• Eugen
    475
    1. As I understand, Spinoza was a panpsychist, so does his metaphysics encounter the combination problem?
    2. In his view, God is nature, it possesses infinite consciousness (plus other infinite attributes), but it is not conscious and it has no will. Isn't this self-contradictory?
    3. Causation: these attributes don't interact with each other. So a rock hitting you doesn't cause you to think ''Damn rock! I'm hurt...", but a previous thought does. How could someone defend this statement?
    4. Please tell me if there are other big problems with his metaphysics.
  • Valentinus
    1.2k
    Spinoza was not panpsychist. Consider:

    Ethics, Of God, Definition #2:

    "A thing is said to be finite ​in its kind if it can be limited by another thing of the same nature. For example, a body is said to be finite because we always conceive bodies that are greater. Similarly a thought is limited by another thought. But a body is not limited by a thought nor a thought by a body."

    In regards to God's intellect and will, there are two approaches. In Ethics,Of God, Proposition 18, Scholium:

    "Since God’s intellect is the sole cause (as we have shown) both of the essence and of the existence of things, it must necessarily differ from them both in regard to their essence and to their existence. For the thing caused differs from its cause precisely in what it has from its cause. For example, one human being is the cause of the existence of another human being but not of his essence; for his essence is an eternal truth.
    Therefore they can completely agree in their essence; but in their existence they must differ. This is why if the existence of one comes to an end, the existence of the other will not therefore come to an end. But if the essence of one could be taken away and be made false, the essence of the other would also be taken away. This is why something that is the cause of both the essence and the existence of an effect must differ from that effect both in respect of essence and in respect of existence. ​But God’s intellect is the cause of both the essence and the existence of our intellect. Therefore God’s intellect, insofar as it is conceived as constituting the divine essence, differs from our intellect both in respect of essence and in respect of existence, and it cannot agree with it in anything except name, and this is what we set out to prove. One may make the same argument about will, as anyone may easily see." (Spinoza does make the same argument for will in Proposition 33)

    The other approach is to see it as prejudices of human beings such as discussed in the Appendix to Proposition 36. It is long so I will only quote a snapshot:

    "After human beings had convinced themselves that everything that happens, happens for their own sakes, they were bound to believe that the most important thing in everything was what was most useful to themselves and to put the very highest value on all those things that affected them most favorably. Hence in order to explain the natures of things, they found themselves obliged to form the notions of good, bad, order, confusion, hot, cold, beauty and ugliness. Also, because they believe themselves to be free, the following notions arose: praise and blame, sin and merit. I will explain the latter set of terms below after I have given an account of human nature, but the former set I will explain briefly now."

    Which attributes do not interact with each other? Are you referring to Ethics, Of God, Proposition 28?:

    "Proof:
    Any particular thing, or anything that is finite and has a determinate existence, cannot exist or be determined to operate, unless it is determined to exist and operate by another cause, which is also finite and has a determinate existence; and this cause in turn is also unable to exist or be determined to operate, unless it is determined to exist and to operate by another thing, which also is finite and has a determinate existence, and so ad ​infinitum.
    Scholium:
    Some things must have been produced immediately by God, namely those things that follow necessarily from his absolute nature, and some things by the mediation of these first things, which still cannot either be or be conceived without God. It follows therefore, first, that God is the absolutely proximate cause of things immediately produced by him but not in their kind, as they say.24 For God’s effects cannot either be or be conceived (by p15 and p24c) without their cause. It follows, secondly, that God cannot properly be said to be the remote cause of particular things, except perhaps in order to distinguish them from those which he produced immediately or rather which follow from his absolute nature. For by a ​remote cause we mean the sort of cause that is in no way closely joined to its effect. But everything that is, is in God, and is also so dependent on him that without him they could neither be nor be conceived."

    [All citations come from
    Spinoza: Ethics: Proved in Geometrical Order (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)]
  • Eugen
    475
    "Since God’s intellect is the sole cause (as we have shown) both of the essence and of the existence of things, it must necessarily differ from them both in regard to their essence and to their existence.Valentinus

    So, after all, it seems to me that God is different from the rest of things. So God's intellect is the cause of all things (nature); and God's intellect is different in essence and existence to those things. So we cannot say God's intellect is the same as nature.

