ESSAY TWO - Spinoza
Thought as an Attribute of Substance

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     to whom I express my appreciation. 

2.  JBY  added  commentaries  and  paragraph  numbers.

3.  Citation abbreviations.

4.  { JBY Comment or endnote }.
     EB, Britannic—Britannica Online subscription or trail period. 
     RHElectronic Dictionary. 

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                set your browser options to show links underlined. 

6.  Please  e-mail  errors, clarification requests, disagreement,  
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7.  There is much in this essay and my commentaries that you will not 
     agree   with   or   even  think  biased  or  nonsense—nevertheless, 
     partake  of  them  as  you  would  a  pomegranate;  relish the flesh, 
     but spit-out the pits.   Bk.XIA:13681. 

8.  The  aim  of the essay is to show that Spinoza's body-mind solution,       E2:Bk.XIV:2:53  
     by removing  prejudices (preconceived ingrained notions)  provides 
     the philosophical foundation for socialism
the organic interdepend- 
     ence of parts.    Def. I, Endnote N8n, and Endnote 73nOrganic.  
     I  disagree  with  IIyenkov's premise.   I believe society  evolves  as      Dawkins:192:Genes
     technological  advancement   and   trade    tips   the   scale   toward  
 enlightened self-interest  and  away  from  jungle self-interest.            possibility of conflict
     Technological advancementfire, wheel, writing, electricity, steam           Mark Twain
     engine,  combustion engine,  radio,  television,  computer,  internet,           Kindness
     nuclear power,  space travel, ........—all have tended (and will tend)
          cultural lag
     to lead people to be more cooperative; an enlightened one-world.
                Christian Dogmas
     Perhaps  we are saying the same thing—technological advancement            Millennium
     and  trade  'cures'  the prejudiced mind; an example is say of slavery           Hall:3:16
(internal combustion engines and electrical motors made slave power
—no slavery).  Another  example:  except  under  water 
     and  in  space,  air  is  plentiful,  and  therefore  free
—we don't have
     to fight over it.

The  misuse  of  wealth,  causing  slums,  prejudice,  and  uneducated 
     masses, is idolatry. When affluence reaches a critical mass, a decent      { Read and re-read
     minimum income will be guaranteed to all; eradicating slums, prejudice    "The Affluent Society" }
     and uneducated masses. It is not altruism, it is evolution due to evolv-
     ing  technological  advancement  making products cheaper and main-     
     taining aggregate demand.  

      The Consumption Curve is similar to the Reality Curve.   As affluence 
     increases,  enjoyment  of  the  marginal  (urgency of) consumer items
     decreases—as, in normal conditions, for air.

From "The Great Thoughts" Compiled by George Seldes; ISDN 034529887X, Page 285.

From Lewis Mumford's "The City in History"; ISDN 156731211X, Page 571. 

From Thomas More's "Utopia"; ISDN 0521347971, Page 56. 

     From Marshall McLuhan's "Understanding Media" ISDN 0262631598, Page 108.

 < E1:Bk.XV:2601 >

Def. I.   
dialectics.   {from Britannica - Names}


Def. II.  materialism, Britannica, The ISM Book.                                        D2:Bk.III:235 

Def. IIa.  HISTORICAL MATERIALISM - Wikipedia, Britannica - The ISM Book.     

Def. IIb.  DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM - Britannica - The ISM Book.


Def. III.  positivismWikipediA, modern positivism, Britannica.  
Einstein remained all his life one of its staunchest critics because of its inference
           that quantum mechanics implied indeterminism.

Def. IV.  scholasticismWikipediA, Britannica. 



                                     mind-body dualism; Bk.XX:18819. 
Axiom I.   Body (extension) and thought (mind, soul) represent opposite sides  
               of the same coin (substance)—G-D sive Nature.
               {Cash Valueawareness that everything is a part of one organism—G-D.} 
               [9], [10],[11], [12], [13], [14], [25], [37], [60]. 

Essay Two - Spinoza: Thought as an Attribute of Substance. 

[1]   An  immense  role  in  the  development  of  logic,  and  in preparing 
the  ground  for  modern  views on its subject matter, a role far from fully 
appreciated,  was  played  by  Spinoza.  Like Leibniz, Spinoza rose high
above  the  mechanistic  limitations  of  the  natural  science  of  his time. 
Any  tendency  directly  to  universalise  partial  forms  and  methods  of 
thinking  only  useful  within  the  bounds  of  mechanistic, mathematical 
natural science was also foreign to him.

[2]   Insofar as logic was preserved alongside the doctrine of substance,  
Spinoza  treated  it  as  an  applied  discipline by analogy with medicine, 
since its concern proved not to be the invention of artificial rules but the 
co-ordination  of human intellect with the laws of thought understood as 
                                      Nature }
an  'attribute'  of  the natural whole, only as 'modes of expression' of the  
universal  order  and  connection  of  things.  He  also  tried  to work out 
logical problems on the basis of this conception. 

[3]  Spinoza understood thought much more profoundly and, in essence, 
dialectically,  which  is  why  his  figure  presents  special  interest in the 
history  of  dialectics; he was probably the only one of the great thinkers 
of the pre-Marxian era who knew how to unite brilliant models of acutely 
                                                                               { see body-mind? }
dialectical   thought    with   a   consistently   held   materialist   principle          E2:Bk.XIV:2:53
(rigorously  applied  throughout  his  system)  of  understanding thought 
and  its  relations  to  the  external  world  lying  in the space outside the 
human  head.   The  influence  of  Spinoza's  ideas  on  the  subsequent 
development  of  dialectical  thought  can  hardly  be  exaggerated.  'It is 
therefore  worthy  of note that thought must begin by placing itself at the 
standpoint  of  Spinozism;  to  be  a  follower  of Spinoza is the essential 
commencement of all Philosophy.' 
[Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Hegel] 

[4]   But  orthodox  religious  scholasticism,  in  alliance  with  subjective 
                                                               { accuse }                  { an atheist } 
idealist  philosophy,  has  not  ceased  to  flog  Spinoza  as a 'dead dog', 
treating  him  as a living and dangerous opponent.  Elementary analysis 
                                                                                                   { How? } 
reveals  that  the main principles of Spinoza's thought directly contradict
the  conception  of  'thought'  developed  by  modern positivism all along 
the  line.  The  most  modern systems of the twentieth century still clash 
in  sharp  antagonism  in  Spinoza;  and  that  obliges  us to analyse the 
theoretical  foundation  of his conception very carefully, and to bring out 
the  principles  in  it that, in rather different forms of expression perhaps, 
remain the most precious principles of any scientific thinking to this day,
Why heatedly? } 
and as such are very heatedly disputed by our contemporary opponents 
of dialectical thought. 
[5]   Hegel  once  noted  that  Spinoza's philosophy was very simple and 
easy  to  understand.  And  in  fact  the  principles  of his thinking, which 
constitute   the  essential  commencement of all Philosophy, i.e. the real      Law of Organisms 
foundation  on  which  alone  it  is  possible to erect the edifice of philos-       Golden Rule 
ophy  as  a  science,  are brilliant precisely in their crystal clarity, free of 
all reservations and ambiguities. 
[6]   It  is  not  so  easy,  however,  to  bring  these brilliant principles out 
because  they are decked out in the solid armour of the constructions of 
formal  logic  and  deductive  mathematics  that  constitute  the  'shell' of 
Spinoza's system,  its (so to say) defensive coat of mail.  In other words, 
                                                                                         { ? }
the  real  logic  of  Spinoza's  thinking  by  no  means  coincides with the 
formal  logic  of  the  movement  of his 'axioms', 'theorems', 'scholia', and 
their proofs. 

[7]   'Even  with  philosophers  who  gave  their  work  a  systematic form,  
e.g.  Spinoza,  the  real  inner  structure  of  their system is quite distinct 
from  the  form  in which they consciously presented it,'  Karl Marx wrote 
to Ferdinand Lassalle.  Marx would have wanted Spinoza to explicitly express the 
example I give above. } 

[8]   Our  job  then  cannot  be  once  more to paraphrase the theoretical 
foundations  on  which  Spinoza  built his main work, the Ethics, and the 
conclusions  that  he drew from them by means of his famous 'geometric 
modus'.  In that case it would be more proper simply to copy out the text 
of  the  Ethics  itself  once again.  Our job is to help the reader to under- 
stand  the  'real  inner  structure' of his system, which far from coincides 
with   its   formal  exposition,  i.e.  to  see  the  real  'cornerstone'  of  his 
reflections  and  to  show  what real conclusions were drawn from them, 
or could be drawn from them, that still preserve their full topicality. 

[9]   That  can  only  be  done in one way, and one way only, which is to 
show  the  real  problem  that  Spinoza's  thought  came up against quite 
independently   of  how  he  himself  realised  it  and  in  what  terms  he 
expressed  it  for himself and for others (i.e. to set the problem out in the 
language of our century), and then to trace what were the real principles 
(once  more  independently  of  Spinoza's  own  formulation of them)  on 
which  he  based  the solution of the problem.  Then it will become clear 
that  Spinoza  succeeded  in  finding  the  only  formulation  exact for his 
time  of  a  real  problem that remains the great problem of our day, only 
formulated in another form. 
[10]  We formulated this problem in the preceding Essay One.                          Mark Twain

Spinoza found a very simple solution to it, brilliant in its simplicity for our           Bk.XX:18819.  
day  as  well  as  his:  the problem is insoluble only because it has been           Durant3 
wrongly  posed.  There  is  no  need  to  rack one's brains over how the 
Lord G-D 'unites' 'soul' (thought) and 'body' in one complex, represented        E2:Bk.XIV:2:53 
initially  (and by definition)  as  different  and  even contrary principles        Descartes' error
allegedly  existing  separately  from  each  other  before  the 'act' of  this 
'uniting' (and thus, also being able to exist after their 'separation'; which 
is  only  another  formulation  of the thesis of the immortality of the soul, 
one of the cornerstones of Christian theology and ethics).  In fact, there 
simply  is  no  such  situation; and  therefore there is also no problem of 
'uniting' or 'co-ordination'. {Cash Valueawareness that everything is a part of one

[11]    There  are  not  two  different  and  originally  contrary  objects  of 
investigation body and thought, but only one single object, which is the        Bk.XX:18819. 
thinking  body
 of  living,  real  man  (or other analogous being,  if such 
exists  anywhere  in  the  Universe),  only  considered from two different 
and even opposing aspects or points of view.   Living, real thinking man, 
the  sole  thinking  body with which we are acquainted, does not consist 
of  two  Cartesian  halves  'thought lacking a body'  and  a  'body lacking 
thought'.  In  relation  to real man both the one and the other are equally 
fallacious  abstractions, and one cannot in the end model a real thinking 
man from two equally fallacious abstractions. 
[12]   That  is  what  constitutes  the real 'keystone' of the whole system,        1D6 - ONE 
a very simple truth that is easy, on the whole, to understand. 

[13]   It is not a special 'soul', installed by God in the human body as in a 
temporary  residence, that thinks, but the body of man itself.  Thought 
is  a  property,   a  mode  of  existence,  of  the  body,  the  same  as  its 
extension,   i.e.  as  its  spatial  configuration  and  position among other 

[14]    This simple and profoundly true idea was expressed this way by 
Spinoza in the language of his time: thought and extension are not two 
special substances as Descartes taught, but only two attributes of one        Bk.XX:18819. 
                    { thing }             ^ Pineal Gland
and  the  same  organ;   not  two special  objects,  capable  of  existing 
separately and quite independently of each other, but only two different 
and  even  opposite  aspects  under  which  one  and  the  same thing 
appears,  two  different modes of existence, two forms of the manifesta- 
           {     substance       }
tion of some third thing.
                     { ^ ? }

                                { ? }            { substance that is G-D that is Nature }
[15]   What  is  this  third  thing? Real infinite Nature, Spinoza answered. 
It is Nature that extends in space and 'thinks'.  The whole difficulty of the 
Cartesian metaphysics arose because the specific difference of the real 
world  from  the  world as only imagined or thought of was considered to 
be  extension,  a  spatial, geometric  determinateness.  But extension as 
such  just  existed  in  imagination,  only  in  thought.  For as such it can 
generally   only   be  thought  of  in  the  form  of  emptiness,  i.e.  purely 
negatively,  as  the  complete  absence  of any definite geometric shape. 
Ascribing  only  spatial,  geometric  properties  to  Nature  is, as Spinoza 
said,  to  think  of it in an imperfect way, i.e. to deny it in advance one of 
its  perfections.  And  then  it  is  asked how the perfection removed from 
Nature can be restored to her again. 
[16]   The same argumentation applies to thought.   Thought as such is 
the same kind of fallacious abstraction as emptiness.  In fact it is only a 
property,  a  predicate,  an  attribute of that very body which has spatial 
attributes. In other words one can say very little about thought as such; 
it is not a reality existing separately from,  and independently of, bodies 
but  only  a  mode  of existence of Nature's bodies.  Thought and space 
do  not really exist by themselves, but only as Nature's bodies linked by 
chains  of interaction into a measureless and limitless whole embracing 
both the one and the other. 
[17]   By  a  simple  turn  of  thought Spinoza cut the Gordian knot of the 
'psychophysical problem',  the  mystic  insolubility  of which still torments 
the   mass   of   theoreticians  and  schools  of  philosophy,  psychology, 
physiology  of  the  higher  nervous  system, and other related sciences 
that  are  forced  one  way  or another to deal with the delicate theme of 
the  relation  of  'thought'  to 'body',  of  'spiritual' to 'material', of 'ideal' to 
'real', and such like topics. 
[18]   Spinoza  showed  that  it  is  only  impossible to solve the problem 
because  it  is  absolutely  wrongly  posed;  and  that such posing of it is 
nothing but the fruit of imagination. 
[19]    It is in man that Nature really performs, in a self-evident way, that 
very activity that we are accustomed to call 'thinking'. In man, in the form 
of  man,  in  his person, Nature itself thinks, and not at all some special 
substance,  source,  or  principle  instilled  into  it  from  outside.  In man, 
therefore,  Nature  thinks of  itself,  becomes  aware  of  itself,  senses 
itself,   acts   on   itself.   And   the  'reasoning',  'consciousness',  'idea', 
'sensation',   'will',   and   all  the  other  special  actions  that  Descartes       Pineal Gland 
described  as modi of thought, are simply different modes of revealing 
a  property inalienable from Nature as a whole, one of its own attributes. 

[20]   But  if  thinking  is always an action performed by a natural and so 
by  a  spatially  determined  body,  it  itself,  too,  is an action that is also 
expressed  spatially, which is why there is not and cannot be the cause 
and  effect  relation  between  thinking  and  bodily action for which the 
Cartesians  were looking.  They did not find it for the simple reason that 
no  such  relation  exists in Nature, and cannot, simply because thinking 
and  the  body  are  two  different  things  at  all, existing separately and 
therefore  capable  of  interacting,  but  one  and  the same thing, only 
expressed by two different modes or considered in two different aspects. 

[21]   Between body and thought there is no relation of cause and effect,
but  the  relation  of an organ (i.e. of a spatially determinate body) to the
mode  of  its  own  action.  The  thinking body cannot cause changes in 
thought,  cannot  act  on  thought,  because  its existence as 'thinking' is 
thought.  If a thinking body does nothing, it is no longer a thinking body 
but  simply  a  body.  But when it does act, it does not do so on thought, 
because its very activity is thought. 
[22]   Thought  as  a  spatially  expressed  activity  therefore cannot also
 secreted from the body performing it as a special 'substance' distinct 
from  the  body,  in  the  way  that bile is secreted from the liver or sweat 
from  sweat  glands.  Thinking  is  not  the  product of an action but the 
action  itself,  considered  at  the  moment  of  its  performance, just as 
walking,  for  example,  is the mode of action of the legs, the 'product' of 
which,  it transpires, is the space walked.  And that is that.  The product 
or  result of thinking may be an exclusively spatially expressed, or exclu- 
sively  geometrically  stated, change in some body or another, or else in 
its  position  relative to other bodies. It is absurd then to say that the one 
gives rise to (or 'causes') the other.  Thinking does not evoke a spatially 
expressed  change  in a body but exists through it (or within it), and vice 
versa; any change, however fine, within that body, induced by the effect 
on  it  of  other bodies, is directly expressed for it as a certain change in 
its mode of activity, i.e. in thinking. 

[23]   The  position  set  out  here  is extremely important also because it 
immediately  excludes  any possibility of treating it in a vulgar materialist, 
mechanistic  key,  i.e.  of  identifying  thought  with immaterial processes 
that  take  place  within  the  thinking  body  (head,  brain  tissue), while 
nevertheless  understanding  that thought takes place precisely through 
these processes. 

[24]   Spinoza  was  well aware that what is expressed and performed in 
the  form  of structural, spatial changes within the thinking body is not at 
all  some  kind  of  thinking  taking place outside of and independently of 
them,  and  vice versa (shifts of thinking by no means express immanent 
movements   of   the   body   within   which   they  arise).  It  is  therefore 
impossible  either  to understand thought through examination, however 
exact  and  thorough,  of  the  spatially geometric changes in the form of 
which  it  is  expressed  within  the  body of the brain, or, on the contrary, 
to  understand  the  spatial,  geometric  changes in the brain tissue from 
the  most  detailed consideration of the composition of the ideas existing 
in the brain. It is impossible, Spinoza constantly repeated, because they 
are one and the same, only expressed by two different means. 

[25]   To  try  to explain the one by the other simply means to double the 
description  of one and the same fact, not yet understood and incompre- 
hensible.  And  although  we  have  two full, quite adequate descriptions 
of  one and the same event, equivalent to one another, the event itself 
falls  outside  both descriptions, as the 'third thing', the very 'one and the 
same'  that  was  not  yet  understood  or  explained.  Because the event 
twice  described  (once  in  the language of the 'physics of the brain' and 
once  in  the  language  of  the  'logic  of  ideas')  can  be  explained and 
                                                                                         { definition }
correspondingly'  understood  only  after bringing out the cause evoking 
the event described but not understood.   { Example: to understand LOVE. } 

                                                                     { a transcendent }
[26]    Bishop  Berkeley   ascribed   the  cause  to ^ God.   And  so  did  
Descartes, Malebranche, and Geulincx.  The shallow, vulgar materialist 
tries  to  explain everything by the purely mechanical actions of external 
things  on  the  sense  organs and brain tissue, and takes for the cause 
the  concrete thing, the sole object, that is affecting our bodily organisa- 
tion  at  a  given  moment  and  causing  corresponding  changes  in our 
body, which we feel within ourselves and experience as our thinking. 

[27]    While   rejecting   the   first   explanation   as   the  capitulation  of  
                                                               { prejudice }
philosophy  before  religious  theological  twaddle,  Spinoza  took a very 
critical  attitude  as  well  toward the superficially materialist-mechanistic 
explanation  of  the  cause  of  thought.  He  very  well understood that it 
was  only  a  'bit'  of an explanation, leaving in the dark the very difficulty .
that Descartes  was forced to bring in God to explain.                                    Refuge of ignorance. 

[28]   For  to  explain  the event we call 'thinking', to disclose its effective 
cause,  it  is necessary to include it in the chain of events within which 
it  arises  of necessity and not fortuitously.  The 'beginnings' and the         My italics.
'ends'  of this chain are clearly not located within the thinking body at all, 
but far outside it. 
[29]   To  explain  a separate, single, sensuously perceived fact passing 
momentarily  before  our  eye,  and  even  the whole mass of such facts, 
as  the  cause  of  thought  means  to explain precisely nothing.  For this
very  fact  exerts  its  effect (mechanical,  say,  or
 light) on stone as well, 
but  no  action  of any kind that we describe as 'thinking' is evoked in the 
stone.  The  explanation  must consequently also include those relations 
of  cause  and effect that of necessity generate our own physical organ- 
isation  capable  (unlike  a  stone)  of  thinking,  i.e.  of  so refracting the 
external  influences  and  so transforming them within itself that they are 
                                                                               { picture on a panel }
experienced  by  the  thinking  body  not  at  all  only as changes arising 
within  itself,  but  as external things, as the shapes of things outside the 
thinking body. 
[30]   For  the  action  produced  on the retina of our eye by a ray of light 
reflected  from  the  Moon  is  perceived by the thinking being not simply 
as  a  mechanical irritation within the eye but as the shape of the thing 
itself,  as the lunar disc hanging in space outside the eye, which means 
that  the  Ego,  the  thinking  substance or creature, directly feels not the 
effect  produced on it by the external thing but something quite different, 
viz.  the  shape  or  form (i.e.  the  spatial,  geometric  configuration) and 
position  of  this external  body,  which  has  been evoked within us as a 
result  of  the  mechanical or light effect. In that lies both the enigma and 
the  whole essence of thinking as the mode of activity of a thinking body 
in distinction to one that does not think. It will readily be understood that 
one  body  evokes  a  change  by  its action in another body; that is fully 
explained  by  the  concepts  of physics. It is difficult, and from the angle 
of  purely  physical  concepts  (and  in  Spinoza's  time  of  even  'purely' 
mechanical,  geometric  concepts)  even  impossible, to explain just why 
and  how  the  thinking  body  feels  and  perceives the effect caused by 
an  external body within itself as an external body, as its, and not as its 
own shape, configuration, and position in space. 
[31]   Such was the enigma, in general, that Leibniz and Fichte came up 
against   later—but  Spinoza  had  already  found a fully rational, though 
only   general,   theoretical   solution.   He  clearly  understood  that  the 
problem   could   only   be   fully  and  finally  solved  by  quite  concrete 
investigation  (including  anatomical  and  physiological)  of  the material 
mechanism  by  which the thinking body (brain) managed to do the trick, 
truly  mystically  incomprehensible  (from  the  angle of purely geometric 
concepts).   But  that  it  did  the  trick  that  it saw the thing and not the 
  { picture on a panelas on a photographic film. }
changes in the particles of the retina and brain that this body caused by
its  light
 effect within the brain was an undoubted fact; and a fact calling 
for  fundamental  explanation  and  in  a  general way outlining paths for 
more concrete study in the future. 
[32]   What  can  the  philosopher say here categorically, who remains a 
philosopher  and  does not become a physiologist, or an anatomist, or a 
physicist?  Or  rather,  what can he say, without plunging into a game of 
the  imagination,  without trying to construct hypothetical mechanisms in 
the fancy by which the trick mentioned 'might', in general, be performed? 
What  can  he  say  while  remaining  on the ground of firmly established 
facts  known  before  and  independently  of any concrete, physiological 
investigation  of  the  inner  mechanisms  of  the  thinking  body, and not 
capable  either  of being refuted or made doubtful by any further probing 
within the eye and the skull? 

[33]   In  the  given,  partial,  though  very  characteristic  case,  there  is 
another, more general problem, namely that of the relation of philosophy 
as  a  special  science  to the concrete research of the natural sciences. 
Spinoza's  position  on  this  point  cannot in principle be explained if we 
start from the positivist idea that philosophy has made all its outstanding 
achievements (and makes them) only by purely empirical 'generalisation 
of  the  progress of its contemporary natural sciences'.  Because natural 
science  did  not  find  the  answers  to  the  problem  before us either in 
the  seventeenth  century,  in  Spinoza's  time,  or even in our day, three 
hundred years later.  Furthermore, the natural science of his day did not 
even  suspect  the  existence  of  such a problem; and when it did, knew 
it  only  in  a  theological  formulation.  As  for  the  'soul' or 'spirit', and in 
general   everything   connected   one   way   or  another  with  'spiritual', 
psychic  life,  the  natural scientists of the time (even the great ones like 
Isaac Newton)  found  themselves  prisoners  of the prevailing (i.e. relig-
scriptural}    {prejudices}
ious,  theological)  illusions.  Spiritual  life  they gladly left to the Church,
and  humbly  acknowledged  its  authority,
 interesting themselves exclu- 
sively  in  the  mechanical characteristics of the surrounding world.  And 
everything  that was inexplicable on purely mechanical grounds was not 
subjected  to  scientific  study  at  all  but  was left to the competence of 

[34]    If Spinoza had in fact tried to construct his philosophical system by 
the  method that our contemporary positivism would have recommended 
to  him,  it  is  not  difficult to imagine what he would have produced as a 
'system'.  He  would  only  have  brought together the purely mechanical 
and religious, mystical 'general ideas' that were guiding all (or almost all) 
naturalists  in  his  day.  Spinoza  understood  very  clearly that religious, 
theological  mysticism  was  the inevitable complement of a purely mech- 
anistic  (geometrical, mathematical)  world  outlook,  i.e. the point of view 
that  considers  the sole 'objective' properties of the real world to be only 
the  spatial,  geometrical  forms  and  relations  of bodies.  His greatness 
was  that he did not plod along behind contemporaneous natural science, 
i.e.  behind  the  one-sided,  mechanistic thinking of the coryphaei of the 
science  of  the  day, but subjected this way of thinking to well substanti- 
ated  criticism  from the angle of the specific concepts of philosophy as a 
special  science.  This  feature  of  Spinoza's  thinking  was  brought  out 
clearly  and  explicitly  by  Frederick Engels:  'It  is to the highest credit of 
the  philosophy  of  the  time  that  it  did not let itself be led astray by the 
restricted   state   of   contemporary  natural  knowledge,  and  that  from 
Spinoza  right  to  the  great  French  materialists it insisted on explaining 
the  world  from  the  world  itself  and  left the justification in detail to the 
natural science of the future.' [Dialectics of Nature] 

[35]   That  is  why  Spinoza  has come down in the history of science as 
an  equal  contributor  to  its  progress  with Galileo and Newton, and not 
{an undistinguished imitator, follower, or successor of an important writer, painter, etc.}
as their epigone, ^ repeating  after  them the general ideas that could be 
drawn  from  their  work.  He investigated reality himself from the special, 
philosophical  angle,  and did not generalise the results and ready-made 
findings   of   other  people's  investigation,   did  not  bring  together  the 
general ideas of the science of his day and the methods of investigation 
characteristic  of  it,  or  the  methodology  and logic of his contemporary 
science.  He  understood  that  that  way  led philosophy up a blind alley, 
and  condemned  it  to  the role of the wagon train bringing up in the rear 
of  the  attacking  army  the  latter's  own  'general  ideas  and  methods', 
including all the illusions and prejudices incorporated in them. 

[36]   That  is  why  he  also  developed  'general  ideas  and methods of 
thought'  to  which  the  natural science of the day had not yet risen, and 
armed  future  science  with  them, which recognised his greatness three 
centuries  later  through  the  pen of  Albert Einstein,  who  wrote  that he 
would  have  liked  'old Spinoza'  as  the  umpire in his dispute with Niels   Heisenberg Principle
Bohr  on  the  fundamental  problems  of quantum mechanics rather than 
Carnap  or  Bertrand Russell,  who  were  contending  for  the  role of the 
'philosopher  of  modern  science'   and  spoke  disdainfully  of  Spinoza's 
philosophy   as   an  'outmoded'  point  of view 'which neither science nor 
philosophy  can  nowadays  accept'.  Spinoza's understanding of thinking 
as  the  activity  of  that  same nature to which extension also belonged is 
an  axiom  of  the  true  modern  philosophy  of  our century, to which true 
science  is  turning  more  and  more  confidently  and  consciously in our 
day  (despite all the attempts to discredit it)  as  the  point  of view of true
                                         { Def. IIb }
[37]   The  brilliance  of  the  solution  of  the  problem  of  the relation of 
thinking to the world of bodies in space outside thought  (i.e. outside the 
head  of  man),  which  Spinoza  formulated in the form of the thesis that 
thought and extension are not two substances, but only two attributes of 
   { see Axiom I }
one and the same substance, can hardly be exaggerated.  This solution
immediately rejected every possible kind of interpretation and investiga-
                                        {prejudicial, dogmatic mind-body dualism
tion  of  thought  by  the logic of spiritualist and dualist constructions, so
making  it  possible  to  find  a  real  way  out both from the blind alley of
the  dualism  of  mind  and  body  and  from  the  specific  blind  alley  of 
            ^ Bk.XIV:1:96.
Hegelianism.  It  is  not  fortuitous that Spinoza's profound idea only first
found  true  appreciation by the dialectical materialists Marx and Engels.
Even  Hegel  found  it a hard nut to crack.  In fact, on the decisive point, 
he  returned  again  to  the position of Descartes, to the thesis that pure        Pineal Gland
thought  is the active cause of all the changes occurring in the 'thinking 
body  of  man',  i.e.  in  the  matter  of  the  brain  and  sense  organs,  in 
language,  in  actions  and their results, including in that the instruments 
of labour and historical events. 

[38]   From  Spinoza's  standpoint  thought  before  and  outside  of its 
spatial  expression  in  the  matter  proper  to  it  simply does not exist. 
All  talk  about  an  idea  that  first  arises  and  then  tries to find material 
suitable  for  its  incarnation,  selecting  the body of man and his brain as 
the  most  suitable  and  malleable material, all talk of thought first arising 
and  then  'being  embodied  in  words',  in  'terms'  and  'statements', and 
later  in  actions,  in  deeds and their results, all such talk, therefore, from 
Spinoza's  point  of  view,  is simply senseless or, what is the same thing, 
          { prejudice, dogmas }
simply  the  atavism  of  religious theological ideas about the 'incorporeal
soul'  as  the  active  cause  of the human body's actions.  In other words,
the  sole  alternative  to  Spinoza's  understanding  proves to be the con- 
ception  that  an  idea can ostensibly exist first somewhere and somehow 
outside  the  body  of  the  thought  and  independently  of  it, and can 
then 'express itself' in that body's actions. 

[39]   What  is  thought  then?  How are we to find the true answer to this 
question,  i.e.  to  give a scientific definition of this concept, and not simply 
to   list   all   the   actions  that  we  habitually  subsume  under  this  term 
(reasoning,  will,  fantasy,   etc.),  as  Descartes  did?    One  quite   clear 
recommendation  follows  from  Spinoza's  position,  namely:  if thought is 
the  mode  of  action  of  the  thinking  body, then, in order to define it, 
we  are  bound  to  investigate  the  mode  of  action  of  the thinking body 
very  thoroughly,  in  contrast  to  the  mode  of  action (mode of existence 
and  movement)  of  the  non-thinking  body;  and  in  no case whatsoever 
to  investigate  the  structure  or  spatial  composition  of  this  body  in an 
inactive  state.  Because  the  thinking  body,  when  it  is  inactive,  is  no 
longer a thinking body but simply a 'body'.  

[40]   Investigation  of  all  the material (i.e. spatially defined) mechanisms
by  which  thought  is  effected  within  the  human  body,  i.e. anatomical, 
physiological  study  of  the brain, of course, is a most interesting scientific 
question;  but  even  the  fullest  answers  to  it  have no direct bearing on 
the  answer  to  the  question 'What is thought?'.  Because that is another 
question.   One  does  not  ask  how  legs  capable  of  walking  are  con- 
structed,  but  in what walking consists.  What is thinking as the action of, 
albeit  inseparable  from,  the material mechanisms by which it is effected, 
yet  not  in  any  way  identical  with mechanisms themselves?  In the one 
case  the  question  is  about the structure of an organ, in the other about 
the  function  the  organ  performs.  The  'structures,  of  course,  must be 
such  that  it  can  carry out the appropriate function; legs are built so that 
they  can  walk  and  not so that they can think.  The fullest description of 
the  structure  of  an  organ,  i.e.  a  description of it in an inactive state, 
however,   has   no   right   to  present  itself  as  a  description,  however 
approximate,  of  the  function  that  the organ performs, as a description 
of the real thing that it does. 

[41]   In order to understand the mode of action of the thinking body it is 
necessary  to  consider  the  mode  of  its active, causal interaction with 
other bodies both 'thinking' and 'non-thinking', and not its inner structure, 
not  the  spatial  geometric  relations  that  exist  between the cells of its 
body and between the organs located within its body. 

[42]   The cardinal distinction between the mode of action of a thinking 
body and that of any other body, quite clearly noted by Descartes and 
the  Cartesians, but not understood by them, is that the former actively 
builds (constructs) the shape (trajectory) of its own movement in space 
in  conformity  with the shape (configuration and position) of the other 
body,  coordinating  the  shape  of  its own movement (its own activity) 
with  the shape of the other body, whatever it is.  The proper, specific 
form of the activity of a thinking body consists consequently in univer- 
sality,  in that very property that Descartes actually noted as the chief 
distinction  between  human  activity  and  the activity of an automaton 
copying  its  appearance,  i.e. of a device structurally adapted to some 
one limited range of action even better than a human,  but for that very 
reason unable to do 'everything else'. 

[43]   Thus  the  human  hand  can perform movements in the form of a 
circle,  or  a square, or any other intricate geometrical figure you fancy, 
so revealing that it was not designed structurally and anatomically in 
advance  for  any  one  of  these  'actions', and for that very reason is 
capable  of  performing any action.  In this it differs, say, from a pair of 
compasses,  which  describe  circles  much  more  accurately  than the 
hand  but  cannot  draw  the  outlines  of triangles or squares.  In other 
words,  the  action  of a body that 'does not think' (if only in the form of 
spatial  movement,  in  the form of the simplest and most obvious case) 
is determined by its own inner construction by its 'nature', and is quite 
uncoordinated with the shape of the other bodies among which it moves. 
It  therefore  either  disturbs  the  shapes  of the other bodies or is itself 
broken in colliding with insuperable obstacles. 

[44]   Man,  however,  the  thinking body, builds his movement on the 
shape  of  any  other  body.  He  does not wait until the insurmountable 
resistance  of  other  bodies  forces  him  to  turn  off  from  his  path;  the 
thinking  body  goes  freely  round  any  obstacle of the most complicated 
form.   The  capacity  of  a  thinking  body  to  mould  its  own  action 
actively  to  the  shape  of  any  other body, to coordinate the shape of 
its  movement in space with the shape and distribution of all other bodies, 
Spinoza  considered  to be its distinguishing sign and the specific feature 
of that activity that we call 'thinking' or 'reason'. 

[45]    This  capacity,  as  such,  has  its  own  gradations  and  levels  of 
'perfection',  and  manifests  itself  to  the  maximum  in man, in any case 
much  more  so  than  in any other creature known to us.  But man is not 
divided  from the lower creatures at all by that impassable boundary that 
Descartes  drew  between  them  by  his  concept of 'soul' or 'spirit'.  The 
actions  of animals, especially of the higher animals, are also subsumed, 
though to a limited degree, under Spinoza's definition of thinking. 

[46]   This  is  a  very  important  point,  which  presents very real interest. 
For  Descartes  the  animal  was  only  an  automaton,  i.e.  all  its actions 
were    determined   in   advance   by   ready-made   structures,  internally 
inherent  to  it, and  by  the  distribution  of  the  organs  located  within its 
body.  These   actions,   therefore,   could   and   had   to   be  completely 
explained   by  the  following  scheme:  external  effect  movement  of  the 
inner   parts   of   the  body  external  reaction.   The  last  represents  the 
response  (action,  movement)  of  the body evoked by the external effect, 
which  in  essence  is  only  transformed by the working of the inner parts 
of  the  body,  following the scheme rigidly programmed in its construction. 
There  is  a  full  analogy  with the working of a self-activating mechanism 
(pressure  on  a  button  working of the parts inside the mechanism move- 
ment  of  its  external  parts).  This  explanation excluded the need for any 
kind  of  'incorporeal  soul';  everything  was  beautifully explained without 
its  intervention.  Such  in  general,  and  on  the  whole,  is the theoretical 
scheme   of   a   reflex  that  was  developed  two  hundred  years  later in 
natural science in the work of Sechenov and Pavlov. 

[47]    But  this  scheme  is  not  applicable  to  man  because  in  him,  as 
Descartes  himself  so  well  understood,  there is a supplementary link in 
the  chain  of  events (i.e. in  the  chain  of  external  effect working of the 
inner   bodily   organs  according  to  a  ready-made  scheme  structurally 
embodied  in  them  external  reaction)  that  powerfully  interferes  with  it, 
forces  its  way  into  it,  breaking  the  ready-made chain and then joining 
its  disconnected  ends  together  in  a  new  way,  each time in a different 
way,  each  time  in  accordance  with  new conditions and circumstances 
in  the  external  action  not  previously foreseen by any prepared scheme 
and   this   supplementary   link  is   'reflection'  or  'consideration'.    But  a 
'reflection'   is  that  activity (in no way outwardly expressed) which directs 
reconstruction  of  the  very  schemes  of  the  transformation  of  the 
initial  effect  into  response.  Here  the  body itself  is  the  object of its 
own activity. 

[48]   Man's  'response'  mechanisms  are  by  no  means switched on just
as  soon  as  'the  appropriate  button  is  pressed',  as soon as he experi-
ences  an  effect  from  outside.  Before he responds he contemplates, i.e. 
he  does  not  act  immediately  according  to  any  one prepared scheme, 
like  an  automaton  or  an  animal,  but considers the scheme of the forth- 
coming  action  critically,  elucidating  each  time how far it corresponds to 
the  needs  of  the new conditions, and actively correcting, even designing 
all  over  again,  the  whole  set-up  and  scheme  of  the  future actions in 
accordance with the external circumstances and the forms of things. 
[49]   And  since  the  forms  of  things and the circumstances of actions
are  in  principle  infinite  in number, the 'soul' (i.e. 'contemplation') must
be  capable  of  an  infinite  number of actions.  But that is impossible to 
provide  for  in  advance in the form of ready-made, bodily programmed 
schemes.   Thinking   is  the  capacity  of  actively  building  and  recon- 
structing schemes of external action in accordance with any new circum- 
stances,  and  does  not operate according to a prepared scheme as an 
automaton or any inanimate body does. 

[50]    'For while reason is a universal instrument which can serve for all 
contingencies,   these   ['bodily']   organs   have  need  of  some  special 
adaptation for every particular action,' Descartes wrote.  For that reason 
he  was  unable  to  conceive  of  the organ of thought bodily, as struct- 
urally  organised in space.  Because, in that case, as many ready-made, 
structurally  programmed patterns of action would have to be postulated 
in  it  as there were external bodies and combinations of external bodies 
and  contingencies  that  the thinking body would generally encounter in 
its  path,  that  is,  in  principle,  an infinite number.  'From this it follows,' 
Descartes  said,  that  it  is morally impossible that there should be suffi- 
cient  diversity  in any machine to allow it to act in all the events of life in 
the  same  way  as  our  reason  causes  us to act,' i.e. each time taking 
account  again of any of the infinite conditions and circumstances of the 
external  action.   (The   adverb   'morally'   in  Descartes'  statement,  of 
course,  does  not  mean  impossible  'from  the  aspect  of  morals' or of 
'moral  principles',  etc.,   moralement  in  French  meaning  'mentally'  or 
'intellectually' in general.) 

[51]   Spinoza counted the considerations that drove Descartes to adopt
the  concept  of 'soul' to be quite reasonable.  But why not suppose that
the  organ  of  thought,  while  remaining wholly corporeal and therefore 
incapable  of  having  schemes  of its present and future actions ready- 
made  and  innate within it together with its bodily-organised structure, 
was  capable  of  actively  building them anew each time in accordance 
with  the  forms  and  arrangement  of  the  'external  things'?   Why  not 
suppose  that the thinking thing was designed in a special way; that not 
having  any  ready-made  schemes  of  action  within  it,  it acted for that 
very  reason  in  accordance with whatever scheme was dictated to it at 
a  given  moment by the forms and combinations of other bodies located 
outside  it?  For  that  was  the  real role or function of the thinking thing, 
the only functional definition of thinking corresponding to the facts that it 
was  impossible to deduce from structural analysis of the organ in which 
and  by  means  of  which  it  (thinking)  was  performed.  Even  more so, 
a  functional  definition  of  thinking  as  action according to the shape of 
any  other  thing  also  puts structural, spatial study of the thinking thing 
on  the  right  track,  i.e.  study in particular of the body of the brain.  It is 
necessary  to  elucidate  and  discover  in  the  thinking  thing those very 
structural  features  that  enable  it  to perform its specific function, i.e. to 
act  according  to  the  scheme  of  its own structure but according to the 
scheme and location of all other things, including its own body. 

[52]   In  that  form  the materialist approach to the investigation of thought               ---
comes  out  clearly.  Such  is  the  truly  materialist, functional definition of
thought,  or  its  definition  as  the active function of a natural body organ- 
ised  in  a  special way, which prompts both logic (the system of functional 
definitions   of   thought)   and  brain  physiology  (a  system  of  concepts 
reflecting   the   material   structure  of- the  organ  in  and  by  which  this 
function  is  performed)  to  make  a  really  scientific  investigation  of  the 
problem  of  thought,  and  which  excludes  any  possibility of interpreting 
thinking  and  the  matter  of  its  relation to the brain by the logic of either 
spiritualist and dualist constructions or of vulgar mechanistic ones. 

[53]   In  order  to  understand  thought  as  a function, i.e. as the mode of 
action  of  thinking  things  in  the  world of all other things, it is necessary 
to   go   beyond   the  bounds  of  considering  what  goes  on  inside  the 
thinking  body,  and  how  ( whether  it  is  the  human  brain or the human 
being  as  a  whole  who  possesses this brain is a matter of indifference), 
and  to  examine  the  real  system within which this function is performed, 
i.e.  the  system  of  relations  'thinking  body  and  its object'.  What we 
have  in  mind  here, moreover, is not any single object or other in accord- 
ance  with  whose  form  the  thinking  body's  activity  is  built  in any one 
specific   case,   but   any  object  in  general,  and  correspondingly  any 
possible  'meaningful  act'  or  action  in  accordance  with  the  form  of its 

[54]   Thought  can  therefore  only  be  understood  through investigation 
of  its  mode  of  action  in  the  system  thinking  body  nature  as a whole 
(with  Spinoza  it  is  'substance',  'God').  But  if  we  examine a system of 
smaller  volume  and  scale,  i.e. the relations of the thinking body with as 
wide  a  sphere  of  'things'  and  their  forms  as  you  like, but still limited, 
then  we  shall  not  arrive  at  what  thought  is in general (thought in the 
whole  fullness  of  its  possibilities associated with its nature), but only at 
that  limited  mode  of thinking that happens in a given case; and we shall 
therefore  be  taking  only definitions of a partial case of thinking, only its 
modus  (in  Spinoza's  parlance)  as  scientific  definitions  of  thought  in 

[55]   The   whole   business   consists   in   this,   that  the  thinking  body
(in   accordance   with  its  nature)  is  not  linked  at  all  by  its  structural, 
anatomical   organisation   with  any  partial  mode  of  action  whatsoever 
(with  any  partial  form  of  the  external  bodies).  It  is  linked  with  them, 
but  only  currently,  at  the  given  moment, and by no means originally or 
forever.  Its  mode  of  action  has a clearly expressed universal character, 
i.e.   is  constantly  being  extended,  embracing  ever  newer  and  newer 
things  and  forms  of  things,  and  actively  and plastically adapting itself 
to them. 

[56]    That  is  why  Spinoza  also  defined  thought  as  an  attribute  of 
substance,  and  not  as  its  modus,  not  as  a  partial  case.   Thus  he 
affirmed,  in  the  language of his day, that the single system, within which 
thought  was  found  of  necessity  and  not  fortuitously  (which  it may or 
may  not  be),  was  not  a  single body or even as wide a range of bodies 
as  you  wished,  but  only  and solely nature as a whole.  The individual 
body  possessed  thought  only  by  virtue of chance or coincidence.  The 
crossing  and  combination of masses of chains of cause and effect could 
lead  in  one  case  to  the  appearance  of a thinking body and in another 
case  simply  to  a  body,  a stone, a tree, etc.  So that the individual body, 
even  the  human  body,  did  not  possess  thought one whit of necessity. 
Only  nature  as  a  whole was that system which possessed all its perfec- 
tions,  including  thought, of absolute necessity, although it did not realise 
this  perfection  in  any  single  body and at any moment of time, or in any
of its 'modi'.

[57]   In  defining  thought  as  an  attribute  Spinoza  towered  above any 
representative   of   mechanistic   materialism   and   was   at   least   two 
centuries  in  advance  of  his time in putting forward a thesis that Engels  
expressed  in  rather  different  words: 'The point is, however, that mech- 
anism  (and  also  the materialism of the eighteenth century) does not get 
away  from  abstract  necessity,  and hence not from chance either.  That 
matter  evolves  out  of itself the thinking human brain is for him [Haeckel] 
a  pure  accident,  although  necessarily  determined, step by step, where 
it  happens.  But  the  truth  is  that  it is in the nature of matter to advance 
to  the  evolution  of  thinking  beings, hence, too, this always necessarily 
occurs  wherever  the  conditions  for  it  (not  necessarily  identical  at all 
places and times) are present.'  [Dialectics of Nature] 

[58]   That  is  what  distinguishes  materialism,  sensible and dialectical, 
from   mechanistic  materialism  that  knows  and  recognises  only  one 
variety of  'necessity', namely that which is described in the language of 
mechanistically interpreted physics and mathematics.  Yes, only Nature 
as a whole,  understood as an infinite whole in space and time, genera- 
ting  its  own  partial forms from itself, possesses at any moment of time, 
though  not  at  any  point  of  space,  all  the  wealth  of its attributes, 
i.e. those properties that are reproduced in its makeup of necessity and 
not  by  a  chance,  miraculous  coincidence  that  might  just as well not 
have happened. 

[59]   Hence  it  inevitably  follows  logically,  as Engels said, 'that matter 
remains  eternally  the  same  in  all  its  transformations, that none of its 
attributes  can  ever  be lost, and therefore, also, that with the same iron 
necessity  that  it  will  exterminate  on  the earth its highest creation, the 
thinking   mind,   it  must  somewhere  else  and  at  another  time  again 
produce it.' 

[60]   That  was  Spinoza's  standpoint, a  circumstance  that  seemingly 
gave  Engels  grounds  for  replying categorically and unambiguously to 
Plekhanov  when  he  asked:  'So  in  your  opinion  old  Spinoza was 
right  in  saying  that  thought  and extension were nothing but two 
attributes  of  one  and  the same substance?' "Of course," answered 
Engels, "old Spinoza was quite right".' 

[61]   Spinoza's  definition  means  the  following:  in  man, as in any other 
possible  thinking  creature,  the  same  matter  thinks  as  in  other cases 
(other modi)  only  'extends'  in the form of stones or any other 'unthinking     E2:Endnote 49:0a
body';  that  thought  in  fact  cannot  be  separated from world matter and 
counterposed  to  it  itself  as  a special, incorporeal 'soul', and it (thought) 
is  matter's  own  perfection.   That is how Herder and Goethe, La Mettrie 
and  DiderotMarx  and  Plekhanov  (all great 'Spinozists')  and  even the 
young Schelling, understood Spinoza. 

[62]   Such,  let  us  emphasise once more, is the general, methodological 
position  that  later  allowed  Lenin  to  declare  that  it  was  reasonable to 
assume,  as  the  very  foundation  of  matter, a property akin to sensation 
though  not  identical  with  it,  the  property  of  reflection.   Thought,  too, 
according  to  Lenin,  is  the  highest form of development of this universal 
property  or  attribute,  extremely  vital  for  matter.   And if we deny matter 
this  most  important  of  its  attributes, we shall be thinking of matter itself 
'imperfectly',  as  Spinoza  put  it,  or  simply,  as  Engels  and Lenin wrote, 
incorrectly,  one-sidedly,  and  mechanistically.   And then, as a result, we 
should  continually  be  falling  into the most real Berkeleianism, into inter- 
preting  nature  as  a complex of our sensations, as the bricks or elements 
absolutely  specific  to  the  animated being from which the whole world of 
ideas  is  built  (i.e.  the  world as and how we know it).  Because Berkele- 
ianism  too  is  the  absolutely  inevitable  complement  making  good  of a 
one-sided,  mechanistic  understanding  of  nature.  That  is  why Spinoza 
too  said  that  substance,  i.e. the universal world matter, did not possess 
just  the  single  attribute  of  'being  extended'  but  also possessed many 
other  properties  and  attributes as inalienable from it (inseparable from it 
though separable from any 'finite' body).
[63]   Spinoza said more than once that it was impermissible to represent 
thought  as  attribute  in  the  image  and  likeness  of human thought; 
it  was only the universal property of substance that was the basis of any 
'finite  thought',  including  human  thought, but in no case was it identical 
with  it.  To  represent  thought  in  general  in  the  image and likeness of 
existing  human thought, of its modus, or 'particular case, meant simply to 
represent  it  incorrectly,  in  'an  incomplete  way', by a 'model', so to say, 
of  its  far from most perfected image (although the most perfected known 
to us). 

[64]   With  that  Spinoza  also  linked  his  profound  theory  of  truth  and 
error,  developed  in  detail  in the Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata 
(Ethics),    Tractatus de intellectus ernendatione,    Tractatus theologico- 
politicus, and in numerous letters. 

[65]    If the mode of action of the thinking body as a whole is determined 
in  the  form of an 'other', and not of the immanent structure of 'this' body, 
the  problem  arises,  how ever are we to recognise error?  The question 
was  posed  then  with  special  sharpness because it appeared in ethics 
and theology as the problem of 'sin' and 'evil'.   The criticism of Spinozism 
from the angle of theology was invariably directed at this point; Spinoza's 
teaching  took  all  the  sense  out  of the very distinguishing of 'good and 
evil',  'sin  and  righteousness,  'truth  and  error'.  In fact, in what then did 
they differ? 

                      L22, L23, L24, L25, L25A. }
[66]   Spinoza's  answer  again  was  simple,  like  any fundamentally true 
answer.  Error  (and  hence  'evil'  and  'sin')  was  not  a  characteristic of 
ideas  and  actions  as  regards  their  own  composition,  and  was  not a 
positive attribute of them.  The erring man also acted in strict accordance 
with  a  thing's  form,  but  the question was what the thing was.  If it were 
'trivial',  'imperfect' in itself, i.e. fortuitous, the mode of action adapted to it 
would  also  be imperfect.  And if a person transferred this mode of action 
to another thing, he would slip up. 
[67]   Error,  consequently,  only  began  when  a mode of action that was 
limitedly  true  was  given  universal  significance,  when  the  relative was 
taken  for  the  absolute.  It  is  understandable  why Spinoza put so low a 
value  on  acting  by  abstract, formal analogy, formal deduction based on 
an  abstract  universal.  What  was  fixed  in  the  abstract  'idea' was what 
most  often  struck  the  eye.  But it, of course, could be a quite accidental 
property  and  form  of  the  thing;  and  that  meant  that  the narrower the 
sphere  of  the  natural  whole  with which the person was concerned, the 
greater  was  the  measure  of  error and the smaller the measure of truth. 
For  that  very  reason  the activity of the thinking body was in direct pro- 
portion to the adequateness of its ideas.  The more passive the person, 
the  greater  was the power of the nearest, purely external circumstances 
over him, and the more his mode of action was determined by the chance 
form  of  things;  conversely,  the more actively he extended the sphere of 
nature  determining  his  activity, the more adequate were his ideas.  The 
complacent position of the philistine was therefore the greatest sin. 
[68]   Man's  thinking  could  achieve  'maximum  perfection'  (and  then  it 
would  be identical with thought as the attribute of substance) only in one 
case,  when  his actions conformed with all the conditions that the infinite 
aggregate  of  interacting  things,  and  of  their  forms  and combinations, 
imposed on them, i.e. if they were built in accordance with the absolutely 
universal  necessity of the natural whole and not simply with some one of 
its limited forms.  Real earthly man was, of course, still very, very far from 
that,  and  the  attribute of thought was therefore only realised in him in a 
very limited and 'imperfect' (finite) form; and it would be fallacious to build 
oneself  an idea of thinking as an attribute of substance in the image and 
likeness  of  finite  human  thought.  On  the  contrary  one's finite thought 
must  be built in the image and likeness of thought in general.  For finite 
thought  the philosophical, theoretical definition of thinking as an attribute 
of  substance  poses  some  sort  of  ideal  model,  to which man can and 
must  endlessly  approximate,  though  never  having  the  power  to bring 
himself up to it in level of 'perfection'. 
[69]   That is why the idea of substance and its all-embracing necessity 
functioned as the principle of the constant perfecting or improvement 
of  intellect.  As  such  it  had immense significance.  Every 'finite' thing 
was  correctly  understood  only  as  a  'fading moment' in the bosom of 
infinite  substance;  and  not  one  of  its  'partial forms',  however  often 
encountered, should be given universal significance. 
[70]   In  order  to  disclose  the  really  general,- truly  universal  forms  of 
things  in  accordance with which the 'perfected' thinking body should act, 
another  criterion and another mode of knowledge than formal abstraction 
was  required.  The  idea of substance was not formed by abstracting the 
attribute  that  belonged  equally  to extension and thought.  The abstract 
and  general in them was only that they existed, existence in general, i.e. 
an  absolutely empty determination in no way disclosing the nature of the 
one  or the other.  The really general (infinite, universal) relation between 
thought  and  spatial,  geometric reality could only be understood, i.e. the 
idea  of substance arrived at, through real understanding of their mode of 
interaction within nature. Spinoza's whole doctrine was just the disclosure 
of this 'infinite' relation. 
[71]   Substance  thus  proved  to  be  an  absolutely necessary condition, 
without  assuming  which  it was impossible in principle to understand the 
mode  of  the  interaction  between the thinking body and the world within 
which  it  operated  as  a  thinking  body.    This is a profoundly dialectical 
point.  Only  by  proceeding from the idea of substance could the thinking 
body   understand  both  itself  and  the  reality  with  and  within  which  it 
operated  and  about  which  it  thought; any other way it could not under- 
stand  side  power,  to  a theologically interpreted 'God, to a miracle.  But, 
having   once   understood  the  mode  of  its  actions   (i.e.  thought),  the 
thinking   body   just   so   comprehended   substance  as  the  absolutely 
necessary condition of interaction with the external world. 
[72]    Spinoza   called  the  mode  of  knowledge  or  cognition  described 
here  'intuitive'.  In  creating  an adequate idea  of  itself, i.e. of the form of 
its  own  movement  along  the  contours  of  external objects, the thinking 
body  thus  also  created  an  adequate idea  of the forms and contours of 
the  objects  themselves.  Because  it  was one and the same form, one 
and  the  same  contour In   this  understanding  of  the  intuitive  there 
was  nothing  resembling  subjective  introspection.   Rather  the  contrary. 
On   Spinoza's   lips   intuitive   knowledge   was   a  synonym  of  rational 
understanding  by  the  thinking  body of the laws of its own actions within 
nature.  In  giving  itself  a  rational  account  of what and how it did in fact 
operate,  the  thinking  body  at  the  same  time  formed a true idea of the 
object of its activity. 
[73]   From  that  followed  the  consistent  materialist  conclusion that 'the 
true  definition  of  any  one thing neither involves nor expresses anything 
except  the  nature  of  the  thing  defined'. [Ethics]  That is why there can 
only  be  one  correct  definition (idea) in contrast and in opposition to the 
plurality  and  variety  of  the individual bodies of the same nature.  These 
bodies  are as real as the unity (identity) of their 'nature' expressed by the 
definition  in  the  'attribute of thought' and by real diversity in the 'attribute  
of  extension'.  Variety  and  plurality   are   clearly  understood  here  as 
                                                                                    { subjective        versus}          { ?? }
modes  of  realisation  of their own opposition i.e. of the ^ identity and
the objective }     See Endnote 73.
 unity of their 'nature'.   That is a distinctly dialectical understanding of
the  relation  between  them,  in  contrast  to  the  feeble  eclectic  formula
(often  fobbed  off  dialectics)  that  'both unity and plurality',  'both identity 
and  difference- equally  really exist.  Because  eclectic  pseudodialectics, 
when   it   comes   down   to  solving  the  problem  of  knowledge  and  of 
'definition'   or   'determination',   arrives   safely   at   exactly  the  contrary 
(compared  with  Spinoza's  solution),  at  the  idea that 'the definition of a 
concept'  is  a  verbally  fixed  form  of expression in consciousness, in the 
idea of a real, sensuously given variety. 
[74]    Talk  of  the  objective  identity,  existing  outside  the  head,  of the 
nature  of  a given range of various and opposing single phenomena thus 
safely  boils  down  to  talk  about  the  purely  formal  unity  (i.e. similarity, 
purely  external  identity)  of  sensuously  contemplated,  empirically given 
things,  of  isolated  facts, formally subsumed under 'concept'.  And it then 
generally  becomes  impossible  to  consider the 'definition of the concept' 
as  the  determination  of  the  nature of the defined thing.  The starting 
point  then  proves  to  be  not  the  'identity  and  unity' of the phenomena 
but  in  fact  the  'variety  and  plurality'  of isolated facts allegedly existing            { ?? }
originally  quite  'independently'  of  one  another,  and  later  only formally
united,  tied  together  as  it  were  with string, by the 'unity of the concept' 
and  the 'identity of the name'.  So the sole result proves to be the identity 
in  consciousness  (or rather in name)  of the initially heterogeneous facts, 
and their purely verbal 'unity'.   See Endnote 73—Organic. 

[75]   Hence   it   is   not   difficult  to  understand  why  Neopositivists  are 
dissatisfied  with  Spinoza  and  attack  the logical principle of his thinking. 
'Spinoza's  metaphysic  is  the  best  example of what may be called "logic 
monism"  the  doctrine,  namely,  that  the  world  as  a  whole  is  a  single 
substance,  none  of  whose  parts  are  logically capable of existing alone. 
The  ultimate  basis  for this view is the belief that every proposition has a 
single  subject  and  a  single  predicate, which leads us to the conclusion 
that relations and plurality must be illusory.' 

[76]   The  alternative  to  Spinoza's  view,  in  fact,  is  the affirmation that 
any  'part'  of  the  world  is not only 'capable' of 'existing' independently of 
all  other  parts,  but  must  do so. As another authority of this trend postu- 
lated  it,  'the  world  is the totality of facts not of things', by virtue of which 
'the  world  divides  into  facts',  and so 'any one can either be the case or 
not be the case, and everything else remain the same'. [Wittgenstein]  
[77]   Thus,  according  to  the  'metaphysic of Neopositivism', the external 
world  must  be  considered  some  kind  of  immeasurable accumulation, 
a  simple  conglomeration,  of  'atomic facts'  absolutely  independent  of 
each  other,  the  'proper determination'  of  each  of  which is bound to be 
absolutely   independent   of   the  determination  of  any  other  fact.  The 
determination  (definition,  description)  remains  'correct'  even  given  the 
condition   that   there   are   no  other  facts  in  general.  In  other  words, 
'a   scientific   consideration   of   the  world'  consists  in  a  purely  formal, 
verbal  uniting  of  a  handful  of  odd  facts by subsuming them under one 
and  the  same  term,  under  one  and  the  same 'general'.  The 'general', 
interpreted  only  as  the  'meaning of the term or sign', always turns out to 
be  something  quite  arbitrary  or  'previously  agreed  upon',  i.e. 'conven- 
tional'.    The   'general'   (unity  and  identity) - as  the  sole  result  of  the 
'scientific  logical'  treatment  of  the  'atomic facts', is consequently not the 
result  at  all,  but  a previously established, conventional meaning of the 
term, and nothing more. 

[78]   Spinoza's  position,  of course, had no connection with this principle 
of  'logical analysis' of the phenomena given in contemplation and imagin- 
ation.  For him the 'general', 'identical', 'united' were by no means illusions 
created  only by our speech (language), by its subject-predicate structure 
(as Russell put it),  but  primarily the real, general nature things.  And that 
nature must find its verbal expression in a correct definition of the concept. 
It  is  not  true,  moreover,  that  'relations and plurality must be illusory' for 
Spinoza,  as  Russell  said.  That  is not at all like Spinoza, and the affirm- 
ation  of it is on Russell's conscience, that he should have stooped so low 
to  discredit  the  'concept of substance' in the eyes of 'modern science' as 
'incompatible with modern logic and with scientific method'. 
[79]   One  thing,  however,  is  beyond  doubt  here:  what  Russell called 
'modern  logic  and  scientific  method' really is incompatible with the logic 
of  Spinoza's  thinking,  with his principles of the development of scientific 
definitions,  with  his  understanding  of  'correct definitions'.   For Spinoza 
'relations  and  plurality'  were  not  'illusory'  (as  Russell  described them) 
and  'identity  and  unity'  were  not illusions created solely by the 'subject- 
predicate  structure'  (as Russell himself thought).   Both  the  one and the 
other  were  wholly  real, and both existed in 'God', i.e. in the very nature 
of  things,  quite  irrespective  of  whatever  the  verbal  structures  of the 
so-called 'language of science' were. 

[80]   But  for  Bertrand Russell,  both  the one and the other were equally 
illusions.  'Identity'  (i.e.  the  principle  of substance, of the general nature 
of  things),   was   an   illusion  created  by  language  and  'relations  and 
plurality'  were  illusions  created by our own sensuality.  But what, in fact, 
is  independent  of  our  illusions?  I do not know and I don't want to know; 
I  don't  want  to  know  because  I cannot, Russell answered.  I know only 
what  is  the  'world' given to me in my sensations and perceptions (where 
it  is  something  'plural')   and   in   my  language  (where  it  is  something 
'identical'  and  related).   But what is there besides this 'world'?  God only 
knows,  answered  Russell,  word  for  word  repeating  Bishop Berkeley's 
thesis, though not risking to affirm categorically after him that 'God' in fact 
'knew' it, because it was still not known if God himself existed.  

[81]   There  we  have  the  polar  contrast of the positions of Spinoza and 
of   Berkeley   and   Hume  (whom  the  Neopositivists  are  now  trying  to 
galvanise  back  to  life).  Berkeley  and  Hume also primarily attacked the 
whole  concept  of  substance,  trying  to  explain  it  as  the  product of an 
'impious mind'.  Because  there  is  a  really unpersuasive alternative here, 
namely  two  polar  and  mutually exclusive solutions of one and the same 
problem   the   problem  of  the  relation  of  'the  world  in  consciousness' 
(in  particular  in  'correct definition')  to  the  'world outside consciousness' 
(outside  'verbal  definition').   For  here  a  choice  must  be  made:  either 
nature,  including  man  as part of it, must be understood through the logic 
of  the  'concept of substance',  or  it  must  be interpreted as a complex of 
one's sensations. 

[82]   But  let us return to consideration of Spinoza's conception.  Spinoza 
well  understood  all  the  sceptical  arguments  against  the  possibility of 
finding  a  single  one  correct definition of the thing that we are justified in 
taking as a definition of the nature of the thing itself and not of the specific 
state and arrangement of the organs within ourselves, in the form of which 
this thing is represented 'within us'. In considering different variants of the 
interpretation of one and the same thing, Spinoza drew the following direct 
conclusion: 'All these things sufficiently show that every one judges things 
by  the  constitution  of  his  brain,  or  rather  accepts the affections of his 
imagination  in  the  place  of things.' In other words, we have within us, in 
the  form  of  ideas,  not  the  thing  itself  and its proper form, but only the 
inner state that the effect of the external things evoked in our body (in the 
corpus of the brain). 

[83]   Therefore,  in  the  ideas we directly have of the external world, two 
quite  dissimilar  things  are  muddled  and  mixed up: the form of our own 
body and the form of the bodies outside it. The naive person immediately 
and  uncritically  takes  this  hybrid  for  an  external  thing,  and therefore 
judges things in conformity with the specific state evoked in his brain and 
sense  organs  by  an  external  effect  in  no  way  resembling  that  state. 
Spinoza  gave  full  consideration to the Cartesians' argument (later taken 
up   by   Bishop   Berkeley),   that  toothache  was  not  at  all  identical  in 
geometric  form  to  a dentist's  drill  and even to the geometric form of the 
changes the drill produced in the tooth and the brain.   The brain of every 
person,  moreover,  was built and tuned differently, from which we get the 
sceptical conclusion of the plurality of truths and of the absence of a truth 
one  and  the  same  for all thinking beings.  'For every one has heard the 
expressions:  So  many  heads, so many ways of thinking; Each is wise in 
his  own  manner;  Differences  of brains are not less common than differ- 
ences  of  taste;  all  which  maxims  show  that  men decide upon matters 
according  to  the  constitution  of  their  brains,  and  imagine  rather than 
understand things.'  { Cash Value—be aware that you are part of an organism. } 
[84]   The  point  is  this  to  understand and correctly determine the thing 
itself, its proper form, and not the means by which it is represented inside 
ourselves,  i.e.  in  the form of geometric changes in the body of our brain 
and its microstructures.  But how is that to be done?  Perhaps, in order to 
obtain  the  pure  form of the thing, it is simply necessary to 'subtract' from 
the  idea  all its elements that introduce the arrangement (disposition) and 
means  of  action  of  our own body, of its sense organs and brain into the 
pure form of the thing: 
[85]   But  (1)  we  know  as little of how our brain is constructed and what 
exactly  it  introduces  into  the  composition  of  the  idea of a thing as we 
know  of  the  external  body  itself; and (2) the thing in general cannot be 
given to us in any other way than through the specific changes that it has 
evoked  in  our body.  If we 'subtract' everything received from the thing in 
the  course  of  its refraction through the prism of our body, sense organs, 
and  brain,  we  get  pure  nothing.  'Within us'  there  remains nothing, no 
idea of any kind.  So it is impossible to proceed that way. 
[86]   However  differently  from  any other thing man's body and brain are 
built  they all have something in common with one another, and it is to the 
finding  of  this  something  common  that  the  activity  of reason is in fact 
directed, i.e. the real activity of our body that we call 'thinking'. 

[87]   In other words an adequate idea {is} only the conscious state of our 
body  identical  in  form with the thing, outside the body.  This can be 
represented  quite  clearly.  When  I  describe  a  circle with my hand on a 
piece  of  paper  (in real space),  my  body,  according  to Spinoza, comes 
into  a  state  fully  identical  with  the  form  of  the circle outside my body, 
into  a  state  of  real  action  in  the  form of a circle.  My body (my hand) 
really  describes  a circle, and the awareness of this state (i.e. of the form 
of  my  own  action  in  the  form  of  the  thing)  is  also the idea, which is, 
moreover, 'adequate'. 
[88]   And  since  'the  human  body needs for its preservation many other 
bodies  by  which  it  is,  as  it were, continually regenerated', and since it 
'can  move  and arrange external bodies in many ways', it is in the activity 
of  the  human  body  in  the shape of another external body that Spinoza 
saw  the  key to the solution of the whole problem.  Therefore 'the human 
mind   is  adapted  to  the  perception  of  many  things,  and  its  aptitude 
increases  in  proportion  to  the number of ways in which its body can be 
disposed.'  In  other  words,  the  more numerous and varied the means it 
has  'to  move  and  arrange  external bodies', the more it has 'in common' 
with  other  bodies.  Thus  the  body,  knowing  how  to  be  in  a  state of 
movement  along  the contours of circle, in that way knows how to be in a 
state  in  common with the state and arrangement of all circles or external 
bodies moving in a circle. 

[89]   In  possessing  consciousness  of  my  own state (actions along the 
shape  of  some  contour  or  other),  I  thus  also  possess  a  quite exact 
awareness  (adequate idea)  of  the  shape  of  the  external  body.  That, 
however, only happens where and when I actively determine myself, and 
the  states  of  my  body,  i.e. its actions, in accordance with the shape of 
the  external  body,  and  not in conformity with the structure and arrange- 
ment  of  my  own  body  and its 'parts'.  The more of these actions I know 
how  to  perform,  the more perfect is my thinking, and the more adequate 
are  the  ideas  included  in the 'mind' (as Spinoza continued to express it, 
using   the  language  normal  to  his  contemporaries),   or  simply  in  the 
conscious  states  of  my  body,  as  he  interpreted  the  term 'mind' on 
neighbouring pages. 
[90]   Descartes'  dualism  between  the  world of external objects and the 
inner  states  of  the  human  body thus disappeared right at the very start 
of  the  explanation.  It  is interpreted  as  a  difference  within one and the 
same  world  (the world of bodies),  as  a difference in their mode of exist- 
ence  ('action').  The  'specific structure'  of  the  human  body  and  brain; 
is  here,  for  the  first time, interpreted not as a barrier separating us from 
the world of things, which are not at all like that body,  but on the contrary 
as   the  same  property  of  universality  that  enables  the  thinking  body 
(in contrast to all others)  to  be  in  the very same states as things, and to 
possess forms in common with them. 

[91]   Spinoza  himself  expressed  it  thus:  'There  will exist in the human 
mind an adequate idea of that which is common and proper to the human 
body,  and  to  any external bodies by which the human body is generally 
affected  of  that  which  is  equally  in  the  part  of each of these external 
bodies and in the whole is common and proper.' 

[92]   'Hence  it  follows that the more things the body has in common with        2P38
other bodies, the more things will the mind be adapted to perceive.' 
[93]   Hence,  also  it  follows  that  'some ideas or notions exist which are 
common to all men, for ... . all bodies agree in some things, which ... must 
be  adequately,  that  is  to  say,  clearly and distinctly,  perceived  by  all.'  
In  no  case  can these 'common ideas' be interpreted as specific forms of 
the  human body, and they are only taken for the forms of external bodies 
by  mistake  (as  happened  with  the Cartesians and later with Berkeley), 
despite  the  fact  that  'the  human  mind  perceives  no  external body as 
actually existing, unless through the ideas of the affections of its body'. 

[94]   The  fact  is  that  the  'affections  of  one's body' are quite objective, 
being  the  actions  of  the body in the world of bodies, and not the results 
of  the  action  of  bodies on something unlike them, 'in corporeal'.  There- 
fore,  'he  who  possesses a body fit for many things possesses a mind of 
which the greater part is external'. 
[95]   From  all  that  it  follows  that  'the  more  we  understand individual
See Endnote 73—Organic.
objects,  the  more  we understand G-D,' i.e. the general universal nature
of   things,   world   substance;   the   more  individual  things  our  activity
embraces  and  the  deeper and more comprehensively we determine our 
body  to  act  along  the shape of the external bodies themselves, and the 
more  we become an active component in the endless chain of the causal 
relations  of  the  natural  whole,  the  greater  is  the  extent  to  which the 
power  of  our  thinking  is  increased, and the less there is of the 'specific 
constitution'  of  our  body  and  brain  mixed  into  the 'ideas' making them 
'vague and inadequate'  (ideas  of  the  imagination  and  not  of 'intellect'). 
The  more  active  our  body  is,  the  more  universal it is, the less it intro- 
duces  'from itself',  and  the  more  purely  it  discloses  the real nature of 
things.  And the more passive it is, the more the constitution and arrange- 
ment  of  the  organs  within it (brain, nervous system, sense organs, etc.) 
affect ideas. 

[96]   Therefore  the  real  composition  of  psychic  activity  (including the 
logical  component  of  thought)   is  not  in  the  least  determined  by  the 
structure  and  arrangement  of  the  parts  of  the  human body and brain, 
but  by  the  external  conditions of universally human activity in the world 
of other bodies. 

[97]   This functional determination gives an exact orientation to structural 
analysis of the brain, fixes the general goal, and gives a criterion by which 
we  can  distinguish  the  structures  through  which  thinking is carried on 
within  the  brain  from  those that are completely unrelated to the process 
of  thought, but govern, say, digestion, circulation of the blood, and so on. 

[98]   That  is  why  Spinoza  reacted  very  ironically  to  all  contempor- 
aneous  'morphological'  hypotheses,  and  in  particular  to  that  of  the 
special  role  of  the  'pineal gland'  as  primarily  the organ  of the 'mind'.       Pineal Gland
On  this  he  said  straight  out: since you are philosophers, do not build 
speculative  hypotheses  about  the  structure  of  the  body of the brain,
but  leave  investigation  of  what  goes  on  inside  the  thinking body to
doctors,  anatomists, and physiologists.  You,  as philosophers, not only 
can,   but   are  bound  to,  work  out  for  doctors  and  anatomists  and 
physiologists   the   functional   determination   of  thinking  and  not  its 
structural  determination,  and  you must do it strictly and precisely, and 
not resort to vague ideas about an 'incorporeal mind', { transcendent } 'God', 
and so on.                                                                See Endnote 73—Organic. 

[99]   But  you  can find the functional determination of thought only if you 
do  not  probe into the thinking body (the brain), but carefully examine the 
real  composition  of  its objective activities among the other bodies of the 
infinitely  varied  universum  Within  the  skull  you will not find anything to 
which a functional definition of thought could be applied, because thinking 
is a function of external, objective activity.  And you must therefore invest- 
igate  not  the  anatomy  and physiology of the brain but the 'anatomy and 
physiology'  of  the  'body' whose active function in fact is thought, i.e. the 
'inorganic  body  of  man', the 'anatomy and physiology' of the world of his 
culture,  the  world  of the 'things' that he produces and reproduces by his 

[100]   The  sole  'body'  that thinks from the necessity built into its special 
'nature'  (i.e.  into  its  specific structure) is not the individual brain at all, 
and  not  even  the  whole man with a brain, heart, and hands, and all the 
anatomical  features  peculiar to him.   Of necessity, according to Spinoza, 
only  substance  possesses  thought.  Thinking is necessary premise and 
indispensable condition (sine qua non) in all nature as a whole.  
an indispensable or essential condition}
[101]   But  that,  Marx  affirmed,  is not enough.  According  to  him,  only 
nature  of  necessity  thinks,  nature  that  has achieved the stage of man 
socially  producing  his  own  life,  nature  changing  and knowing itself in 
the  person  of  man  or  of  some  other  creature  like him in this respect, 
universally  altering  nature, both that outside him and his own.  A body of 
smaller scale and less 'structural complexity' will not think.  Labour {work} 
                                                             { by enlightened self-interest }
is the  process  of  changing nature by the action of social man, and is the 
'subject'  to  which  thought belongs as 'predicate'.  But nature, the univer- 
sal  matter  of nature,  is  also  its substance.  Substance, having become 
the subject of all its changes in man, the cause of itself (causa sui). 


Einstein's Reply to Criticisms
from The Library of Living Philosophers Series (1949)


Garth Kemerling's Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names.
Thoemmes Press -
Biographical and Bibliographical Database.  
All brief biographical notes given below are from Encyclopædia Britannica 2002 CD; 
copyrighted © 1994-2002 Encyclopædia  Britannica, Inc. 

 Berkeley, Bishop George, 1685 -1753; Kemerling, WikipediA,
Anglo-Irish Anglican bishop, philosopher, and scientist, best known for his Empiricist philosophy {the philosophic doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sense experience},  which holds that everything save the spiritual exists only insofar as it is perceived by the senses.
Berkeley from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Bohr, Niels Henrik David, 1885 -1962; Kemerling, WikipediA,  
Danish physicist who was the first to apply the quantum theory, which restricts the energy of a system to certain discrete values, to the problem of atomic and molecular structure. For this work he received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922. He developed the so-called Bohr theory of the atom and liquid model of the atomic nucleus
Bohr from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

Carnap, Rudolf, 1891 -1970; Kemerling, WikipediA,   German-born U.S. philosopher of Logical Positivism. He made important contributions to logic, the analysis of language, the theory of probability, and the philosophy of science. 
Carnap from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

Cartesians+1; WikipediA,  
the philosophical and scientific traditions derived from the writings of the French philosopher René Descartes

 Descartes, René, 1596 -1650; Bk.XX:18819Kemerling, WikipediA,  
Latin Renatius Cartesius French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher. Because he was one of the first to oppose scholastic Aristotelianism, he has been called the father of modern philosophy. He began by methodically doubting knowledge based on authority, the senses, and reason, then found certainty in the intuition that, when he is thinking, he exists; this he expressed in the famous statement “I think, therefore I am.” He developed a dualistic system in which he distinguished radically between mind, the essence of which is thinking, and matter, the essence of which is extension in three dimensions. Descartes's metaphysical system is intuitionist, derived by reason from innate ideas, but his physics and physiology, based on sensory knowledge, are mechanistic and empiricist.
Descartes from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 DiderotDenis 1713 -1784; [61]; Kemerling, WikipediA,   
French man of letters and philosopher who, from 1745 to 1772, served as chief editor
of the Encyclopédie, one of the principal works of the Age of Enlightenment.
Diderot from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 EinsteinAlbert1879 -1955, + 1, [36]; Kemerling, WikipediA,
German-American physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity,
the equivalence of mass and energy, and the photon theory of light.
Einstein from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Engels, Friedrich, 1820 -1895; Def.IIa, Kemerling, WikipediA, Robinson4:121
German Socialist philosopher, the closest collaborator of Karl Marx in the foundation of modern Communism. They co-authored the Communist Manifesto (1848), and Engels edited the second and third volumes of Das Kapital after Marx's death.
Engels from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb1762 -1814; Kemerling, WikipediA,   
German philosopher and patriot, one of the great transcendental idealists.
Fichte from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

French Encyclopaedists, (1751-80); WikipediA,  
French Encyclopaedists from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Galileo Galilei, 1564 -1642; Kemerling, WikipediA,  
Italian mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, considered a founder of the experimental method. 
Galileo from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

Geulincx, Arnold, 1624 -1669; [26], Kemerling, WikipediA,   
Flemish metaphysician, logician, and leading exponent of a philosophical doctrine known as occasionalism based on the work of René Descartes, as extended to include a comprehensive ethical theory.
Geulincx from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1749 -1832;, WikipediA,     
German poet, novelist, playwright, and natural philosopher, the greatest figure of the German Romantic period and of German literature as a whole.
Goethe from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Haeckel, Ernst Heinrich 1834 -1919; [57]; WikipediA,  
German zoologist and evolutionist who was a strong proponent of Darwinism and who proposed new notions of the evolutionary descent of man. Totemism.
Haekel from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 HegelHegelianism + 1+2+3Kemerling, Bk.XIB:230, WikipediA, Robinson4:121  
German philosopher who developed a dialectical scheme that emphasized the progress of history and of ideas from thesis to antithesis and thence to a synthesis.
Hegel from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Herder, Johann Gottfried von 1744 -1803; WikipediA,    
German critic, theologian, and philosopher, who was the leading figure of the Sturm und Drang literary movement and an innovator in the philosophy of history and culture. His influence, augmented by his contacts with the young J.W. von Goethe, made him a harbinger of the Romantic movement. He was ennobled (with the addition of von) in 1802.
Herder from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Hume, David, 1711-1776; Kemerling, WikipediA,  
Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his
philosophical empiricism and skepticism.
Hume from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

