By Matthew J. Kisner, Andrew Youpa
13 unique essays by way of best students discover features of Spinoza's moral conception and, in doing so, deepen our figuring out of the richly lucrative middle of his system.
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Additional info for Essays on Spinoza's ethical theory
A tree grows and reproduces. A cat prowls and hears. A human being speaks, understands, and plans. The history of the universe is the history of these primary beings and their exercise of their natural abilities. Where would body show up on such a view—my body, or for that matter the cat body, or the tree body? , an elm, or some earth, or a cat, alongside their other essential constituents. 13 Body is now something in its own right, with its own principles of operation. The human body is but a fragment of this new corporeal order.
While he holds that mind has an eternal aspect, he does not think of that aspect as coming after this life. Rather, he thinks the greater the extent of one’s scientia intuitiva here and now, the greater the extent of the mind’s eternal aspect (cf. 5p39). For Spinoza, then, scientia intuitiva is more fully entrenched in our current existence than it is for Aquinas or than it is for even Descartes. For all three thinkers, in varying degrees, the special cognition of God is continuous with natural science, but richer.
Another comes from morality: don’t we need absolute free will to make sense of morality, especially to make sense of reward and punishment? Let’s consider each source of resistance in turn. 2 Absolute Free Will and ‘Experience’ Spinoza recognizes that it often seems to us that some course of action is absolutely up to us, as, for example, whether to speak or remain silent. He imagines someone objecting: And again, experience tells us [experiri] that it is solely within the power of the mind to speak and to keep silent, and to do many other things which we therefore believe to depend on mental decision [mentis decreto].
Essays on Spinoza's ethical theory by Matthew J. Kisner, Andrew Youpa