    Therefore God’s intellect, insofar as it is conceived as constituting the divine essence, differs from our intellect both in respect of essence and in respect of existence, and it cannot agree with it in anything except name, and this is what we set out to prove. One may make the same argument about will, as anyone may easily see."Valentinus

    It might escape the ''combination problem'', but it sounds to me that Spinoza cannot escape ''the hard problem of consciousness''. So God's intellect has nothing to do with what we call consciousness, feeling, will, etc. The question remains: if that's the case, how do we get from unconscious to conscious?

    Spinoza was not panpsychist.Valentinus

    I've seen some videos and read some materials and they all say he believed everything was animated. On the other hand, God (the whole nature) has no consciousness. This sounds pretty much like panpsychism to me.
  • Valentinus
    1.2k
    So we cannot say God's intellect is the same as nature.Eugen

    Spinoza doesn't claim it is the same. That is a statement you attribute to him.

    So God's intellect has nothing to do with what we call consciousness, feeling, will, etc.Eugen

    Spinoza outlines the connection to human experience through the propositions concerning modes and the distinction between causing oneself or being caused by another. In general, the "hard problem" would require subtracting from substance and then asking how to add it back again.

    I've seen some videos and read some materials and they all say he believed everything was animated. On the other hand, God (the whole nature) has no consciousness. This sounds pretty much like panpsychism to me.Eugen

    You will have to show from what text you derive that interpretation. It seems like a misunderstanding of how Spinoza agreed and disagreed with Descartes on various issues.
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    1. As I understand, Spinoza was a panpsychist, so does his metaphysics encounter the combination problem?Eugen

    1. It's arguable whether he does or not, I think. If the combination problem consists of how do little proto-consciousnesses come together to form a big consciousness like ours, I don't think Spinoza's troubled by it since modes like feelings and modes like microphysical events don't have causal contact or constitutive part-whole style relationships with each other to begin with. The conceptual framework in which the combination problem makes sense seems to me a category error when viewing it from (my terrible misreading of) Spinoza's perspective.

    2. In his view, God is nature, it possesses infinite consciousness (plus other infinite attributes), but it is not conscious and it has no will. Isn't this self-contradictory?Eugen

    2. Not self contradictory at face value. An analogy; nature consists in the myriad of attributes, a crowd consists of people, what the crowd's made of are all conscious, that doesn't mean the crowd is conscious. If you want to think of Spinoza's "mind" attribute in its entirety as a mind of an agent, it requires distorting the notion of an agent. That god has neither a mind nor a body in the sense an agent does, minds and bodies are (edit: immanent) manifestations of it.

    3. Causation: these attributes don't interact with each other. So a rock hitting you doesn't cause you to think ''Damn rock! I'm hurt...", but a previous thought does. How could someone defend this statement?Eugen

    3. By construing the relationship between the rock impact and the person's flesh as mirroring the relationship between the person's perception of the rock's impact and the person's sensation of pain. There's the sequence of physical causes and the sequence of ideas.
  • fdrake
    4.7k


    If you want a historical angle on it, I think in context the big problems he's speaking about are the mind body problem, God's relationship to substance, God's freedom, good and evil, and whether God's an agent - in historical/political context I think he's as much a radical Jewish theologian and political activist as a metaphysician.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    1. As I understand, Spinoza was a panpsychist, so does his metaphysics encounter the combination problem?Eugen
    Attributes of Mind & Body belong to substance and not to the modes themselves. "Everything" is not conscious; rather mind can be attributed to any mode as "the idea of its body" as (the conception, or logic, of) its functioning, or purpose, attributed by a sufficiently complex body which complementarily – in parallel – is itself the 'conscious' "mechanism of mind". Like wave-particle complementarity, mind-body dual-aspects of modes are complementary descriptions, or concepts, (available to the human mode) attributed to modes that do not inhere in any mode. No "panpsychism", so no "combination problem".