ILyenkov, Evald Vasilyevich, (1924 - 1979); Title of this Page, WikipediA, 

 La MettrieJulien Offroy de,1700 -1751; Kemerling, WikipediA,  
French physician and philosopher whose Materialistic interpretation of psychic phenomena laid the groundwork for future developments of behaviourism and played an important part in the history of modern Materialism.
La Mettrie from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Lassalle, Ferdinand, 1825 -1864; WikipediA, 
Lassalle was born of Jewish parents; his father, Heymann Lasal, or Loslauer,
was a wholesale silk merchant and town councilor.
Lassalle from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 1646 -1716; Kemerling, WikipediA, 
Leibniz from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Lenin, Vladimir llich, 1870 -1924; Kemerling, WikipediA, 
Lenin from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Malebranche, Nicolas de 1638-1715; [26], Kemerling, WikipediA,   
French Roman Catholic priest, theologian, and major philosopher of Cartesianism, the school of philosophy arising from the work of René Descartes. His philosophy sought to synthesize Cartesianism with the thought of St. Augustine and with Neoplatonism.
Malebranche from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Marx, Karl Heinrich, 1818 -1883;  Def.IIa, Kemerling, WikipediA, Robinson4:121.    
Revolutionary, sociologist, historian, and economist. He published (with Friedrich Engels) Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848), commonly known as The Communist Manifesto, the most celebrated pamphlet in the history of the socialist movement. He also was the author of the movement's most important book, Das Kapital. These writings and others by Marx and Engels form the basis of the body of thought and belief known as Marxism.
Marx from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Mill, John Stuart 1806 -1873; Kemerling, WikipediA,    
English philosopher, economist, and exponent of Utilitarianism. He was prominent as a publicist in the reforming age of the 19th century, and remains of lasting interest as a logician and an ethical theorist.
Mill from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 NewtonSir Isaac, 1642 -1727; Kemerling, WikipediA,  
English physicist and mathematician who invented the infinitesimal calculus, laid the foundations of modern physical optics, and formulated three laws of motion that became basic principles of modern physics and led to his theory of universal gravitation. He is regarded as one of the greatest scientists of all time.
Newton from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Pavlov, Ivan Petrovich, 1849 -1936; WikipediA,     
Russian physiologist known chiefly for his development of the concept of the conditioned reflex. In a now-classic experiment, he trained a hungry dog to salivate at the sound of a bell, which was previously associated with the sight of food. He developed a similar conceptual approach, emphasizing the importance of conditioning, in his pioneering studies relating human behaviour to the nervous system. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for his work on digestive secretions.
Pavlov from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Plekhanov, Georgy Valentinovich, 1857-1918; WikipediA,   
Marxist theorist, the founder and for many years the leading exponent of the Marxist movement in Russia. A Menshevik, he opposed the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in 1917 and died in exile.
Plekhanov from Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 

 Russell, Bertrand Arthur William 1872 -1970; Kemerling, WikipediA,   
English logician and philosopher, best known for his work in mathematical logic and for his social and political campaigns, including his advocacy of both pacifism and nuclear disarmament. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.
Russell from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von, 1775 -1854; Kemerling, WikipediA,    
German philosopher and educator, a major figure of German idealism, in the post-Kantian development in German philosophy. He was ennobled (with the addition of von) in 1806.
Schelling from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

 Sechenov, I.M., 19th-century Russian physiologist;  
Sechenov from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

 Spinoza, Benedict de 1632 -1677, Hebrew prename Baruch; Kemerling, WikipediA,    
Dutch-Jewish philosopher, the foremost exponent of 17th-century -.
Spinoza from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

 Veblen, Thorstein Bunde, 1857 -1929; Kemerling, WikipediA,   
Austrian-born English philosopher, who was one of the most influential figures in British philosophy during the second quarter of the 20th century and who produced two original and influential systems of philosophical thought—his logical theories and later his philosophy of language.
Veblen from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

 Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johan, 1889 -1951; Kemerling, WikipediA,    
Austrian-born English philosopher, who was one of the most influential figures in British philosophy during the second quarter of the 20th century and who produced two original and influential systems of philosophical thought—his logical theories and later his philosophy of language.
Wittgenstein from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.


 From The Teaching Company's Tapes; The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition; 2004; Professor Daniel N. Robinson's Lecture 44; Part 4Transcript, p. 121; Marxism—Dead But Not Forgotten—Dialectical Materialism:  

 Endnote N8-Rand—From Introduction of Ayn Rand's
"The Virtue of Selfishness",
 ISBN: 0451163931, Page vii.  WikipediABritannica  

The title of this book may evoke the kind of question that I hear once in a 
while: "Why do you use the word 'selfishness' to denote virtuous qualities    Damasio—biological
of  character,  when  that  word  antagonizes  so  many people to whom it     Hampshire:180[1a]
does not mean the things you mean?"                                                  E4:Bk.III:251  

To those who ask it, my answer is: "For the reason that makes you afraid 
of it."  

But there are others, who would not ask that question, sensing the moral 
cowardice it implies, yet who are unable to formulate my actual reason or 
to  identify the profound moral issue involved.  It is to them that I will give 
a more explicit answer.  

It  is  not  a mere  semantic  issue  nor  a  matter of arbitrary choice.  The 
meaning  ascribed  in  popular  usage  to  the  word  "selfishness"  is  not 
merely  wrong:  it  represents  a  devastating  intellectual "package-deal,"
which  is  responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested
moral development of mankind.  

In  popular  usage, the word "selfishness" is a synonym of evil; the image 
it  conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to  
achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing 
but  the  gratification  of  the  mindless  whims  of any immediate moment.  

Yet  the  exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word "selfishness"        ST:29-3.
is: concern with one's own {true} interests.                                           True is what
                                                                                                                           perpetuates you.

 Endnote N8-Branden—From  Ayn Rand's "The Virtue of Selfishness",
 ISBN: 0451163931,  Page 70 by Nathanel Branden.  

A  genuine selfishness—that is: a genuine concern with discovering what         E4:Bk.III:251 
is to one's self-interest, an acceptance of the responsibility of achieving it,
a  refusal  ever  to betray it by acting on the blind whim, mood, impulse or
feeling  of  the  moment,  an  uncompromising  loyalty  to  one's judgment,
convictions   and   values—represents   a   profound  moral  achievement.
Those  who  assert that "everyone is selfish" commonly intend their state-
ment  as  an  expression  of  cynicism  and contempt.  But the truth is that
their statement pays mankind a compliment it does not deserve.
"Ethics" from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service—Selfishness.
[Accessed July 24, 2003].                                                                          Ayn Rand

The continental tradition: from Spinoza to Nietzsche 


If Hobbes is to be regarded as the first of a distinctively British philosophical tradition, the Dutch-Jewish philosopher Benedict Spinoza (1632–77) appropriately occupies the same position in continental Europe. Unlike Hobbes, Spinoza did not provoke a long-running philosophical debate. In fact, his philosophy was neglected for a century after his death and was in any case too much of a self-contained system to invite debate. Nevertheless, Spinoza held positions on crucial issues that were in sharp contrast to those taken by Hobbes, and these differences were to grow over the centuries during which British and continental European philosophy followed their own paths.  

The first of these contrasts with Hobbes is Spinoza's attitude toward natural desires. As has been noted, Hobbes took self-interested desire for pleasure as an unchangeable fact about human nature and proceeded to build a moral and political system to cope with it. Spinoza did just the opposite. He saw natural desires as a form of bondage. We do not choose to have them of our own will. Our will cannot be free if it is subject to forces outside itself. Thus our real interests lie not in satisfying these desires but in transforming them by the application of reason {enlightenment}. Spinoza thus stands in opposition not only to Hobbes but also to the position later to be taken by Hume, for Spinoza saw reason not as the slave of the passions but as their master.  

The second important contrast is that while individual humans and their separate interests are always assumed in Hobbes's philosophy, this separation is simply an illusion from Spinoza's viewpoint. Everything that exists is part of a single system, which is at the same time Nature and G-D. (One possible interpretation of this is that Spinoza was a pantheist, believing that G-D exists in every aspect of the world {cosmos} and not apart from it.) We, too, are part of this system and are subject to its rationally necessary laws. Once we know this, we understand how irrational it would be to desire that things should be different from the way they are. This means that it is irrational to envy, to hate, and to feel guilt, for these emotions presuppose the possibility of things being different. So we cease to feel such emotions and find peace, happiness, and even freedom—in Spinoza's terms the only freedom there can be—in understanding the {organic} system of which we are a part.  

A view of the world so different from our everyday conceptions as that of Spinoza's cannot be made to seem remotely plausible when presented in summary form. To many philosophers it remains implausible even when complete. Its value for ethics, however, lies not in its validity as a whole, but in the introduction into continental European philosophy of a few key ideas: that our everyday nature may not be our true nature; that we are part of a larger unity {G-D}; and that freedom is to be found in following reason.

Endnote N8—From  Lewis Samuel Feuer's  "Spinoza and the Rise of
   Liberalism",  ISBN: 0887387012,  Pages 240, 241. 

There  were  other causes, said Spinoza, which were contributing to the 
conception  of  a determinist world order and were tending to make men 
reflect  upon  these  universal  prejudices  and  leading  them  to  a  true 
knowledge of things."   Among them no doubt, was the fact that the new 
method  offered  the hope of guidance in forming a social order in which          Enlightened
human  liberty  and happiness would be achieved.  Determinism was, as          Self-interest
we  have  seen  a  guide  to  "the advantage of common society," "to the 
welfare  of  our social existence."  It was the basis on which a science of 
psychology  could  be constructed to alleviate men's anxieties; it provided 
the  foundation  for  social  science.   Social radicalism  { favoring drastic 
political, economic, or social reforms} had often had a propensity toward 
determinist social theory; Mill, Marx, Veblen, the French Encyclopaedists 
illustrate  this  tendency  and  Spinoza  too was drawn toward the causal 
analysis of human behavior.      Spinozistic analysis—Bk.III:235.  

The  idea  of  free will,  the pillar of conventional theology, was therefore 
abandoned  by  Spinoza.  It  was  a  fiction of the human mind, a popular 
fallacy:  "Their idea of liberty therefore is this—that  they  know no cause 
for  their  own  actions;  for  as  to  saying that their actions depend upon 
their  will,  these  are  words  to  which  no  idea  is  attached."  Again, he 
argues:  "men  believe  themselves  to be free  simply  because  they are           2P49
conscious  of their own actions, knowing nothing of the causes by which 
they  are  determined ...." { E1:Ap.(10),  E2:XXXV, E3:II. }.   Free  will  was  thus 
for   Spinoza   a   concept   scientifically   meaningless.   { E2:XLIX, E1:XXXII, 
E2:XLVIII, E2:XLVIII(2)n. }.  It  was  founded  on our ignorance as to underlying 
psychological  and  physical  causes,  on  our unconsciousness, in other 
words,  of  our  minds  and  bodies
.   Free will  was  an  inadequate idea,  
a  confused  one,  which  vanished  when  we understood all the causes 
of  human  behavior.   Free  will,  we  might  say,  was  the  projection  in 
metaphysics   of   men   whose   lives  were  slavish,  whose  lives  were 
moved by uncomprehended powers in their unconscious { prejudices }. 

Again,  however,  we cannot but wonder whether there was not a strong, 
unconscious   compulsion   in   Spinoza   himself  to  renounce  free  will. 
How much of this argument was once more a .... 

Socialism—From  John Kenneth Galbraith "Almost Everyone's Guide
   to Economics",  ISBN: 0395271177,  Page 28.                         

NiCOLE:  You  said  that the failure of modern socialism was performance.
Is that failure in relation to material achievement or in relation to the liberty
of the individual?  

JKG:  Both,  no doubt. The  failure  in  material performance was partly an 
accident  of history.  Perhaps it was the misfortune of socialism that it was 
first  tried  in Russia.  Managing Russians may be even more difficult than 
managing  Frenchmen.  Also,  in  1917,  Russia was still a country of poor      Technological
peasants   and   incompetent   landlords,   not   of   large,   well-organized, 
capitalist  enterprises.  The  other  great  socialist experiment has been in 
China. The Chinese are more gifted and experienced in organization than 
the  Russians,  but this is also a peasant land where, additionally, popula- 
tion  presses  heavily  on  resources.  That  kind of pressure means a low 
standard  of  living whether a country is socialist or nonsocialist.  So were 
one  picking  the  last countries in the world in which to produce a socialist 
success, China and Russia would be prominent candidates, just after India. 

Endnote 73—Organic.

The intent of these paragraphs (example, [73]) is to inculcate Spinoza's 
intuitionG-D  ( the  organic interdependence of parts )  so as to foster 
communism.   See  Def. I,  Note 8,  and  Endnote N8. 


Since June 17, 1999  Essay2 hits.

Revised: August 30, 2006
"A Dedication to Spinoza's Insights"