• Agustino
    11.1k
    This sounds very much like Kabbalism and also Gurdjieff's teaching about finer and courser 'energies'. The latter is comprehensively set forth in Ouspensky's A New Model of the Universe: Principles of the Psychological Method In Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion, and Art. It must be nearly thirty years since I read that book!Janus
    It is also very much found in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, where the distinction is between God's energies and God's essence (refer to energy-essence distinction). As such, at the stage of theosis (or union with God), we achieve union by grace with God's energies, but not with God's essence which necessarily remains incomprehensible & hidden. So in Eastern Orthodox spirituality, spiritual development is also viewed as going from coarser aspects of reality to ever-more subtle ones.

    From the link I gave above:
    In Eastern Orthodox theology God's essence is called ousia, "all that subsists by itself and which has not its being in another"[ my addition: incidentally ousia is the Greek for substance ;) ], and is distinct from his energies (energeia in Greek, actus in Latin) or activities as actualized in the world.

    The ousia of God is God as God is. The essence, being, nature and substance of God as taught in Eastern Christianity is uncreated, and cannot be comprehended in words. According to Lossky, God's ousia is "that which finds no existence or subsistence in another or any other thing".[9] God's ousia has no necessity or subsistence that needs or is dependent on anything other than itself.[9]

    It is the energies of God that enable us to experience something of the Divine, at first through sensory perception and then later intuitively or noetically. As St John Damascene states, "all that we say positively of God manifests not his nature but the things about his nature."[10]

    All this, as you see, does bear on my reading of Spinoza, as I think Spinoza landed very close to this understanding even though it was likely not available to him by direct sources.
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k
    So there is a sense in which this eternal self goes on existing since God goes on existingAgustino

    Surely Spinoza here is referring to the immortality of the soul?

    The ideas of particular things, or of modes, that do not exist... — Part II

    Hence, so long as particular things do not exist, except in so far as they are comprehended in the attributes of God... — Part II

    I think this is the distinction between appearance and reality, common to many a metaphysic, whereby 'individual particulars' are not real in their own right - that is the meaning of saying 'they do not exist'. If that was translated from Latin, it would be interesting to see what Latin phrase was translated as 'do not exist'. Because here I think the meaning is that they don't truly exist, but are only real by virtue of them being 'comprehended in the attributes of God'.

    if God has attributes of both infinite thought and infinite extension, then the eternal existence of his modes would be as both.Janus

    God cannot be 'extended' because anything 'extended' is 'divisible'.
  • Janus
    5.4k
    God cannot be 'extended' because anything 'extended' is 'divisible'.Wayfarer

    This is not correct. Bodies, as finite modes of infinite extension, have boundaries, and are hence divisible. You are conflating the idea of infinite extension with the idea of a body.
  • Janus
    5.4k


    Interesting; I must do more reading into Eastern Orthodoxy. :)
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    You are conflating the idea of infinite extension with the idea of a body.Janus
    Yes, infinite extension is by default unbounded.

    I think this is the distinction between appearance and reality, common to many a metaphysic, whereby 'individual particulars' are not real in their own right - that is the meaning of saying 'they do not exist'. If that was translated from Latin, it would be interesting to see what Latin phrase was translated as 'do not exist'. Because here I think the meaning is that they don't truly exist, but are only real by virtue of them being 'comprehended in the attributes of God'.Wayfarer
    With regards to the quoted bits from Part II of the Ethics, I doubt Spinoza was referring to the distinction between appearance and reality. Rather he was just referring to particular modes which don't empirically exist right now. For example, your ancestors from 5 generations ago, they don't exist right now, they are inexistent finite modes. And yet, since God exists, and their existence is a mode of God (the one Substance) it follows that in a sense they exist - in the same sense that the infinitude of possible intersecting straight lines exist given a circle:

