Since my friend N, argentinisimo, showed me Spinoza’s text: ‘On the Improvement of the Understanding‘, a text that circulated unfinished before 1662(?) and was finally published in its final version after Spinoza’s death in 1677.
Spinoza’s text is powerful if one is searching for purpose, personal evaluation, and life changes. He starts by discussing the ordinary objects of men’s desires:
For the ordinary
surroundings of life which are esteemed by men (as their actions
testify) to be the highest good, may be classed under the three
heads—Riches, Fame, and the Pleasures of Sense: with these three the
mind is so absorbed that it has little power to reflect on any different
He then defends a minimalist and humble life in his ‘rules of life’, which are probably unattainable in the current capitalist world, but which idealism makes sense as a reference with its place in time.
Maybe one of the most up-to-date claims of Spinoza is the idea that we should understand what is real or not. This is also a difficult task when everything is made to seduce us into consumption, passiveness at a certain level or in certain spaces, etc. Any form of isolation or obsession is indeed the creation of another reality which exists to make your world more comfy. But it is not real. Discerning one thing from another requires a continuous mind inquietude.
I shall confine
myself to what concerns method—that is, to the character of fictitious,
false and doubtful perceptions, and the means of freeing ourselves
I like to say that the laws of physics help me defining my ideas and that I sometimes I catch myself trying to live as an experiment, which requires method, hypotheses, evaluation, discussion. After all, I think I’m nuts but Spinoza goes even deeper into this:
We need, therefore, be in no fear of forming hypotheses,
so long as we have a clear and distinct perception of what is involved.
For, if we were to assert, haply, that men are suddenly turned into
beasts, the statement would be extremely general, so general that there
would be no conception, that is, no idea or connection of subject and
predicate, in our mind.
I hope you find yourself curious about this text and that one day we get the chance to discuss it.