Thursday, December 18, 2014

Spinoza's God

Graphic by El Ricko


It is amazing how arrogant we can become in the name of an imagined god or indefinite divinity while we think we are being ever so humble. We have unwittingly hidden our pride along with our ignorance behind such names.

When our gods are criticized, we support them with our revelations or intuitions instead of the plain facts which any sane person could perceive, and we condemn the sheer stupidity of anyone who does not possess our fine wisdom—why such powerful gods need our support is a mystery.

When push comes to shove, the faithful, instead of pointing their fingers at names of gods, point their weapons at each other and prove their points; it soon becomes bloody obvious who the gods really are, and that their main interests are on Earth.

Any proposition we might faithfully refer to the arbitrary symbol, "god", no matter how ill conceived it may be, takes on the appearance of certainty; it seems to have the perfect clarity of absolute truth. It is really our own dignity that is at stake, therefore we might defend our ideas about our god to the last, convinced of the ignorance or diabolical malevolence of anyone who bothers to disagree. Hence the symbol stands not for objective truth, nor does it indicate the highest power, but rather denotes the demonstration of our blind faith in our pride and prejudicial ignorance. Those who know something adequately have no need for a name to excuse their ignorance; if they do not know something, an "I don't know" is adequate.

The Jewish philosopher Benedict Spinoza laid out his divine rules for adequate thinking in his philosophical tracts. For him, a perfectly clear idea is a true idea. A true idea is different from its objects, but corresponds to those objects just as the idea of a circle corresponds to all visible circles.

However, that correspondence is not understood or induced from observation of the objects themselves, but is rather deduced from the intrinsic nature of the idea, to the extent that idea is adequate to God, because God constitutes the essence of the human soul.

In other words, Ideas are true, clear, and distinct only when they are adequate to divinity, when they are divine. That is to say, the human mind, insofar as it possesses adequate ideas, is one with the divine mind.

In fine, true ideas are divine.

Our ideas are inadequate when they are partial or confused one with the other. But there is no doubt concerning a true idea: it carries with it, as its intrinsic nature or divine adequacy, immediate certainty. There is no absolutely doubt about it.

Spinoza made that perfectly clear: "He who has a true idea knows at the same time that he has a true idea, nor can he doubt the truth of the thing.... What can there be more clear and more certain than a true idea is the standard of truth? Even as light displays both itself and darkness, so is truth a standard both of itself and of falsity.... Our mind, in so far as it perceives things truly, is part of the infinite intellect of God; therefore, the clear and distinct ideas of the mind are as necessarily true as the ideas of God.... No one can know the nature of the highest certainty unless he possesses an adequate idea of the subjective essence of a thing; for certainty is identical with such subjective essence...."

We admire the circular thinking of our metaphysical geometrician as he approximates a perfect circle on his way to a monistic, non-dimensional point where the doubt arising from differences is entirely done away with. Yes, indeed, and may the skeptics be dismissed out of hand, for our object is not doubt but is certitude.

Spinoza's Ethics summarily disposes of skeptics: "If there yet remains some skeptic who doubts of our primary truth, and of all the deductions we make, taking such truth as our standard, he must either be arguing in bad faith, or we must confess that there are some men in complete mental blindness, either innate or due to misconceptions.... With such persons one should not speak of sciences.... If they deny, grant, or gainsay, they know not that they deny, grant, or gainsay, so they ought to be regarded as automatics utterly devoid of intelligence...."

The best argument against stupidity is a stupid argument. The best way to prove an absolute presupposition which is self-evident is simply to propose it and to call anyone who disagrees with it stupid. And perhaps they are stupid for even bothering to refute what really amounts to nothing in particular. Nothing is perfect, for how can Nothing be disproved?

Despite Spinoza's intuition of the divine clarity from which everything may be clearly deduced if the philosopher is adequate to the Subject, the proof of the existence of the Subject of subjects has not yet been demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt. Living philosophy does not run along geometrical tracks to concentration camps. No Final Solution has been settled upon us once and for all, and may skeptics forbid it. Over-arching generalities all too often tend to be destructive partialities—let the skeptics have at them before they leave the station. Of course, the generality proposed might be Nothing; in which case we may for very good reason joyfully praise Nothing on a regular basis and proceed with our lives.

Spinoza suffered his time and circumstances. He was a creature of his god, a reaction to the popular one-god professed by his excommunicators. His god is much more skeptical than the customary idols of religious monopolies. Spinoza's god is the Being of beings, the eternal, infinite substance of reality; everything is good is god; there is no evil; there is nothing outside of god. In a word, Spinoza was a pantheist, which made him an atheist to theists who claimed monopolies for their exclusive gods. His god is everything, hence nothing in particular; his god is the substance of the infinitely good universe of which we know only mind and matter; there are an infinite number of other attributes we do not know.

To those who need seemingly clear definitions, Spinoza's pantheism does smell to high heaven of atheism, of no god at all under the mere pagan name "god." Yet no doubt Spinoza loved the god of his salvation passionately.

As for his pontifications on the clear understanding of true ideas adequate to his god, he might as well have praised Nothing. After all, since his divine intelligence is infinite and his true ideas are infinitely related as an infinitely complex machine, his few "true" ideas, which are perfectly clear to him because they are divine, amount to nothing in comparison to his ignorance of his infinite divinity. But he thought he had ahold of something divine, something necessary; something beyond good and evil for the good reason that necessity alone is good—mysticism is essentially amoral.

Nothing, although perfect with all the dirty beings extracted from Being, was not good enough for Spinoza.

