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RE: [spinoza-ethics] Digest Number 214t

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  • subtillioN
    Hello All, I have recently written an interpretation of Spinoza s attributes and am seeking feedback from Spinoza scholars. Here is the link and I would
    Message 1 of 8 , May 25, 2004
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      Hello All,

      I have recently written an interpretation of Spinoza's attributes and am
      seeking feedback from Spinoza scholars. Here is the link and I would
      greatly appreciate feedback from the members of this forum.

      http://home.comcast.net/~anpheon/misc/Spinozas_Attribute_Polarity.pdf

      " 1.1. Introduction: The deepest rift in the mass of Spinozistic
      interpretive literature is centered on the status of the two known
      attributes; "thought" and "extension." Are the attributes merely a function
      of the knowing mind-a sort of perspectival illusion-as the "subjectivists"
      assert, or are they part of the very essence of substance itself, as the
      "objectivists" maintain? Must we see the subjective and objective
      interpretations necessarily as mutually exclusive options, or could they
      both be essential aspects of a deeper immanent causal explanation? Indeed,
      the interpretive rift will herein be resolved and supplanted through a
      causal and morphological explanation1 of the dual attributes as occurring
      necessarily at both the "objective" and "subjective" levels-or more
      precisely, the ontic and epistemic. In Spinoza's rigorous and crystalline
      metaphysical and epistemological scaffolding, starting from the gap in
      explanatory detail concerning the attributes, we will progress inward-in the
      opposite direction of the more radiative abstract/logical tangents of common
      Spinozistic interpretation. Instead, we will fill in some of the structural
      details to show the deeper causal relations behind Spinoza's rough sketch of
      the attributes. This explanation will then help to resolve all sorts of
      problems in the philosophy of mind, but we will only have time to focus on a
      few of them in depth, such as the solution to the mind-body problem, "the
      explanatory gap," and a comparison between Spinoza's neutral monism and
      Identity Theory."


      Thanks,
      Joel Morrison
    • Terry Neff
      Hi Joel, ... ... I am not a Spinoza scholar however I did download the PDF and I m attempting to read through it. It seems to be very nicely put together and
      Message 2 of 8 , May 27, 2004
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        Hi Joel,

        > I have recently written an interpretation of Spinoza's attributes
        > and am seeking feedback from Spinoza scholars. Here is the
        > link and I would greatly appreciate feedback from the members
        > of this forum.

        > " 1.1. Introduction: The deepest rift in the mass of Spinozistic
        > interpretive literature is centered on the status of the two known
        > attributes; "thought" and "extension." Are the attributes merely
        > a function of the knowing mind-a sort of perspectival illusion-as
        > the "subjectivists" assert, or are they part of the very essence of
        > substance itself, as the "objectivists" maintain?
        ...

        I am not a Spinoza scholar however I did download the PDF and I'm
        attempting to read through it. It seems to be very nicely put together and
        indeed seems to address a quite common topic that I have also seen discussed
        elsewhere in "the mass of Spinozistic interpretive literature." Without
        meaning to offend but merely to provide another possible viewpoint much of
        what I've read in the other literature seems like what might be written by
        someone sitting in Plato's Cave staring at the shadows on the wall and
        trying to explain to others what it is that the crazy guy who keeps
        referring to "the outside of the cave" is talking about. Of course if they
        have not themselves at least peeked "outside" they have no idea what a cave,
        a wall, or "the outside" actually is. I do not know whether you, in your own
        thinking, have grasped Spinoza's simple meaning with regard to Substance,
        Mode, Attribute, etc. but to me, no matter how one arranges the shadows on
        the wall those shadows are still not Substance.

