition of G-D. In order to prove them clearly and briefly, I can think of nothing better than to submit them to
the bar of your judgment proved in
the geometrical method. [The allusion is to E1. Beginning to Prop.4.] I therefore enclose them separately and await your verdict upon them.


Again, you ask me what errors I detect in the Cartesiansand Baconian
philosophies. It is not my custom to expose the errorsof others, nevertheless I will yield to your request. The first and the greatest error is, that these philosophers have strayed so far from the knowledge of the first cause and origin of all things; thesecond is, that they did not know the true nature of the human mind; the third,that they never grasped the true cause of error. The necessity for correct knowledge on these three points can only be ignored by persons completely devoid of learning and training. {essay2:N8}


That they have wandered astray from the knowledgeof the first cause,
and of the human mind,may easily be gathered from the truth of thethree propositions given above;I therefore devote myself entirely to the demonstration of the third error.
Of Bacon I shallsay very little, for he speaks
very confusedly on the point, and works out scarcely any proofs: he simply narrates. In the first place he assumes, that the human intellect is liable to err, not only throughthe fallibility of the senses, but also solely through its own nature, and that it frames its conceptions in accordance with the analogy of its own nature, not with the analogy of the universe, so that it is like a mirror receiving rays from external objects unequally, and mingling its own nature with the nature of things, &c.


Secondly, that the human intellect is, by reason of its own nature, prone
to abstractions; such things as are in flux it feigns to be constant, &c.


Thirdly, that the human intellect continually augments, and is unable to
come to a stand or to rest content. The other causes which he assigns may all be reduced to the one Cartesian principle, that the human will is free andmore extensive than the intellect, or, as Verulam himself more confusedly puts it, that "the understanding
is not a dry light, but receives
infusion from the will." (We may here observe that Verulam often employs "intellect"as synonymous with mind, differing in this respect
Descartes). This cause, then, leaving aside the others as unimportant, I shall show to be false; indeed its falsity would be evident to its supporters, if they would consider, that will in general differs from this or that particular volition in the same way as whiteness differs from this or that 2P49 white object, or humanity from this or that man. It is, therefore, as impossible to conceive, that will is the cause of a given volition, as to conceive that humanity is the cause of Peter and Paul.


Hence, as will is merely an entity of the reason,and cannot be called the
of particular volitions, and as some cause is needed for the exist
ence of such volitions, these latter cannot be called free, but are necessarily such as they are determined by their causes; lastly,according to Descartes, errors are themselves particular volitions; hence it necessarily follows that errors, or, in other words, particular volitions, are not free, but are determined by external causes, and in nowise by the will. This is what I undertook to prove.


Spinoza to Oldenburg
Sept. 1661?

Letter 02
Bk.XIV:1:1184; Bk.XVIII:2713Bk.XIV:1:57-59.

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)
was a Jewish-Portuguese-Dutch Philosopher.

Spinoza's insights help evolve all Religions to a Universal Religion.
Just as the Hebrew Bible was the Constitution of the then Hebrew State, so the World Bible will
be the Constitution of the to-be World State.