    2. In his view, God is nature, ...
    I believe you're mistaken.
    Spinoza's formula is Deus, sive natura and not 'natura deus est'.180 Proof
    S is an acosmist (Maimon, Hegel) and not a pantheist (or pan-en-theist or pan-en-deist) or philosophical materialist. Pandeist? :chin: Anyway, to wit:

    ... But some people think the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus rests on the assumption that God is one and the same as ‘Nature’ understood as a mass of corporeal matter. This is a complete mistake. — Spinoza, from letter (73) to Henry Oldenburg
    (Emphasis is mine.)

    ... it possesses infinite consciousness (plus other infinite attributes), but it is not conscious and it has no will. Isn't this self-contradictory? — Eugen
    Not at all.

    Substance (i.e. "God") is not conscious in so far as consciousness is intentional, or directed at an object (i.e. consciousness of), because there is only itself and, therefore, nothing else to be conscious of. Likewise, it is both eternal (i.e. self-causal, its "essence is to exist" (E1d)) and infinite (i.e. without exteriority – is not the effect of a separate, external, cause – because there aren't any other substances which can affect it), necessarily not lacking anything whatsoever, and therefore cannot "will" without a lack to satisfy.

    3. Causation: these attributes don't interact with each other. So a rock hitting you doesn't cause you to think ''Damn rock! I'm hurt...", but a previous thought does. How could someone defend this statement? — Eugen
    Plural-aspect ontology (re: summarized in Ethics section I Of God – parallel Attributes of Mind & Body discussed in section II).

    4. Please tell me if there are other big problems with his metaphysics
    The only problem with Spinoza's metaphysics is one that plagues almost all other Western speculative systems, namely that Spinoza proposes a kataphatic (rather than apophatic) ontology, or 'reified' absolute (à la Anselm). Though he denies ontological 'transcendence' by conceiving of immanent ontological distinctions (e.g. attributes & modes) without requiring separate ontologies (i.e. ontological transcendence), Spinoza's ontological immanence is itself 'positive' – kataphatic – as conceptualized sub specie aeternitatis (re: eternal-infinite attributes & infinite/finite modes-affects ... of substance), presupposing a perspective of 'existential transcendence' with respect to reasoning sub specie durationis, which seems to me a fundamental inconsistency in a 'metaphysics of non-transcendence'. For me, Spinoza's project ought to have (instead of kataphatically conceptualizing 'the necessarily real') apophatically conceptualized the 'necessarily not-real', and then stopped there with the proviso: whatever is not transcendent, or not impossible (i.e. unreal), is always, under specifiable sufficient conditions, possible.
  • Eugen
    475
    Spinoza doesn't claim it is the same. That is a statement you attribute to him.Valentinus

    I've watched some videos and they all claim that in Spinoza's metaphysics, you could easily call God nature.

    Spinoza outlines the connection to human experience through the propositions concerning modes and the distinction between causing oneself or being caused by another. In general, the "hard problem" would require subtracting from substance and then asking how to add it back again.Valentinus

    I don't see any way out of this: how can an unconscious entity can cause consciousness? It's simply the same problem moving one step forward (or backward).

    You will have to show from what text you derive that interpretation. It seems like a misunderstanding of how Spinoza agreed and disagreed with Descartes on various issues.Valentinus
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/

    ''In opposition to this dualism, the panpsychist views of Spinoza (1632–77) and Leibniz (1646–1716) can be seen as attempts to provide a more unified picture of nature. Spinoza regarded both mind and matter as simply aspects (or attributes) of the eternal, infinite and unique substance he identified with God Himself. In the illustrative scholium to proposition seven of book two of the Ethics ([1677] 1985) Spinoza writes:

    a circle existing in nature and the idea of the existing circle, which is also in God, are one and the same thing … therefore, whether we conceive nature under the attribute of Extension, or under the attribute of Thought … we shall find one and the same order, or one and the same connection of causes….''

    I can provide you with some other videos and links if you want. They all say the same thing: he was a panpsychist, and he believed that one could call God nature.
  • Eugen
    475
    I haven't read Spinoza, I've just watch some videos and read a few lines about his work and this is what I understand.

