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An Apostate Idea of Spinoza

January 14th, 2009 | Posted by Dick in Papers - Things of Understanding

A response to poet, John Barlow when he wrote:  ” The first questions just don’t seem to languish within the terminologies which sunk the ship of philosophy.” 
When I was a guard in prison, reason failed me and I almost went down with the ship. This is why grabbed on to the coat tails of Spinoza.  When philosophy went onto the “terminologies” that became humanism, Spinoza was being mentored by philophers of the first question, such as Aristotle and Euclid. Because Spinoza was a product of his age, (as we all are), he flirted with the ideas of the ‘cogito’ that reached their absurdity in Husserl’s ‘Transcendental Phenomenology.  Quote: “In this book, then, we treat of an a priori science (‘eidetic,’ directed upon the universal in its original intutuitability,…blah, blah, blah.” (p.5, Author’s Preface to the English Edition.” Ideas, Collier Book)
    Like you and any other person who fell in love with phenomenology in my outh, Husserl also had many ideas such as you state:” Consciousness is always consciousness OF something. There is nothing as consciousness that seemed so exciting compared to the other school of philosophy that was in vogue in those days: Language Philosophy. Years later, however, I now agree with Wittgenstein that: ‘Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”
    That is why, when reason (philosophy) failed me, the Spinoza writings that were most meaningful to me (and still are) were the early writings, where he developed his theory of knowledge: Emendation (Curing) Of The Intellect & The Short Treatise on God, Man & His Well-Being. I learned that reason was only a process hat begins with and ends in understanding, (what he called ‘intuitive science,” and I am calling, “created intuitions,” until I find a simpler and better word that conveys Boole’s symbolism (x2=x). 
    Yes, at times Spinoza’s…terms, seem as airy as Husserl’s, as you say. In the Short Treatise, Spinoza contrasts ‘True Belief,’  (as distinguished from what W.V. Quine calls; The Web Of Belief (one of my favorite books), or reason from scientific intuitions.  I am working on a hypothesis that, after developing, ‘intuitive science,’ in the Emendation & Short Treatise, Spinoza employed true belief or reason for the rest of his writing and that’s what can make them seem, ‘airy.’
    After all, Spinoza was a product of his age. That does not diminish the brilliance of the rest of his writing, especially, the Ethic, but it should cautions against the …bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language,” that reason (true belief) creates since this is the mode that Spinoza chose, once he had established its limitations. This is why Spinoza has been mistakenly labeled a rationalist.
    I’d like to quote your insightful comments in your e-mails along with this reply, on my website. In the spirit of x2 = x. Dick DeShaw p.s. I imagine I am somewhat of an apostate to Spinoza scholars.

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