Re: [spinoza-ethics] Experimenting with experience
>I remembered as soon as I saw Loren's name in the credits, before theIn the sense of the "common" order and connection of causes, etc? That seems
>film's action began, that the proprietress would eventually take out
>a properly silenced pistol and shoot the Sophia Loren character.
>Okay. Three or four times before the assassination scene I found
>myself about to leave for the mowing chore, BUT EACH TIME HEARD
>MYSELF SAYING, "I'LL LEAVE RIGHT AFTER SOPHIA GETS SHOT."
>Question: Why did I want to stay to see that beautiful woman get
>shot? And why, in fact, did I leave immediately after that scene?
>A kind of answer (which is not so much an answer to my question as
>SunHunter's): There is and must be an "intellectual order" that
>culminated in my decision to await Sophia's assassination.
another avenue of investigation that is psychological in the sense that it
involves conditioning via the common order of nature. However, because of
the context in which Spinoza uses the phrase "intellectual order" I think
that he means that other order of causality that descends from an intuitive
knowledge of the true good, to reasoning about what inner and outer
conditions are most conducive to its preservation (which is synonymous with
seeking our own true advantage), and then using active imagination and memory
to maximize the probability that the entire linkage will become thus
activated associatively even when the mind has become otherwise confused and
passive. That's my paraphrase, anyway. I think that everyone does this, but
to a very limited degree, and rarely perhaps with what the Buddhists would
call "right motive." In other words, often when I find myself envisioning
how I will respond to possible difficulties, I also find that my motives tend
to be defensive, arising from fear, as when I imagine how I will deal with
confusing problems at work, or with my children, etc. This doesn't produce
any understanding of the sort I'm after, as the upper links of my scheme are
reached as soon as the negativity is neutralized. What Spinoza describes
seems to encompass the complete potential of a human being to behave
>I was not conscious of that order's unfolding, only of its final expressionas
>a desire.Spinoza points out, as we are aware by now, that it is impossible to grasp
that unfolding completely. That's a job for an attribute. At times,
although not in this case, we may have awareness about a certain number of
links leading up to the desire. If we fail to recognize that we are merely
ignorant of the preceding causes, we may feel we have free will. I'm just
taking this opportunity to remember how vital Spinoza says it is to
understand the nature of volitions and the will. Otherwise, we're back to
vice and virtue, etc.
>Now, it is clear to me that this desire had nothingI sincerely feel doubtful about this. Spinoza speaks of referring an emotion
>whatsoever to do with the preservation of my body in its being,
to the mind, and of the conatus of ideas, but since desire (the awareness of
the appetite to remain watching the film) is an emotion, it involves the
mind's affirming of it's body a greater or lesser force for existence, by
definition. I think that after a bit of reflection, Frank will agree, but
more importantly, I feel that Spinoza's definition of an emotion reflects the
reality of the situation. How conscious am I of every part of the body, and
how conscious of it in totality? There are many possibilities, but using
Occam's razor, I wonder if maybe certain parts during the observed incident
may have been quite inert, and resistant to a contrary idea of going out to
work. Is riding a mower so enjoyable that removing one's gaze from Sophia
Loren in such a provocative role is achieved without any struggle? That
could be, sometimes our duties are clear enough, but a more subtle aspect of
these "experimental results" concerns the issues that arise from the fact
that obviously the brain is also part of the body. I want to get into that
more deeply at some point, as it's a source of confusion for me at times.
Keeping the sensations of the brain in their proper place in the
"intellectual order" presents some serious challenges, and may require at
least some sense of the formless silence from which ideas arise in the mind,
and the essential motion underlying all images and real things in extension.
>but that there must have been some way to interpret the wish as anIt can be so interpreted, and isn't that Spinoza's main M.O? He omits the
>expression of my mind's desire to preserve itself.
purely physical point of view because I think that since the attribute of
thought possesses the idea of God expressed through this or that human mind,
and of extension (as well as the ideas of the other attributes), it seems
therefore to be especially conducive to our good, but the ratio between mind
and body is always 1:1. The particularity of every synaptic impulse, however
immeasurably minute, is perfectly and identically present in mind as an idea.
