PHILOSOPHY – Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza was a 17th century Dutch philosopher who
tried to reinvent religion, moving it away from something
based on superstition and ideas of direct divine
intervention to being a discipline that was going to be far more impersonal,
quasi scientific and yet also at times serenely consoling. Baruch – the word means blessed in
Hebrew, was born in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam
in 1632, a thriving central Jewish commerce in
thought. His ancestors were sephardic Jews who’d fled the Spanish Peninsula
following the Catholic conspired expulsion of 1492 Baruch, a studious, highly
intelligent child, received an intensely traditional Jewish education. He went to the local Jewish school, the
Yeshiva and followed all the Jewish High Holidays and rituals But gradually he began to distance
himself from the faith of his ancestors. “Although I have been educated from
boyhood in the accepted beliefs concerning Scripture”, he later wrote with characteristic
caution, “I have felt bound in the end to embrace other views”. His
fully fleshed-out views would to be expressed his great work ‘The
Ethics’, written entirely in Latin and published in 1677. In The Ethics
Spinoza directly challenged the main tenets of Judaism in particular and organized religion in general. God is
not a person who stands outside of nature there is no one to hear our prayers or
to create miracles or to punish us for misdeeds. There is no
afterlife man is not God’s chosen creature. The
Bible was only written by ordinary people. God is not a craftsman or
an architect, nor is he a King or military strategist who calls
for believers to take up the Holy Sword. God doesn’t see anything, nor does he expect anything. He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t even reward the virtuous with the life after death. Every representation of God as a
person is a projection of the imagination and everything in the traditional
liturgical calendar is pure superstition and mumbo-jumbo. However, despite all this, remarkably,
Spinoza did not declare himself an atheist He insisted that he remained a staunch
defender of God. God plays an absolutely central role
in Spinoza’s ethics. But it isn’t anything like the God who
haunts the pages of the Old Testament. Spinoza’s God is wholly impersonal and
indistinguishable from what we might variously called ‘nature’ or ‘existence’ or a ‘world soul’. God is the universe and its laws God is reason and truth. God is the
animating force in everything that is and can be. He is not
in time and he cannot be individuated.
Spinoza writes: “Whatever is, is in God and nothing
can exist or be conceived without God.” Throughout his text, Spinoza was keen to
undermine the idea of prayer. In prayer, an individual appeals
to God to change the way the universe works. But
Spinoza argues that this is entirely the wrong
way around. The task of human beings is to try to understand how and why the
universe works the way it does and then accept it, rather than protest
at the workings of existence by sending little messages up into the
sky. As Spinoza put it beautifully but rather caustically: “Whoever loves God cannot strive
that God should love him in return”. In other words
only a deeply distorted and infantile narcissism would lead someone
that wants to believe in God and then to imagine that this God
would take an interest in bending the rules of existence to improve his or her life in some way.
Spinoza was deeply influenced by the philosophy of the Stoics of ancient
Greece and Rome. They had argued the wisdom lies not in
protest against how things are but in continuous attempts to understand
the ways of the world and then bow down peacefully to
necessity Seneca, Spinoza’s favorite philosopher, had
compared human beings to dogs on a leash being led by the necessities of life in
a range of directions. The more one pulls against what’s
necessary, the more one is strangled. And therefore the wise must always
endeavor, to try to understand ahead of time how things are. For example what love is like or how
politics works. And then change their direction
accordingly so as not to be strangled unnecessarily. It is this kind of stoic attitude that
constantly pervades Spinoza’s philosophy. To understand God, traditionally means
studying the Bible and other holy texts. But Spinoza now introduces another idea. The best way to know God is to understand how life and the
universe work. It’s through a knowledge of psychology, philosophy and the natural
sciences that one comes to understand God. In traditional religion believers ask special favors of God. Spinoza proposes instead that we should understand what God wants
and we can do so in one way above all – by studying everything that is. By
reasoning we can exceed to a divine eternal
perspective. Spinoza made a famous distinction
between two ways of looking at life. We can either see it egoistically from our
limited point of view. As he put it: sub specie durationis (under the aspect of time) or we can look at things globally
and eternally: sub specie aeternitatis (under the
aspect of eternity). Our nature means that we’ll always be
divided between the two. Sensual life pulls us towards a time-bound
partial view. But our reason and intelligence can give us
unique access to another perspective. It can quite literally allow us – and
here Spinoza becomes beautifully lyrical – to participate in eternal totality. Normally we call bad, whatever is bad
for us, and good whatever increases our power and
advantage. But for Spinoza, to be truly ethical means rising above
such local concerns. It might all sound forbidding, but
Spinoza envisaged his philosophy as a route to a life based on freedom
from guilt, from sorrow, from pity or from shame. Happiness involves aligning our will with
that of the universe. The Universe God has its own projects
and it’s our task to understand rather than rail against
these. The free person is one conscious of the
necessities that compel us all. Spinoza writes, the wise man, the person
who understands how and why things are, possesses eternally true complacency
of spirit. Needless to say these ideas got Spinoza
into a very deep trouble. He was excommunicated
from the Jewish community of Amsterdam in 1656 The rabbis issued a censure known as ‘cherem’ against the philosopher. It went by the
decree of the angels and by the commander of the holy man –
we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Brauch Spinoza with all the
curses which are written in the book of law cursed he be by day and cursed be he
by night. Cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up. Spinoza
was forced to flee Amsterdam and eventually settled in The Hague,
where he lived quietly and peacefully as a lens grinder, and private tutor till his death in 1677.
Spinoza’s work was largely forgotten down the ages. Hegel took an interest, as did Wittgenstein
and several other twentieth century philosophers. But from many perspectives Spinoza’s
work constitutes a warning about failures of philosophy. The ethics
is one of the world’s most beautiful books. It contains a calming perspective for
storing take on life. It replaces the God of superstition with
a wise and consoling pantheism. And yet Spinoza’s work failed utterly to
convince any but a few to abandon traditional religion and to
move towards a rationalist, wise system of belief. The reasons are in a way simple and banal. Spinoza failed to
understand, like so many philosophers before and
since, that what leads people to religion isn’t just reason, but far more importantly: emotion, belief,
fear and tradition. People stick with their beliefs
because they like the ritual, the communal meals, the yearly traditions, the beautiful
architecture, the music and the lovely language read out in a sinagoge or
church. Spinoza’s Ethics arguably contains a
whole lot more wisdom than the Bible. But because it comes without any of the Bible’s
supporting structure it remains a marginal work, studied here
and there at universities in the West. What the
traditional religion, that Spinoza thought outmoded in the 1670s, continues to thrive and convince people. If we’re ever to replace traditional beliefs, we
must remember just how much religion has helped along by ritual, tradition, art and a desire to
belong. All things that Spinoza, despite its
great wisdom, ignored it as peril in his bold attempt
to replace the Bible.