    1. In his view, every element possesses an infinite of attributes, including consciousness. So every atom that you contain is somehow alive. “all [individual things], though in different
    degrees, are...animated”1 https://willamette.edu/arts-sciences/philosophy/past-colloquia/nwpc-2010/roelofs.pdf
    “the human mind is part of the infinite intellect of God; thus when we say, that the human mind perceives this or that, we are saying nothing but that God...in so far as he constitutes the essence of the human mind has, this or that idea.”2

    On the other hand, he claims that there's no real separation, and that everything is a whole. So how come the whole isn't conscious? If all atoms inside me have the attribute of consciousness and they form a greater conscious being (me), why stop here? You're saying that all people in a country are conscious, but the country isn't. Why not? If smaller conscious attributes somehow form a larger consciousness, why larger consciousnesses cannot form another larger one and so on to infinity?
    Moreover, I don't see how Spinoza can avoid the either the combination problem or the hard problem, even if he manages to change a little bit the terms. How come smaller conscious attributes come together and form a bigger one? How come a non-conscious entity can cause consciousness?

    If you want a historical angle on it, I think in context the big problems he's speaking about are the mind body problem, God's relationship to substance, God's freedom, good and evil, and whether God's an agent - in historical/political context I think he's as much a radical Jewish theologian and political activist as a metaphysician.fdrake
    That's truly hard to bite. So stabbing your toe could be considered a thought causing another thought, namely ''Damn this needle''. I simply cannot see how this works.
  • Eugen
    475
    I truly appreciate your complex answer, though I must admit my philosophical language is very limited, so I couldn't understand everything you wrote.
    Nonetheless, absolutely every video and material written says Spinoza thought everything was conscious. The problems still remain for me:
    1. How come small conscious entities form larges conscious entities?
    2. If 1 is true, and everything is a whole, how come that whole isn't conscious itself?
    3. How come consciousness arises from a non-conscious thing?
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    1. In his view, every element possesses an infinite of attributes, including consciousness. So every atom that you contain is somehow alive. “all [individual things], though in differentEugen

    I agree with you that "every atom would somehow be alive" would generate no ends of problems for Spinoza's account, but I don't think he's committed to the background of concepts you've used to pin the claim on him.

    By my reckoning what you're saying would equivocate, per Spinoza, on what it means for an element to "possess an infinity of attributes" and what it would mean for nature to possess that infinity of attributes. I've made some remarks on a similar theme here. The bottom line, I think, is if you're trying to criticise Spinoza, you miss your target if you treat him like he believes predicating a property of a mode is the same mechanism as substance possessing an attribute.

    It may turn out that making the distinction between mode properties and attributes isn't worthwhile, but if that's the source of your dispute with him, it's worth articulating in those terms.

    Btw, if it feels like I'm contradicting @180 Proof here, go with his exegesis, he's done years and years more legwork on Spinoza than I have!

    You're saying that all people in a country are conscious, but the country isn't. Why not?Eugen

    I thought we'd be able to take it for granted that something which emerges from a collective of agents isn't necessarily conscious - like countries weren't. If you need more examples to block the syllogism, a handshake of agreement emerges from the actions of two agents, but is not conscious. Is that a clearer example?
  • Gnomon
    1.4k
    1. As I understand, Spinoza was a panpsychist, so does his metaphysics encounter the combination problem?Eugen
    One way to understand Spinoza's worldview is as an Enlightenment Era update to ancient notions of Panpsychism. However, the scientific knowledge, his model was based on, is now quite outdated. That's why, although I too hold an all-is-mind philosophy, I don't claim to be a panpsychist, in the Ancient Greek, or 17th century Enlightenment, or 20th century New Age sense. Instead, I have tried to update those old mind-is-prior-to-matter concepts in the light of modern Information Theory and Quantum Physics.

    One advantage of Enformationism is that it bypasses the "combination problem", by avoiding the use of "Consciousness" to describe the "micro-experiences" of fundamental particles of nature. Instead, my thesis makes abstract Information the fundamental substance (or essence) of the physical + mental world, including human feelings. Whereas Spinoza labelled his "universal substance" as "God", my thesis uses the less metaphorically encumbered term "Information". When combined with modern Evolutionary Theory, Fundamental Information organizes & complexifies over time, so that a late development is the "recent" (cosmic timeline) emergence of human-level Consciousness. Hence, there's no need to explain how atoms and rocks "experience" their world. On the lower levels, Information exchange is equivalent to Energy emittance & absorption in matter. Any questions? :nerd:


    Panpsychism : The view has a long and venerable history in philosophical traditions of both East and West, and has recently enjoyed a revival in analytic philosophy. . . . . And whilst physicalism offers a simple and unified vision of the world, this is arguably at the cost of being unable to give a satisfactory account of the emergence of human and animal consciousness. Panpsychism, strange as it may sound on first hearing, promises a satisfying account of the human mind within a unified conception of nature.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/

    The Combination Problem :
    The combination problem is most obviously a challenge for constitutive micropsychism, although as we shall see there are forms of it that threaten other kinds of panpsychism. According to constitutive micropsychism, micro-level entities have their own very basic forms of conscious experience, and in brains these micro-level conscious entities somehow come together to constitute human and animal consciousness. The problem is that this is very difficult to make sense of: “little” conscious subjects of experience with their micro-experiences coming together to form a “big” conscious subject with its own experiences.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/

    The EnFormAction Hypothesis : Emergent Evolution
    http://bothandblog3.enformationism.info/page23.html
  • Gregory
    2.8k


    For Spinoza a rock is God but God is not a rock. God has intellect and consciousness (will) but no free will because Spinoza doesn't believe in free will, be it in God or humans. The only consciousness are our souls and God's divinity. A rock is is only conscious in that it comes out of God, who is conscious. You simply can't approach a work like this with the so-called hard problem and all that. Spinoza doesn't talk in those terms
  • Valentinus
    1.2k

    I have read the books. I am not arguing on the basis of authority. You will have to forgive me for not being interested in your attempts to do so.
  • Valentinus
    1.2k

    Nice.
    I particularly like the Leibniz back flip at the end.
    There is a departure from Anselm here in that the transcendent creator is presented as the first idea that occurs to one rather than something your mind can barely conceive.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    :chin:

    :up:

    ↪180 Proof I truly appreciate your complex answer, though I must admit my philosophical language is very limited, so I couldn't understand everything you wrote.
    Nonetheless, absolutely every video and material written says Spinoza thought everything was conscious.
    Eugen
    All I can say about this is that Spinoza didn't make videos to convey his philosophy. ("Ok, boomer!") :roll:

    The problems still remain for me:
    1. How come small conscious entities form larges conscious entities?
    I don't understand this question.

    2. If 1 is true, and everything is a whole, how come that whole isn't conscious itself?
    How come a crowd of persons is not itself a person? Or trillions upon trillions of cells in a person but she is not also a cell? Or a barrel of apples isn't itself an apple?
    ( @last paragraph) In other words, Eugen, the premise of your question is what's known as a compositional fallacy.

    3. How come consciousness arises from a non-conscious thing?
    How come walking "arises from" still legs? Or strawberry flavor "arise from" tasteless atoms? Or songs "arise from" breathing? Or stars "arise from" nebulae of helium gas? Or smoke "arises from" :fire: ...
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    Substance (i.e. "God") is not conscious insofar as consciousness is intentional...180 Proof

    What do you think about the etymology of the word 'substance' that is used in this context? As you're aware, the Greek original was ouisia, which is a form of the Greek 'to be'. it was then translated as 'substantia' into Latin, meaning 'that in which attributes inhere', thence into 'substance' in English. But if the word used was 'being' or 'subject' it is nearer in meaning to the original term than 'substance' which in normal usage means 'a type of material with uniform properties'. I mean, if Spinoza's philosophy was held to say that there is really only a single subject, it might convey the notion more accurately than a single substance. What do you think?
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    I very much agree. By claiming there is only one unique substance S implies that only one unique subject is real with no 'separate objects' to be conscious of or lacking; thus, unconscious & unwilling acosmism – the entire cosmos is a mode because it can be conceived of, S contends, as not existing ... just like any particular briny drop sprayed from a wave (natura naturata) rolling across the surface of the deep (natura naturans).
  • Olivier5
    2k
    Is there a connection between the sefirot of Kabbalah and Spinoza?
  • Gregory
    2.8k


    I think so. "this is an illusion to an idea found in latter cabalistic philosophy. These 'shard', also called 'shells', form the ten counterpoles to the ten sefiroth, which are the ten stages in the revelation of God's creative power. The shards, representing the forces of evil and dafkness, we're originally mixed with the light of the sefiroth." ( Carl Jung)

    Modes break like vessels and are really vessels of attributes which subsist in the simple Intellect
  • Olivier5
    2k
    But that's a Jung quote, not a Spinoza quote.
  • Gregory
    2.8k


    Pure pantheism would have material modes and the infinite deity united perfectly as one being. Spinoza has infinite "attributes" subsisting between the Intellect and modes. He speaks of these in many elaborate ways (see the articles of modes and attributes in Spinoza on the Sanford website). Kaballah makes the attributes be described in 10 ways, and although Spinoza doesn't say that, we still have to understand him with the Jewish culture he was raised in. Speaking of God's attributes in these ways was very Jewish (and foreign to the Catholicism of the time)
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    No. The Tractatus Theologico-Politicus makes explicit why not.
  • Olivier5
    2k
    Right. Spinoza was not a cabalist and would have treated these sorts of things as superstition.
  • Eugen
    475
    No problem, it is just your opinion is totally different from all I've heard so far, and I guess they've all read books like you did.
  • Eugen
    475
    if you're trying to criticise Spinoza,fdrake

    I'm not here to criticize, I have nothing against Spinoza, especially when I myself used to believe in something very similar to his view. I'm here to understand. Every time I encounter a metaphysical idea related to consciousness (and spinozism is related to consciousness), I try to find out how is that related to materialism, panpsychism, epiphenomenalism, idealism, dualism, or if it's something totally new. I'm trying to find out how that metaphysical idea deals with the hard problem, the meta hard problem, the combination problem, the dissociation problem, or the interaction problem.
    Insofar, depending on the interpretation one prefers, in my opinion, spinozism has to deal either with the hard problem (a non-conscious force causes consciousness), or the combination problem. Moreover, it always has to deal with epiphenomenalism, even if it's not a classical case of epiphenomenalism.
    I'm not saying that by having to deal with those issues, a certain idea is automatically wrong. Maybe Spinoza manages to avoid those issues or to give a solution to them.

    I thought we'd be able to take it for granted that something which emerges from a collective of agents isn't necessarily conscious - like countries weren't. If you need more examples to block the syllogism, a handshake of agreement emerges from the actions of two agents, but is not conscious. Is that a clearer example?fdrake
    I'm not arguing crowds are conscious, I don't think they are, but I think that's an argument against panpsychism. I'm just saying that I've repeatedly heard/read that in Spinoza was a panpsychist (even on Wikipedia) and that in his view everything has consciousness. I've also sent you a quote from Spinoza saying: “all [individual things], though in different degrees, are...animated”1
    i. Now:
    A. If he was a panpsychist - a rock is conscious, a mountain, which can be divided into rocks is also conscious. So on what basis two guys shaking hands cannot form a new conscious entity?
    B. If S wasn't a panpsychist, please tell me where could I frame him? Was he a materialist, a dualist, an idealist? Can we consider his metaphysics totally out of these concepts, therefore avoiding all the issues those metaphysical ideas encounter?
    If someone asked S about the hard problem or the combination problem, how would he respond?
  • Eugen
    475
    How come walking "arises from" still legs? Or strawberry flavor "arise from" tasteless atoms? Or songs "arise from" breathing? Or stars "arise from" nebulae of helium gas? Or smoke "arises from" :fire: ...180 Proof

    Q1, 4, 5 - weak emergence, you can reduce and deduce everything from the properties of its components
    Q 2,3 - how do you define flavor and songs?

    I thought these kinds of questions have long disappeared from the materialists' list of arguments, but ''ok boomer''. :joke:

    Look, I'm not even arguing that encountering the hard problem or the combination problem, aka compositional fallacy automatically makes metaphysics invalid. I'm not here to debate any problem. I'm just trying to find out how spinozism would answer these questions, or if it is related at all with them, like panpsychism or materialism.
    So is spinozism something totally new in your opinion?
    My guess is that you would consider it closer to materialism. If not, what makes it so different from materialism, panpsychism, dualism, idealism, or even epiphenomenalism?
    How do you see it?
  • Eugen
    475
    God has intellect and consciousness (will)Gregory
    but is God conscious (not meta-conscious)? Does God will?
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