        Spinoza seems to encourage us that there is something in us which knows
        that to which his words refer even though at first we may not understand
        what he means. For instance:

        ======= Short Treatise, Part 1, Chapter 1: That God Exists:
        ...From what has been said so far it is clearly manifest that the idea
        of infinite attributes in the perfect being is no fiction; we shall,
        however, still add the following:

        According to the foregoing consideration of Nature, we have so far not
        been able to discover more than two attributes only which belong to this
        all-perfect being. And these give us nothing adequate to satisfy us that
        this is all of which this perfect being consists, quite the contrary, we
        find in us a something which openly tells us not only of more, but of
        infinite perfect attributes, which must belong to this perfect being before
        he can be said to be perfect. And whence comes this idea of perfection? This
        something cannot be the outcome of these two [attributes]: for two can only
        yield two, and not an infinity. Whence then? From myself, never, else I must
        be able to give what I did not possess. Whence, then, but from the infinite
        attributes themselves which tell us that they are, without however telling
        us, at the same time, what they are: for only of two do we know what they
        are.
        =======

        I feel, without being able to prove it any better than he did, that
        Spinoza has expressed his meaning of Substance, Mode, Attribute, etc. quite
        clearly and that it is merely our focus on our own particular imagination
        that keeps us from understanding that about which he has written.
        Fortunately, much of the rest of his work is devoted to helping us to
        distinguish between the shadows of our imagination and our Understanding.

        Regards,
        Terry
      • subtillioN
        Thanks for your input Terry, and I agree with many of your points especially the following: much of what I ve read in the other literature seems like what
        Message 3 of 8 , May 27, 2004
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          Thanks for your input Terry, and I agree with many of your points especially
          the following:

          "much of what I've read in the other literature seems like what might be
          written by someone sitting in Plato's Cave staring at the shadows on the
          wall and trying to explain to others what it is that the crazy guy who keeps
          referring to "the outside of the cave" is talking about."

          In fact this point was stated in my paper "Each tangent ray of this
          discursive explosion is executed in a strictly hermeneutic spirit, i.e. in
          an attempt to reconcile the existing ambiguities without injecting any new
          explanatory material into the mix. This is the void left by Spinoza and only
          skirted around in logical abstraction by the majority of Spinozists." As
          you can see I don't agree with you that Spinoza said everything that could
          possibly be said regarding the actual deeper causal nature and reasoning of
          the attributes. In fact, as many scholars have noted, he seems to have left
          a deep void in this area. This is why there is such a massive collection of
          interpretations trying to force his meaning in one direction or another
          (subjectivists vs. objectivists) while it is clear from Spinoza's writing
          that he is meaning BOTH (ontic and epistemic) aspects simultaneously. Since
          Spinoza didn't express how to more deeply understand this dual ontic and
          epistemic aspect of the attributes and it seems difficult to grasp how such
          could be the case, the arguments resume. I have found a deeper immanent
          causal answer through "Buckminster Fuller's Synergetic Geometry: The
          Geometry of Thinking" which seems to unify Spinoza and Leibniz with a
          coherent and purely causal understanding of modern physics in a most
          interesting fashion. That was my point.

          I hope you actually do read what I have written with an open mind, as
          Spinoza would have done, and do not expect that Spinoza's word is sacrosanct
          and the end of all possible speculation into the matter. This
          sanctification and untouchability of Spinoza is part of the reason that not
          much progress has been made with pushing his system further and reconciling
          some of its inherent limitations, after-all ALL explanations are necessarily
          lacking in explanatory detail at some level, a conclusion drawn from
          Spinoza's own words. People are afraid of pressing further into the
          immanent causal heart of the matter and so they simply rearrange the shadows
          to force their own agenda.

          I was hoping, however, for commentary on my actual paper, rather than an
          expression of preconceptions about all possible exegesis re Spinoza. This
          paper is not simply textual exegesis or the simple rearranging of shadows on
          the cave wall (as you nicely put it), but includes the germ of the
          unification of Spinoza and Leibniz through Buckminster Fuller's Synergetic
          Geometry as well as the union with a new unified theory of physics
          (www.anpheon.org) based in Spinoza's substance (this alone ought to greatly
          interest Spinoza scholars and students)....and yes I do think I have grasped
          the essence of Spinoza's basic metaphysical and epistemological system
          regarding substance and modes etc. Please, if you can find any error in my
          actual thinking, rather than what you are expecting my thinking to be, then
          do point it out point for point; after-all that was my purpose in posting to
          this forum.