    The nature of a circle is such that if any number of straight lines intersect within it, the rectangles formed by their segments will be equal to one another; thus, infinite equal rectangles are contained in a circle. — Part II
    So even if a particular set of lines are not actually drawn right now, they still exist given the nature of the circle from which they emerge in the first place.
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    Interesting; I must do more reading into Eastern Orthodoxy. :)Janus
    This is a good book (as an introduction) if you haven't already read it.
  • Janus
    5.4k
    Thanks Agustino, I'll look into it.
  • Πετροκότσυφας
    739
    I think this is the distinction between appearance and reality, common to many a metaphysic, whereby 'individual particulars' are not real in their own right - that is the meaning of saying 'they do not exist'. If that was translated from Latin, it would be interesting to see what Latin phrase was translated as 'do not exist'. Because here I think the meaning is that they don't truly exist, but are only real by virtue of them being 'comprehended in the attributes of God'.Wayfarer

    the Absolute in so far as it is the Absolute cannot really dispense with the phenomenal world, just as the “existence” of the phenomenal world is inconceivable except on the basis of the “existence” of the Absolute, or more properly, the “existence” which is the Absolute itself.

    Of course, the Absolute can be conceived by the intellect as being beyond all determinations, and as we have seen earlier, it can even be. intuited as such, in its eternal Unity and absolute unconditionality. We can go even a step further and conceive it as something beyond the condition of unconditionality itself.

    But such a view of the Absolute is an event that takes place only in our consciousness. In the realm of extra-mental reality, the Absolute cannot even for a single moment remain without manifesting itself.

    As Haydar Amuli says, “the sea, as long as it is the sea, cannot separate itself from the waves; nor can the waves subsist independently of the sea. Moreover, when the sea appears in the form of a wave, the form cannot but be different from the form of another wave, for it is absolutely impossible for two waves to appear in one and the same place under one single form”.

    Haydar Amuli recognizes in this peculiar relationship between the sea and the waves an exact image of the ontological relationship between the stage of undifferentiated “existence” and the stage of the differentiated world. He remarks “Know that absolute existence or God is like a limitless ocean, while the determined things and individual existents are like innumerable waves or rivers. Just as the waves and rivers are nothing other than the unfolding of the sea according to the forms required by its own perfections which it possesses qua water as well as by its own peculiarities which it possesses qua sea, so are the determined existents nothing other than the unfolding of absolute existence under those forms that are required by its own essential perfections as well as by its peculiarities belonging to it as its inner articulations”.

    “Further, the waves and rivers are not the sea in one respect, while in another they are the same thing as the sea. In fact, the waves and rivers are different from the sea in respect of their being determined and particular. But they are not different from the sea in respect of their own essence and reality, namely, from the point of view of their being pure water. In exactly the same way, the determined existents are different from the Absolute in their being determined and conditioned, but they are not different from it in respect of their own essence and reality which is pure existence. For from this latter viewpoint, they are all nothing other than existence itself”.

    It is interesting that Haydar Amuli goes on to analyze this ontological situation from a kind of semantic point of view. He says “The sea, when it is determined by the form of the wave, is called waves. The selfsame water, when determined by the form of the river, is called a river, and when determined by the form of the brook, is called a brook. In the same way it is called rain, snow, ice, etc.. In reality, however, there is absolutely nothing but sea or water, for the wave, river, brook, etc. are merely names indicating the sea. In truth (i.e. in its absolutely unconditioned reality) it bears no name; there is nothing whatsoever to indicate it. No, it is a matter of sheer linguistic convention even to designate it by the word sea itself ”. And he adds that exactly the same is true of “ existence ” or “reality”.

    [...]

    The most important conclusion to be drawn from a careful consideration of the metaphors that have just been given is that there are recognizable in the metaphysical Reality or the Absolute itself two different dimensions. In the first of these dimensions, which is metaphysically the ultimate stage of Reality, the Absolute is the Absolute in its absoluteness, that is, in its absolute indetermination. It corresponds to the Vedantic concept of the parabrahman, the “Supreme Brahman”, and to the neo-Confucian idea of the wu chi, the “Ultimateless”. Both in Vedanta and Islam, the Absolute at this supreme stage is not even God, for after all “God” is but a determination of the Absolute, in so far at least as it differentiates the Absolute from the world of creation.