So long as the physical body exists, Spinoza seems to say that this is so.
The idea of the body that is the first idea in the essence of the mind, is
compounded of adequate and inadequate ideas, and our knowledge of the body
insofar as it is conceived to be composed of parts is inadequate. I'm sort
of reviewing out loud here, and should anyone perceive an error in my
paraphrase of Spinoza's expressed ideas, please speak up.
"For the rest, I have neglected the outward modifications of the body
observable in emotions, such, for
instance, as trembling, pallor, sobbing, laughter, &c., for these are
attributable to the body only, without any reference to the mind."
>Given "the order and connection" of mind and body, then, I had to conclude"E2[A.III] Modes of thinking, such as love, desire, or any other of
>the "intellectual order" of my mind was involving my body in a
>scenario unrelated to a rational pursuit of existence.
the passions, do not take place, unless there be in the
same individual an idea of the thing loved, desired, &c."
It is true that the loved "object" (for lack of a better term) may be
incorporeal (that is the aim of Ethics) and unimaginable, but the desire we
are observing here doesn't fit that, so mustn't the desire here observed be
attributable to the images of things arising in the body as a result of its
impressions in parallel with ideas? Mind cannot determine body, etc.
Indeed, from the content of the post, the chains of causality of Frank's
final desire seem more obscure to me looked at as mind rather than as
physical inertia, so why, based on that observation alone, attribute it
primarily to the mind?
Of course, we must be careful to avoid Descartes, and all of that, though
experience leads me ever in that direction...
"Thus, when men say that this or that physical action has its origin in the
mind, which latter has dominion
over the body, they are using words without meaning, or are confessing
in specious phraseology that they are ignorant of the cause of the said
action, and do not wonder at it."
I -- my body -
>- was at the mercy of a virtually unconscious process, "unconscious"Okay, grant that the causes, in the sense of psychology, were unknown, but
>because I did not know -- then or now -- what order of ideas had led
>me to wish to wait for the assassination scene.
again, are we still extrapolating from the premise that the body is in no way
involved causally, which seems impossible, concerning a passion? Active
emotions are another story...they arise from the attribute of thought. Then,
their activity is reflected in the body, displacing any negative emotion that
is of lesser force.
"E520 Note.- We can in the same way, show, that there is no emotion
directly contrary to this love, whereby this love can be destroyed;
therefore we may conclude, that this love towards God is the most
constant of all the emotions, and that, in so far as it is referred to
the body, it cannot be destroyed, unless the body be destroyed also.
(20:3) As to its nature, in so far as it is referred to the mind only,
we shall presently inquire."
>But, out of my understanding of the psychology Spinoza has taught me, I doknow for
>certain that the wish was an expression of confused ideas. My mind'sI'm inferring that Frank affirms a certain necessity involved in the idea of
>desire to preserve its "intellectual order" was (and remains)
>contrary to any rational decision I might have made to preserve my
his mowing the lawn at that time, that it was therefore a "reasoned good,"
idea in contrast to a confused desire to remain watching TV until the fateful
scene. So, I agree that we are dealing here with the inertia, that is, the
passive conatus, of ideas, (as well as physical inertia, IMO) but again,
according to the "common order." I've found little good myself in mowing the
lawn, especially when it's hot.
>My wish to see the reenactment of Miss Loren's murderI find "integrity" a bit dissonant here, as I imagine opposing legions of
>maintains (only) the integrity of my "informational" self.
brain cells ready to silently fire away at the slightest hint of association,
accidental or otherwise. Would "inertial state" fit better, or "status quo"
>I do not have to understand the content of that information in order to knowPerhaps this is where some of the emotive power of the "intellectual order"
>that it exists, and once I know, intuitively, that it is primarily
>the product of confused ideas, I am brought in relation to that
>string of information as the proprietress with the silenced revolver
>was to Miss Loren. I am now master of my wish.