          Note that in my paper I do not address the interpretation of the infinite
          attributes (though I have indeed studied the literature on the matter and
          have the seeds of my own interpretation ready to germinate), but only those
          two knowable to man. I will address the infinite attributes of God in
          another forthcoming work.

          Thanks,
          Joel



          -----Original Message-----
          From: Terry Neff [mailto:tneff@...]
          Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 8:12 AM
          To: spinoza-ethics@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [spinoza-ethics] Digest Number 214t

          Hi Joel,

          > I have recently written an interpretation of Spinoza's attributes
          > and am seeking feedback from Spinoza scholars. Here is the
          > link and I would greatly appreciate feedback from the members
          > of this forum.

          > " 1.1. Introduction: The deepest rift in the mass of Spinozistic
          > interpretive literature is centered on the status of the two known
          > attributes; "thought" and "extension." Are the attributes merely
          > a function of the knowing mind-a sort of perspectival illusion-as
          > the "subjectivists" assert, or are they part of the very essence of
          > substance itself, as the "objectivists" maintain?
          ...

          I am not a Spinoza scholar however I did download the PDF and I'm
          attempting to read through it. It seems to be very nicely put together and
          indeed seems to address a quite common topic that I have also seen discussed
          elsewhere in "the mass of Spinozistic interpretive literature." Without
          meaning to offend but merely to provide another possible viewpoint much of
          what I've read in the other literature seems like what might be written by
          someone sitting in Plato's Cave staring at the shadows on the wall and
          trying to explain to others what it is that the crazy guy who keeps
          referring to "the outside of the cave" is talking about. Of course if they
          have not themselves at least peeked "outside" they have no idea what a cave,
          a wall, or "the outside" actually is. I do not know whether you, in your own
          thinking, have grasped Spinoza's simple meaning with regard to Substance,
          Mode, Attribute, etc. but to me, no matter how one arranges the shadows on
          the wall those shadows are still not Substance.

          Spinoza seems to encourage us that there is something in us which knows
          that to which his words refer even though at first we may not understand
          what he means. For instance:

          ======= Short Treatise, Part 1, Chapter 1: That God Exists:
          ...From what has been said so far it is clearly manifest that the idea
          of infinite attributes in the perfect being is no fiction; we shall,
          however, still add the following:

          According to the foregoing consideration of Nature, we have so far not
          been able to discover more than two attributes only which belong to this
          all-perfect being. And these give us nothing adequate to satisfy us that
          this is all of which this perfect being consists, quite the contrary, we
          find in us a something which openly tells us not only of more, but of
          infinite perfect attributes, which must belong to this perfect being before
          he can be said to be perfect. And whence comes this idea of perfection? This
          something cannot be the outcome of these two [attributes]: for two can only
          yield two, and not an infinity. Whence then? From myself, never, else I must
          be able to give what I did not possess. Whence, then, but from the infinite
          attributes themselves which tell us that they are, without however telling
          us, at the same time, what they are: for only of two do we know what they
          are.
          =======

          I feel, without being able to prove it any better than he did, that
          Spinoza has expressed his meaning of Substance, Mode, Attribute, etc. quite
          clearly and that it is merely our focus on our own particular imagination
          that keeps us from understanding that about which he has written.
          Fortunately, much of the rest of his work is devoted to helping us to
          distinguish between the shadows of our imagination and our Understanding.

          Regards,
          Terry





          This is one of the lists sponsored by The Free Lance Academy, home of
          Slow Reading: http://www.freelance-academy.org To unsubscribe by
          e-mail, mailto:spinoza-ethics-unsubscribe@egroups.com


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        • Terry Neff
          Hi Joel, ... Where did I say or imply anything like: Spinoza said everything that ... I feel, without being able to prove it any better than he did, that
          Message 4 of 8 , May 27, 2004
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            Hi Joel,

            > As you can see I don't agree with you that Spinoza said everything
            > that could possibly be said regarding the actual deeper causal nature
            > and reasoning of the attributes. In fact, as many scholars have noted,
            > he seems to have left a deep void in this area.

            Where did I say or imply anything like: "Spinoza said everything that
            could possibly be said...." I said:

            ---------
            "I feel, without being able to prove it any better than he did, that
            Spinoza has expressed his meaning of Substance, Mode, Attribute, etc. quite
            clearly and that it is merely our focus on our own particular imagination
            that keeps us from understanding that about which he has written."
            ---------

            I merely said that for me Spinoza has expressed his meaning quite
            clearly. How does this equate with "Spinoza said everything that could
            possibly be said..."?

            Regards,
            Terry

            Ps: As I mentioned, I am attempting to read through your PDF but I doubt
            from what I have read so far that I can provide what you seem to be looking
            for. Perhaps someone else here can help you.
          • subtillioN
            Terry, Thank you for your comments. ... could possibly be said....
            Message 5 of 8 , May 27, 2004
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              Terry,

              Thank you for your comments.

              > Where did I say or imply anything like: "Spinoza said everything that
              could possibly be said...."<

              That was taken out of context, and it was not attributed to anything in
              particular you have directly said. I apologize for reading into what you
              said, but it seemed to have been insinuated.

              > I merely said that for me Spinoza has expressed his meaning quite
              clearly. How does this equate with "Spinoza said everything that could
              possibly be said..."?<

              This is where it seems to have been insinuated. "Quite clearly" is
              relative. The point of my article is to go beyond this "quite clearly" to
              find a new and deeper clarity.

              > I am attempting to read through your PDF but I doubt
              from what I have read so far that I can provide what you seem to be looking
              for. Perhaps someone else here can help you.<

              Thank you again Terry.

              Kind Regards,
              Joel

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Terry Neff [mailto:tneff@...]
              Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 9:49 AM
              To: spinoza-ethics@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [spinoza-ethics] RE: Spinoza's Attribute Polarity: The
              Nucleation of Observability

              Hi Joel,

              > As you can see I don't agree with you that Spinoza said everything
              > that could possibly be said regarding the actual deeper causal nature
              > and reasoning of the attributes. In fact, as many scholars have noted,
              > he seems to have left a deep void in this area.

              Where did I say or imply anything like: "Spinoza said everything that
              could possibly be said...." I said:

              ---------
              "I feel, without being able to prove it any better than he did, that
              Spinoza has expressed his meaning of Substance, Mode, Attribute, etc. quite
              clearly and that it is merely our focus on our own particular imagination
              that keeps us from understanding that about which he has written."
              ---------

              I merely said that for me Spinoza has expressed his meaning quite
              clearly. How does this equate with "Spinoza said everything that could
              possibly be said..."?

              Regards,
              Terry

              Ps: As I mentioned, I am attempting to read through your PDF but I doubt
              from what I have read so far that I can provide what you seem to be looking
              for. Perhaps someone else here can help you.





              This is one of the lists sponsored by The Free Lance Academy, home of
              Slow Reading: http://www.freelance-academy.org To unsubscribe by
              e-mail, mailto:spinoza-ethics-unsubscribe@egroups.com


              Yahoo! Groups Links
            • arqueware
              Regarding Terry s post on 27 May: i have seen it written both that humans are tri-part beings (mind, body, and soul/spirit), and that humans are dualistic in
              Message 6 of 8 , Aug 9, 2004
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                Regarding Terry's post on 27 May:

                i have seen it written both that humans are tri-part beings (mind,
                body, and soul/spirit), and that humans are dualistic in nature mind
                and body). I see no reason to make any differentiation between mind
                and/or spirit and/or soul, as all are intangible. I may be mistaken
                with regard to mind and spirit, but certainly not regarding spirit and
                soul (animus).

                Back to the point, if we are indeed bipartite, does it not stand to
                reason that we can only fathom those two attributes (thought and
                extension) for that very reason? Consequently, that our degree of
                perfection (completeness) is directly related to the attributes that
                comprise our being-ness and those attributes that we are enabled to
                perceive?
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