100 thoughts on “PHILOSOPHY – Baruch Spinoza

  1. Funny how so called jews all trace their ancestry somewhere around europe and not somewhere around the land of israel. just an observation

  2. Nao concordei com as conclusoes. Spinoza seria ilogico com sua própria idéia ao achar que o conhecimento de Tetragrama substituiria a bíblia. Não seria essa a questão.Conhecer mais sobre D'us não implica em varrer a bíblia como conhecimento supersticioso e desnecessário.Somente é colocá-la sob a expectativa de um livro histórico ,datado e profundamente metafórico.fruto da experiência limitada de um povo em um curto período. Spinoza não queria ganhar uma queda de braço intelectual com a religião.

  3. punch in the air,,kissing my own punch are better than denial of god,,i do discussion in indonesian forum and many of them claim pantheism is the truth and deny that human and nature separated. they famous by doing talk about big bang and evolution. i don't angry with them,,just laugh that they never realize shortcut like that just make life more difficult

  4. His views about understanding God exactly match Quranic viewpoint.

    In time We shall make them fully understand Our messages [through what they perceive] in the utmost horizons of the UNIVERSE and within THEMSELVES, so that it will become clear unto them that this revelation is indeed the truth. [Still,] is it not enough for them to know that thy Sustainer is witness unto everything?
    (Quran 41:53)

  5. There will always be the masses who fight to preserve exactly what is and those people marshalling new ways of thinking are potentially “dangerous” to the establishment.

