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How did Spinoza consider good and evil?

Spinoza sought to consider human actions and desires objectively, almost like mathematical questions. Virtuous actions result from understanding and are either self-preserving or altruistic, but the two are united: "Nothing is more useful to man than man." He defined good as "what we certainly know to be useful to us," and evil as "what we certainly know prevents us from being masters of some good." Because God is perfect, He has no needs from which it follows that nothing is good or evil to Him. God's blessing is not a reward for virtuous behavior, but an inevitable result of living according to reason or having "adequate knowledge." Spinoza also held that citizens of a state cannot give up their right to attain their own well being.

How did Spinoza's system solve Cartesianism?

Descartes' division between mind and body depended on the existence of two separate substances: mind and material body, in addition to God. For Spinoza, there was but one substance, which was also God. That is, the human mind and the human body are the same exact thing, but are understood in different ways. We do not think of one thing as interacting causally with itself. So Cartesianism could not even get started as a problem in Spinoza's system.

What was Spinoza's legacy?

Spinoza has acquired an almost saintly aura over the centuries. In 1672 he wanted to participate in a protest against the brutal mob assassination of the Dutch statesman and mathematician, Johan De Witt, and his brother, Cornelis. There was great physical risk in such participation, but the only thing that stopped Spinoza was that a friend locked him up. The nineteenth century Romantic writer Novalis called Spinoza "the God-intoxicated man." The twentieth century philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) called Spinoza "the most lovable and noble of all philosophers."

Spinoza is believed to have influenced the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and the scientist Albert Einstein, as well as authors such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Heinrich Heine, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Eliot, George Sand, and Jorge Luis Borges. Late-twentieth century naturalists, as well as those who advocate a mind-body identity, have embraced his work. His cognitive account of the emotions as expressing beliefs has grounded branches of contemporary psychology, as well as philosophy of mind.

The contemporary playwright David Ives' New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27,1656 dramatizes both the persecution of Spinoza and the concern of Jewish leaders that Spinoza's radical thought would disrupt the fragile acceptance of the Jewish community in Amsterdam. At one point in the play, the Spinoza character quips, "There is no Jewish dogma, only bickering."

After Spinoza was excommunicated from his Jewish community, he could receive neither patronage nor any other employment. He therefore made his living by grind-

What is the Lens Crafter's Society?

While the members of the American Philosophical Association (APA) in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have been, for the most part, employed as academic philosophers, not everyone with a Ph.D. in philosophy is able to find work as a professor, and some of them do not have other jobs, either. The APA has tried to accommodate these unemployed philosophers at its annual meetings, and it sponsors an organization for them that is called "The Lens Crafter's Society," in honor of Spinoza, who polished lenses for a living.

ing and polishing lenses. The dust from the glass is believed to have fatally injured his lungs and been responsible for his early death.

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