Spinoza on self-determination, the naturalised will and the ethics of the improvement of the understanding

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Spinoza on self-determination, the naturalised will and the ethics of the improvement of the understanding

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Title Spinoza on self-determination, the naturalised will and the ethics of the improvement of the understanding
Author Dahlbeck, Johan
Date 2018
English abstract
Self-causation, for Spinoza, is reserved for God (E1D3). Spinoza’s is a kind of self-causation that differs in some key regards from the standard interpretation of causa sui. For something to be self-caused for Spinoza does not mean that it may somehow contradict the law-like regularities of nature. It simply means that it encompasses the full causal explanation necessary for understanding and explaining why it is determined to act the way it does. God, Spinoza asserts, ’acts from the laws of his nature alone, and is compelled by no one’ (E1p17). Because Spinoza’s God is equivalent to Nature as substance (the immanent cause of all things), the laws of God’s nature are the same as the law-like regularities of nature. To act freely, then, is to act from the necessity of one’s own nature. It is not to act contrary to one’s nature as this would violate Spinoza’s definition of freedom as that ’which exists from the necessity of its nature alone, and is determined to act by itself alone’ (E1D7). The only thing that qualifies for this kind of freedom is God (E1p17c2). Everything else, whether human or otherwise, is causally determined and that ’which has been determined by God to produce an effect, cannot render itself undetermined’ (E1p27). Spinoza’s metaphysics allows for no exceptions here. Accordingly: ’In nature there is nothing contingent, but all things have been determined from the necessity of the divine nature to exist and produce an effect in a certain way’ (E1p29). This means that singular things in nature ’can neither exist nor be determined to produce an effect unless it is determined to exist and produce an effect by another cause […] and so on, to infinity’ (E1p28). Self-causation, then, is out of the picture for humans. For someone to be the cause of him- or herself would mean acting contrary to the regularities of nature. With regards to this Spinoza concludes: ’It is impossible that a man should not be a part of Nature, and that he should be able to undergo no changes except those which can be understood through his nature alone, and of which he is the adequate cause’ (E4p4). As humans we are part of nature and being part of nature means being dependent upon antecedent causes for our existence.
Conference
Leer a Spinoza : Problemas en torno a la creación, la interpretación, la actualidad y la influencia del spinozismo (16-17 August 2018 : Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Language eng (iso)
Subject Spinoza
Naturalised will
Self-determination
Causal determinism
Naturalism
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/26115 Permalink to this page
Link https://grupospinoza.wordpress.com/encuentro-inter... (external link to related web page)
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