    Have there any been any new good change without any sorrow or fight?

  6. There's no Spanish peninsula! That's a gross error both in geographic and historic terms.

  7. deprived of the new testimate, i can see how a greater curiosity would take hold.
    but jesus quotes tell a deeper story.

  8. If one wishes to view paradise, simply look around,
    and view it.

  9. He was jew then why in the hell do you put Jesus into this video as God.

  10. Spinoza's God is none other than Lord Siva, described in Sivagamas

  11. Spinoza: Unpopular
    Pantheism, Nature, Reason, Critical Thinking, Detachment.
    Religion: Popular
    God of the Bible, Community, Rituals, Dependency, Faith, Fear.
    Now I know why I live alone.

  12. It seems atheism will never replace nor remove religion. And the saddest part is that Spinoza's work offers all the solutions traditional religions require to improve themselves…yet none use it…what a waste!

  13. What good is a God whom will not occasionally part the clouds just for me? Because God hardly ever "changes reality" for one being, does not mean He never does. There are rules to existence, and it can be shown that almost every one of those rules may be bent or broken.

  14. Essentially a Deist then? Could have saved a bit of time mate

  15. Maybe the divine wants from us, in a similar way, what we are given by the trees and coral reefs so to speak…some type of majestic oxygen.

  16. How can you make the last 2 minutes of this video and yet be unironically surprised that Spinoza didn't come out as an atheist?

  17. His views are identical to the Buddhist and Yogic concept of God. Which is basically consciousness existence and Eternal bliss.

  18. One big mistake
    Jews in Spain could adopt the Catholic faith and remain in Spain
    Your implication that Jews were forced to leave is a LIE!

  19. extreme simplification of religion just make you are just matter same as cat shit

  20. Maybe there is a personal god as in Abrahamic religions…but maybe the reason why people think that there cant be a God because bad things happen…is that god thinks and feels on a godly scale…so when bad things happen to us in our lives we think it's so terrible because it is… us…as humans on our human level….but to god what can be so bad? God knows what happens after death so hes not so afraid and doesnt see it as such a tragedy because for god death is not the end…it is just a move from one realm to another.

  21. "Wisdom lies, not in protest against how things are, but in continuous attempts to understand the ways of the world, and then, bow down peacefully, to necessity".

  22. everything ok until 8:00 why do the people that did this video think that Spinoza was trying to compete against the mass? people choose religion because its easier, anything that involves consciousness and thinking won´t be popular, Spinoza is for conscious people with heart and brains.

  23. Spinoza was excommunicated BEFORE he published any of his works.

  24. de Botton's liberties with philosophers' views is concerning. His synopsis on Spinoza's view of God in the Ethics is mostly accurate but a little embellished with added language never directly used by the author. And in the Hobbes video when he simply asserts that Hobbes was privately an 'atheist' (in our contemporary sense)… More precisely, he was accused of 'atheism' in his own day (this word being used in a different, now archaic, sense). Maybe de Botton is drawing from other writings and simply telescoping the information, but we can't know without a bibliography. Entertaining videos; consult other sources for more precise/accurate information.

  25. I've been reading Spinozas books and biographies for months he is now one of my biggest influencial figures!

  26. UMUC Alumni 1:21 on top of all the other hats. I love it! LOL.

  27. The word ‘totality’ in conjunction with a pantheistic out look gives me the heebeejeebees. Harmatology is one of the deepest components of religious concern and activity. Spinoza sounds rather Pelagian – an outlook which bedevils these days with political and environmental nostrums to ‘put things right and then we’ll all be ok’! And which St. Augustine spent his life combatting and for which providing a deeper and spiritualised alternative.
    I think Spinoza is mistaken about prayer – it is not made as an attempt to pull divine levers it is performed for connection with the humanity-exceeding mystery of it all and to balance and fortify the soul in hardship and peril and to enable confrontation with death if it is near.
    Avicenna put it well ‘prayer is that which allows the soul to realise its divinity………..prayer is the worship of the first cause of all things….the source of all strength….prayer is the adoration of that being whose existence is necessary’.
    I think you make a mistake in putting up an image of Christ as a substitute for God – there is too much which is contained in the Old Covenant which his tradition fails to communicate and the Creator is beyond anything in that per necessitatem.
    Appreciation for all your videos – are you aware of those of Ryan Reeves?