Spinoza seemed convinced that his understanding of his god had its own reward, that his understanding automatically made him virtuous. His love for his god is intellectual, unemotional. The intellectual love and obedience to ‘god,’ compliance with the absolute power and law of the universe for the benefit of humankind, is the ultimate goal of ethical scientists. However, there is no possibility of universal empirical verification from those who know Being or Nothing hence have rid themselves of essents.  In the grand clarity of his true understanding, he felt he was in possession of divine wisdom, for which he wove an elaborate rational cloak.

We may find Spinoza’s unemotional mental calisthenics arid. After all, we are motivated or literally moved by emotions. Human values depend on emotions: he who has none is immoral. Still, Spinoza's geometry is rather elegant. He inspired German Romanticism, which had its arid, scientific aspect. Hard-headed Modernists like Ayn Rand were passionate about dispassionate scientific progress—see her Romantic Manifesto.

Spinoza still has his attractions. Many of his passages are beautifully expressed sublimations of the usual passions, including the desire to be God Almighty, a desire that would be expressed in another manner by existentialists to come in their worship of the transcendental ego. His true god may not be as abstract and impersonal as he might have believed.



David Arthur Walters

Honolulu 1999

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Heavy Metal painting by Sebastian Ferreira



He's Got the Blues painting by Sebastian Ferreira

The Opposition Painting by Sebastian Ferreira

Sold $1,850 September 2014


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nothing is Indeterminate



consult Terminus for more information

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grasping Aire by David Arthur Walters

I beg your pardon for beginning with my I, but it’s all I can try to cling to at this point. It is as if I were grasping thin air, clutching at a straw. It might suffice to say that I am that I am, and that’s about it for the moment, whatever it may be, if anything at all, yet, since my nothingness compels me to persist forever for the time being, I must say something more about what cannot be properly affirmed, the nothing that I am without another, in order to avoid my I altogether. If I said I well enough, you might be offended by my pride, and then, in all humility, I would be moved to apologize for the grandeur of my insignificance, and wish, for your sake, that I were less than nothing. But would not to be less than nothing make something of nothing, and something to be ashamed of?

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Metaphysical Nothing

Abstract by Sebastian Ferreira

Martin Heidegger enjoyed a lifelong obsession with Being and its negation, Nothing. Is Being everything, or is there something called Nothing besides?

Every proposition in truth is about Being. Even the special sciences of various kinds of beings ultimately have a mutual end in Being, for special beings are forms of Being.

The human being is a being that sets itself apart from Being to assert its particular being as well as Being, the ultimate genus which it invasively divides into special beings that the nature of their existence or essence erupts into man’s consciousness. Man does this “in such a way that in and through this irruption beings break open and show what they are and how they are.”

In this way, beings are related to man, are in effect “for” man’s self-consciousness, which of course implies the existence of a world to which he belongs. Modern science is, then, despite its rejection of metaphysics and its subject, Being, concerned with what is and nothing else, i.e. Being. But that is to assume that there is, generally speaking, something other than Being, or Nothing, an assumption that many thinkers from Parmenides onward have considered too logically absurd for consideration.

“Precisely what is remarkable is that, precisely in the way scientific man secures to himself what is most properly his, he speaks of something different. What should be examined are beings only, and besides that – nothing; beings alone, and further – nothing; solely beings, and beyond that – nothing. What about this nothing?”

Since this general nothing is rejected by science, given up as nothing but Nothing, are not scientists conceding that Nothing exists by deliberately abandoning it? It would seem that Nothing does exist in the sense of something standing apart (existere) from Being.

“If science is right, then only one thing is sure: science wishes to know nothing of the nothing…. But even so it is certain that when science tries to express its proper essence it calls upon the nothing for help. It has recourse to what it rejects.”

So Heidegger returns to the question, which presumes the existence of nothing and thus violates the fundamental logical principle of non-contradiction, “What is Nothing?”

Quoted: What is Metaphysics, Martin Heidegger

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nothing is as Nothing Does

Nothing Is as Nothing Does
by Judith Bailey
because David Arthur Walters
got me to thinking
about Nothing and nothing at all...

In the Beginning
Was the Word,
And the Word was Nothing.
Nothing was
Calm, Quiet, and Still
For quite a long while.
Nothing wanted to see
What nothing looked like,
And discovered that,
To see nothing or even Nothing,
Something had to be added.
And then it got complicated.


Dear Judith,

I enjoyed your poem about Nothing, and I take comfort in knowing that Nothing is the only Subject we absolutely agree on, for Nothing is always Self-Identical as the Absolutely Unconditional. Nothing has no attributes and cannot be conditioned by thought, for thought must have a mutual subjective and objective relation, or a knowing between knower and known. Indeed, the tragedy of our dreary times is the objective faith and its objectivist monstrosities. I speak of the false faith that Nondenominational Nothing must be a spiritual object. Therefore I congratulate you and I urge you to remain steadfast in Nothing. And remember, if someone asks, "Well, if Nothing exists, what is Nothing?", we may allude to Nothing in this reply, 'Nothing is your Freedom." Or, someone might say, "It's your freedom, stupid." But seldom do those who appreciate Nothing resort to such abusive terms.

Yours In Absolutely Nothing,


Copyright 2002 Judith Bailey

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Luther on Doing Nothing

As Luther interpreted St. Paul: “But this most excellent righteousness of faith I mean… consists not in our works, but is clean contrary; that is to say, a mere passive righteousness. For in this we worked nothing unto God…. For there is no comfort of conscience so firm and so sure as this passive righteousness is…. Why, do we then nothing? Do we work nothing for the obtaining of this righteousness? I answer: Nothing at all. For the nature of this righteousness is to do nothing, to know nothing, whatsoever of the law or of works.”