    In the second of the two domains, the Absolute is still the Absolute, but it is the Absolute in relation to the world. It is the Absolute considered as the ultimate source of the phenomenal world, as Something which reveals itself in the form of Multiplicity. It is only at this stage that the name God or Allah in Islam becomes applicable to the Absolute. It is the stage of the parameshvara, the supreme Lord, in Vedanta, and in the neo-Confucian world-view the position of the t’ai chi, the “ Supreme Ultimate ” which is no other than the wu chi, the “ Ultimate of Nothingness ” as an eternal principle of creativity.

    Such is the position generally known as “ oneness of existence ” (wahdat al-wujud) [...] It will be clear by now that it is a serious mistake to consider as it has often been done this position as pure monism or even as “existential monism”. For it has evidently an element of dualism in the sense that it recognizes two different dimensions of reality in the metaphysical structure of the Absolute. Nor is it of course right to regard it as dualism, for the two different dimensions of reality are ultimately, i.e. in the form of coincidentia oppositorum, one and the same thing. The “oneness of existence” is neither monism nor dualism. As a metaphysical vision of Reality based on a peculiar existential experience which consists in seeing Unity in Multiplicity and Multiplicity in Unity, it is something far more subtle and dynamic than philosophical monism or dualism.
    — Toshihiko Izutsu
  • Wayfarer
    6.2k


    The “oneness of existence” is neither monism nor dualism. — Toshihiko Izutsu

    Right! Very important point and thank you for it. I had a thread on the old Forum, about 'a unity which is not an entity', which explored a similar idea. I think this is an aspect of non-dualism, which is a very elusive concept.

    This is a good book (as an introduction) if you haven't already read it.Agustino

    It's a powerful work, that. I also have a book called A Different Christianity by Martin Amis, who was resident at Mt Athos whilst researching it. I do read some of those Eastern Orthodox theologians but I have to be careful as I could easily be pulled into their orbit ;-)

    The ousia of God is God as God is.

    Reading those quotes from Spinoza, it is worth recalling that the term 'substance' in philosophy, was translated from 'ousia' in Aristotle. I think it is nearer in meaning to 'being' or 'subject' than what we understand as 'substance'. So, in the case of Spinoza's 'one substance', if it is read as 'one Being', though perhaps not strictly accurate, it does convey something of importance, I think.
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    I also have a book called A Different Christianity by Martin AmisWayfarer
    Thanks, I haven't come across that one yet.

    I do read some of those Eastern Orthodox theologians but I have to be careful as I could easily be pulled into their orbit ;-)Wayfarer
    >:O

    I think it is nearer in meaning to 'being' or 'subject' than what we understand as 'substance'.Wayfarer
    Yeah, it does cash out in terms of the interrelationship of all (one) existence. Spinoza was using the term in Aristotelian fashion anyway with slight Cartesian tints. Basically, substance was the bearer of modes and predicates (as per Aristotle's definition) and also that which had an independent existence - ie it existed in-itself and did not depend for its existence on another.
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    Gurdjieff's teaching about finer and courser 'energies'. The latter is comprehensively set forth in Ouspensky's A New Model of the Universe: Principles of the Psychological Method In Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion, and Art. It must be nearly thirty years since I read that book!Janus
    I've never read Gurdjieff through Ouspensky, I've read him through Osho who commented at length on him - I must have been 13 or so back then, so it's quite a long time ago.
  • bahman
    530
    Physical is the stuff we experience and it ontologically exists. Experience is physical state and it ontologically doesn't exist.
  • Janus
    5.4k


    Gurdjieff at 13? That is an early start!
  • Agustino
    11.1k
    Gurdjieff at 13? That is an early start!Janus
    Yes, that's what happens when your atheist father has Osho books lying around >:O .
  • Starthrower
    34
    Correction: defined in terms of OUR physics.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.