  28. The final minutes of this video are nonsense.

    The failure of many to hear his (in my opinion) very important voice is on them. The implication at the end of this video that the unreasoning masses somehow serve as a legitimate indictment of Reason is entirely absurd.

    Man may be a slave to his feelings, but slavery (I think we have generally determined) is inherently undesirable.

  29. Religion gives us a system of rules for social life, without which we wouldn't recognize self, one another, common interest, basic values. Could we have one or two wifes, is slavery a sin, is slave a human, and so on.

  30. Gee golly, narrator, I didn't realize that believers like myself are such primitive dumbasses. When you set up a straw god who is dumb, one dimensional and a projection of how awful you personally think religion is, it's easy to him knock down.

  31. Religion is community and belonging and even though I am a Pantheist I understand that people need the structure of the church or synagogue or mosque even with all there nonsense written in those books.

  32. Spinoza was a very selfish man. When you are young, you beg for favors. When you are old, you beg for strength to endure. He thinks everyone is as self-centered as him. I do like the idea that to be loved by God you should make yourself lovable.

  33. is it just me or are all of philosophy schools that search to know human's nature are agreeing on the same ground more or less?

  34. But were Spinoza's "shortcomings" really shortcomings? Is it possible he realized that his work wouldn't supplant the more established religions, but that his work could still be of philosophical benefit to those who read it? And what is wrong with Spinoza not engaging in the emotionalism of conventional religions?

  35. Only by licking the shit off the Christ ass hole can a man achieve absolute salvation. My tongue is brown and I am saved.

  36. lesson 1: take psychedelics, they make you underdstand god the way he truely is, without any religion or culture. just love.

  37. Spinoza is great but there's a fundamental flaw in his philosophy. You can't posit the determinism of substance and then argue for human choice or free will. It's either one or the other and the determinism of substance is probably correct, leaving "free will" as one more idea tossed into the rubbish bin of human attempts to understand reality.

  38. "Spanish peninsula"??… why not Portuguese peninsula!?…since Spinoza actually descends from a portuguese family!

  39. Omg, you nailed it! I’ve never seen seen Spinoza “nailed” within 10 minutes, until now. Tell me more…

  40. I was a belligerent atheist until I stumbled upon Spinoza. Life's still hard, just a little more acceptable.

  41. I am usually a fan of School of Life (though I'd like to see more diversity in the thinkers covered), but the criticism with which this video ends is misguided and does injustice to Spinoza.

  42. Christopher Hitchens mentions Spinoza often enough! Pronounced his name SPINoza.

  43. Prayer is healthy for you, studies have proven that. Prayers are not to change God, the prayer are to change YOU!

  44. You wonder why people have to over-simplify things in order to make their case…

  45. o he didnt fail because he realised it is a necessity to believe in God


  47. I must say Jews of the past were seriously thoughtful people and it's no coincidence, my question is, why are they so thoughtful and deeply understanding? It's a trait truly unique to them it's awe inspiring how they go about…

  48. Spinoza's Ethica failed to convince many, not simply because people of faith can find comfort and reward in the physical expression of tradition, but because, philosophically, without a personal god, there is no compelling aspect to virtue.

  49. Prayer isn't to change God, prayer is to change YOU. It's a tool like meditation or yoga it's for self transformation.

  50. Good clip… only "a bit" ironic that you choose Christ as depiction of God while talking about a Jewish Philosopher 🤔

  51. Any attempt to replace the (Judeo/Christian) Bible is the foolish and fallen beggar's earnest plea for eternal suffering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *