Turning Spinoza on his head
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 at 21:59
Fichte put the ground of autonomy in the self in an attempt to refute the Spinozists. He reversed Spinoza and the dogmatists who put the ground of autonomy in the not-self i.e. in nature, in the outer world as the cause of our representations.
Fichte also refuted the Kantian thing-in-itself, which served as the outer world and cause of our representations.
It is easy to see why Fichte was accused of atheism in his time. By refuting the Spinozists’ external cause, that in which Spinoza insisted man is grounded, i.e. Substance, or Ein Sof, Fichte was also denying the existence of a God external to man. Fichte had internalised God. He had wholly embraced the Renaissance humanist concept of the divinity of man.
In answer to the “what am I” question, the Spinozists claimed that everything we know is derived from the outer world through sensation and that the ground of autonomy lies in the outer world of nature. Their answer to the question is that the self is merely an accident or epiphenomenon of this ontology of actuality.
Fichte attempted to save the self by reversing Spinoza as well as turning him on his head. Fichte claimed that all reality and substantiality is inside the self as a whole. The external world of nature is an epiphenomenon that revolves around the self, not the other way around.
Did Fichte actually refute Spinoza, or did he merely miniaturise Ein Sof?
And didn’t the Ein Sof of Lurianic Kabbalah miniaturise itself in its act of withdrawal?
Things to ponder.
© John Dunn.
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 at 20:53
In March to April 1841, at the age of 22, Karl Marx made extensive transcriptions from Spinoza.* These notebooks were published by Dietz Verlag in the GDR in 1976, in two volumes. Volume I contains Marx’s transcriptions in Latin and German; Volume II contains translations from Latin into German, and notes, the “Apparat”.
He prepared his Spinoza notes immediately following the completion of his doctoral dissertation for which he received his doctoral degree in April 1841.
The combination of his work on Epicurus (for the dissertation) and the notes taken from Spinoza had a profound effect upon Marx’s conception of human freedom.
Certainly the combination was also at the root of his realisation that there were two basic and opposite trends in philosophy, the idealist and the materialist.
*Karl Marx (1976) Marx/Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), IV Vierte Abteilung : Exzerpte Notizen Marginalien Band 1(Berlin: Dietz Verlag)
© John Dunn.
USA modelled on France
Sunday, 12 February 2017 at 10:28
What were the Pilgrim Fathers really escaping? A Sarpian, Spinozist, Lockean Britain.
The model for the new USA was not the Sarpian ‘Republick of merchants’ with Lockean overtones, but rather the France of Louis the XIV and Jean-Baptiste Colbert (pictured), except that the President undertook the role of an elected ‘king’.
Not surprisingly, the American revolutionaries received the support of France.
Only later was the republic in which happiness was to be pursued turned into a ‘Republick of merchants’.
© John Dunn.
Perfected state of oligarchy
Saturday, 11 February 2017 at 20:55
The impact of Lurianic kabbalah was multi-layered, and socio-political in essence.
Isaac Luria (1534–1572) took his followers on a metaphorical journey of Platonic, Eleusian divine light, creation and fall, that left mankind with a neo-chivalric quest for redemption and return to divine perfection. This was ‘secret’ knowledge; a revamped gnosticism.
In the mystical language of gnosticism, Luria wrote down an allegory of exile and return for the Marrano Jews.
From what were the Jews exiled? Not Palestine for a start.
The great and significant exile was from the Renaissance states that were attempting to gain control of their economic destinies, within newly established national borders.
To what did the Jews long to return? To a borderless world of unimpeded trade - sharing the spoils of serf-produced surplus with the landholding nobility and Venetian bankers.
Tikkun was the allegorised process of return.
Ein Sof was the hoped-for perfected state of oligarchy.
© John Dunn.
Coleridge on the symbol
Saturday, 21 January 2017 at 21:23
Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Washington Allston oil on canvas, 1814
I'm returning after many, many years to read Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with a renewed freshness and understanding.
In his The Statesman’s Manual, Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously described symbols as ‘harmonious in themselves, and consubstantial with the truths, of which they are the conductor’.
In the sense of Coleridge’s definition, the symbol throws together the eternal and the temporal, the transcendent and the imminent. It is through the symbol that our awareness of the transcendent is made conscious. It opens up a path to that transcendent realm.
The symbol differs from the metaphor. The metaphor is a ‘carrying across.’ It compares a thing with something else. It is a way of speaking which can illuminate the mind, instruct the mind, but there is no relationship, i.e. not consubstantial with the object to which the thing is being compared.
The symbol, however, partakes in that which it is symbolising. A beautiful object which symbolises the holy is itself, although it is not itself the holy, participating in it.
I sense here that what is commonly considered to be the romantic sensibility was in fact a return to Renaissance concepts of what it means to be human. It was a rejection of the Spinozan kabbalism clothed in rationalism known as the Enlightenment. It saw mankind as symbolic of a higher divinity.
Central to this fallen world was the Renaisaance humanist view that in his capacity for creative spontaneity and play, frivolity even, man is the ‘living image of God’ (imago viva Dei) and has the capacity to be a ‘human god’ and a ‘second creator’ (capax Dei).
© John Dunn.
Conspiracy goes mainstream
Wednesday, 4 January 2017 at 21:10
From top left to right: Erich Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, LeoLöwenthal, Friedrich Pollock, Franz Leopold Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin.
Views long held by anti-semitic conspiracy theorists are now crossing into mainstream, conventionalist academia - and, what’s more, are being claimed as new ideas, albeit watered down considerably. On Youtube you can find a professor from Nottingham University postulating what she describes as ‘Philosphical Morranos’, ‘crypto-philosophers’ and ‘crypto-theologians’. Benjamin, Levinas, Derrida and their contemporaries in the Frankfurt School are the principle figures thus described. The academic rehearses the key point that ‘Judaism may be a key to profound connections in their philosophies’. She falls short of describing the connections as Sabbatean-Frankist, but if she continues to draw from the same sources for her theories, then no doubt this will be next.
Perhaps we really are moving into a post-liberal world.
© John Dunn.
Secular Paul of Tarsus
Monday, 19 December 2016 at 20:42
Spinoza begins Ethics with his definitions, starting with the “cause of itself” or causa sui. Definition 3 says: “By substance, I understand that which is in itself and is conceived through itself; in other words, that, the conception of which does not need the conception of another thing from which it must be formed.”
This was the basis of Spinoza’s materialist outlook, even if we have to set aside the mystical origins of substance in Spinoza’s great presupposition.
Spinoza’s philosophy reflected the world around him, in his case, the nascent financial capitalist world of 17th century Amsterdam.
Marx famously said that -
The Jew has emancipated himself in a typically Jewish fashion not only in that he has taken control of the power of money, but also in that through him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the spirit of the Christian people. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews. The god of the Jews has become secularised and has become the god of the earth. (Marx, The Jewish Question)Spinoza’s philosophy was the secular correlative of the emancipated Marrano Judaism of Amsterdam.
Hegel believed that he had superseded Spinoza with his own secular correlative of Christianity.
Marx did not so much turn Hegel on his head, but rather re-imposed a materialist Spinozism in a Hegelianised form. Marx was the secular Paul of Tarsus.
© John Dunn.