begins to arise. I have formed the idea that we need to begin to discuss
this in more depth. In getting into our emotions, is the aim to neutralize
the "evil" emotions so that I may go on reasoning away, or does it go much
further, such that reasoning yields to a conception of complete, perfect and
total integrity as the third kind of knowledge emerges through the specific
adequate ideas in the essence of the mind? Spinoza says that God is the cause
of our being under the form of eternity, which is obviously something
conceived entirely differently from our existence in the common order of
nature. The Tibetan Buddhists say that every atom in the universe has it own
Buddha. The seems similar to Spinoza's assertion of a certain conatus in
every thing and idea, considered either as a part of a whole, or as a thing
>I was always the origin of my wish, but because I was not at theI begin to wonder now, "Who is this 'I' person anyway Is this sensation of
>moment the wish occurred conscious of my "mastery," (the
>understanding came later as I rode around on the mower), I was not
>then living my life in a rational, purposeful way. I was at the
>mercy of "external causes" (though these "external causes" might just
>as easily be termed "internal").
"I," a certain "thinker," "role-players", all under the same assumed name, in
a virtual theater of selves, just the ideas/sensations arising in parallel
with movements in a relatively restricted area of the brain?
I think I want to clarify something about the exchangeability of "external"
and "internal." I grant that the image of a thing actually existing in front
of me, (more vivid, hence more energetic and compelling), is qualitatively
identical with one that arises from memory with respect to ability to
comprise part of a confused idea, which is what I think Frank is implying.
However, there are causes that underlie the very essences of things as they
are in themselves, and these are what come to mind for me when I think of the
phrase "internal cause."
>If the human mind has a "designed function" (treat the "designed"I think "designed" is implicit in the "function" concept. My sense is that
>part as a rhetorical device) it is to work for the survival of
>whatever I think that I am.
it's still a bit towards the "ghost in the machine," as much as Frank was
sensitive to the fact. However, I think Spinoza agrees with the basics here.
Prop. [IX] The mind, both in so far as it has clear and distinct
ideas, and also in so far as it has confused ideas,
endeavours to persist in its being for an indefinite
period, and of this endeavour it is conscious.
>But because we often think we are ourDamn this is good stuff! This really nails a big aspect of the apparent
>minds, we find that "designed function" operating not for our
>survival but for the survival of the mind itself. And what
>constitutes "survival" for a mind is nothing more than the
>maintenance of consistency in its "ideas."
dilemma, doesn't it? But we can't think we are our minds in this sense when
a powerful active emotion is attentive awareness of our totality. Even the
beginnings of this sort of understanding fill the being with joy, and
awareness of the body as a whole is integral to this. I think this is part
of what Spinoza is saying in the note to E520 cited above.
>With confused andA lot of truth there, seems to me. Spinoza says that a conditioned thing can
>fragmented ideas as its original strata of understanding -- we got
>that early on from our parents and teachers -- the mind has an uphill
>struggle to make of its "content" a truly survival oriented amalgam.
never render itself unconditioned. But the good news is that I think he also
seems to say that the real "original strata" (that which actually "stands
under" all the particularities of conditioning) is by nature conceived to be
formless. Can we notice that as reason contemplates common notions, such as
necessity in certain relations, that our minds are moving in the direction of
total integration? That is what Einstein theorized about scientifically with
his unified field theory, and, as we know, he was likewise a Spinozist. The
trap is that we misinterpret the significance implicit in that movement of
reason toward unity. We may begin to think that the infinite can be reached
by moving more and more in that direction. That is the science/philosophy
addiction that is that very phenomenon of the brain dominating the totality
of the body which I think Frank's experience in part points up. Going back
to Einstein, we find that in his physics, an object reaching the speed of
light will have infinite mass. And we find Jesus, the inner scientist,
saying that when the understanding is perfected (eye is sound), which I take
to mean transcending the finite movement of thoughts to comprehend the
essence of thought/extension itself via the third kind of knowledge, that the
body is full of light. That is, I will say, a verbal curiosity along the
way, which may or may not contain some meaning. But my point is that the
movement of reason toward integration is sort of like the old grade school
brain teaser about how long it will take to go a mile if we traverse half the
remaining distance every ten minutes.
As we recognize with greater clarity that this primordial "common notion"
from whence our particularity arises is the source of being, our "minds" as
we "experience" them seem to grow simpler, quieter, and very much less
"all-encompassing." Don't scientist say that the whole "I, me mine"
experience appears to occupy a small percentage of the brain? Perhaps
something is reflected in the other uncharted parts when the totality of the
incorporeal is united with, or at least a certainty about that possibility is
at hand. But I think Spinoza means that this direction toward merger with
"integrated sameness" comes about more by observing for the very essence of a
passion, such as desire, rather than by trying to get in mind the great
complex of modal causes. I sense all 'round agreement on that issue.
>We struggle heartily, but for every rational, life-sustainingNot to say there is no benefit to "rearranging the furniture," the thing
>breakthrough we are able to "engineer," there seem to be a hundred
>others there to take its place -- "mind-sustaining" ideas that may
>contribute to no survival other than their own.
about "the intellectual order," Spinoza seems to say, is that when we
acquiesce with some of these intuitive, adequate ideas that are supposed to
be in the essence of the mind, and are more and more revealed as we observe
what passions are, in themselves, why then the "furniture" rearranges itself.
In Buddhism, I think this effect is called a "mandala." For the
pseudo/philosophic babblers like me, I'd liken it to the pattern assumed by
iron filings when an electromagnet is activated. There is no struggle
involved, in fact, all the action is in the source of the electricity. Well,
>SunHunter also asked:"Pt.2, Ch.18-P02:
>"What experiments can be devised to go into these ideas?"
>I regard the above exercise as an example of such an "experiment"
>Perhaps we should rather call methods of this sort "experience," but
>if our lives are in fact possible of rational existence, then it
>seems reasonable and proper to refer to these experiences as
>experiments. I cannot, however, conceive that our lives are only
>experiments, but neither can I deny that the possibility for actual
>mastery to occur suggests a beyondness not strictly deducible from
>the pure empiricism of the experienced life. We may not be involved
>in the work of a "good God," but we are certainly capable of seeing
>ourselves as creators of a world more perfect for human existence
>than the one into which we were born.
In the first place, it follows therefrom that we are truly
servants, aye, slaves, of God, and that it is our greatest
perfection to be such necessarily. For, if we were thrown back upon
ourselves, and thus not dependent on God, we should be able to
accomplish very little, or nothing, and that would justly give us
cause to lament our lot; especially so in contrast with what we now
see, namely, that we are dependent on that which is the most
perfect of all, in such a way that we exist also as a part of the
whole, that is, of him; and we contribute, so to say, also our
share to the realization of so many skilfully ordered and perfect
works, which depend on him. [N1]"
So, I've gotten to the end of an extremely long-winded post, only to feel
that I have just begun to get into what I feel Spinoza means to indicate are
vital aspects of the causality of passions which are most needful to be
known. That is, that there is a so to say "vertical" axis of causality that
intersects the web of temporal causes at a certain point, as Frank noticed
while on his mower, and it is the links along this "ladder" that lead to
direct intuition of the conatus of being, self-actuated joy, and ultimately
perhaps, blessedness. Thanks, readers, for providing an opportunity to bring
out these expressions for further development.
>etc. etc. etc.
> Message: 1
> Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 19:11:23 EDT
> From: SunHunter9@...
> Subject: Re: Experimenting with experience
> In the sense of the "common" order and connection of causes, etc? That seems
> another avenue of investigation that is psychological in the sense that it
> involves conditioning via the common order of nature. However, because of
> the context in which Spinoza uses the phrase "intellectual order" I think
> that he means that other order of causality that descends from an intuitive
Great posting, SunHunter. Now, for a dream. Berkeley Chapter of Spinoza
Society protesting using Spinoza's ETHICS. Wait a minute: revision --
Berkeley Chapter Spinoza Society -- period ;)
Be-ahavah oo-ve-shalom oo-ve-emet, Ethel Jean Saltz
Mac(hiavelli)-Niet(zsche)-Spin(oza)-Gal(ileo), 392 A.G. (after Galileo)