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Spinoza: Practical Philosophy Paperback – January 1, 2001
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Deleuze relates Spinoza's philosophy to the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Willem van Blijenbergh, a grain broker who corresponded with Spinoza in 1665 and questioned his concept of evil. Deleuze notes that Spinoza's letters to Blijenbergh are the only place where he "considers the problem of evil per se", making them of unique importance. Deleuze also provides a chapter defining Spinoza's main concepts in dictionary form; this is useful if the reader already has at least some familiarity with Spinoza, but baffling or frustrating otherwise. Deleuze explains that Spinoza sees consciousness as "transitive": "When a body 'encounters' another body, or an idea another idea, it happens that the two relations sometimes combine to form a more powerful whole, and sometimes one decomposes the other, destroying the cohesion of its parts...we experience joy when a body encounters ours and enters into composition with it, and sadness when, on the contrary, a body or an idea threatens our own coherence....Consciousness is the passage, or rather the awareness of the passage from these less potent totalities to the more potent ones, and vice versa."
Deleuze shows how composition works by using Spinoza's own example from the Bible: the apple that Adam eats in the Garden of Eden.Read more ›
We are born with the fear of death. I wonder how Spinoza ever found the inner strength to keep on searching for God without the dual crutches of myth and the belief that there is a reward in the afterlife.
One last thing, and that is that most of the great and fearless men who signed the Constitution were diests. Without Spinoza's insights, the underlying belief in democracy, which is than men can discover TRUTH through reasoning and logic, would have never happened.