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Is Spinoza's World Infinite?

 
 
Dosed
 
Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2011 04:46 pm
I'm beginning a research project on Spinoza's metaphysical ontology. I'm still in the infant stages of developing my project, trying to find a research question. In the class (Modern Philosophy) we're currently reading Koyre's "From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe." In it, he discusses the rise of modern science and how we slowly moved into a mindset of infinite possibility.

For my project, I've chosen to focus on Spinoza because he's one figure I really don't know much about, but would like to learn more on. In searching for a question to guide my research, I'm fascinated by the relationship between an infinite ontological substance and finite beings. For Spinoza, who is somewhat of a pantheist, God and Nature constitute the same thing, and also exist as the only substance there is (he's a monist). Finite beings fit into this as "modes" of the substance. Of course it's all much more complicated than just this. Just giving a brief rundown of what I"m dealing with here.

Any way, for those of you who know Spinoza and feel that you could add to helping me settle on this for a research question, what do you think? Is it worth delving into? Does Spinoza's notion of one substance constitute an "infinite" world? And what does the notion of "infinite" mean for Spinoza? Does it encompass everything that it does for the Cartesian God? Or is it a mere approximation of the attributes of which can be applied to the one substance?

Thanks in advance for any input! <3
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Jan, 2011 05:25 pm
@Dosed,
Quote:
In propositions one through fifteen of Part One, Spinoza presents the basic elements of his picture of God. God is the infinite, necessarily existing (that is, uncaused), unique substance of the universe. There is only one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else that is, is in God.
Stanford Encyc. Phil.
cvaontology
 
  0  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 07:21 am
@fresco,
Hello, I am interested in Spinoza because his initial definitions align with mine on a logic for why God must exist. That is to say that God must be infinite in all ways in order for there to be something rather then nothing. However, I think that Spinoza in later development of his thoughts on this matter falls very short of this God he has defined. And then turns around and talks about a non personal god who can not and does not have a choice in who he is or what he will be or do. Very restricted, for a God who is infinitely all things. In my
mind, all things include, free will consciousness of his own, personality, love and so on. I believe that if Spinoza himself had never experienced a personal intervention with God (which I think is rare), he may have used that lack of information as a scientific proof, if you will, for defining God going forward. Also, in his time he may have not been able to develop his ideas in more detail with a degree of elegance, once he had disrupted the foundation of God in the monotheistic classic sense amongst his peers. Therefore, he pushed it to an extreme to make a point and diverted his first points. I am doing some writing on related subjects and I am interested in what you might have to share. Thanks-
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 07:49 am
@cvaontology,
cvaontology wrote:

...he may have used that lack of information as a scientific proof...


How precisely does this sort of thing work, logically speaking?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 08:47 am
@cvaontology,
Sorry, but as an atheist I cannot commune with an "existence of God" argument. However, I suggest some of your questions may have "answers" if you research contrasts between the views of Leibniz and Spinoza.
e.g.
http://philogb.github.io/notes/spinoza-leibniz-god/
cvaontology
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 09:12 am
@FBM,
Well, I think you are zooming in on the point about no information about God having a personal presence in all places at all times with a personality of his own? Something like this anyway. This is the question that I often come to myself. The missing piece in Spinoza's God puzzle, if you will. If we are talking about God as it were, I think we then can not call it science necessarily. That there is in fact the diversion. Logically speaking I think he is definitely on to something in his definition about why "something" has to be one infinite presents in all ways in order to have reason and power to exist over "nothing". I dont know how science or precision can be a part of this "logical" discussion. That is where the issue rests actually. Because there is no room for God in science with out proof. I do think however, that philosophically speaking there can be logic based in fact that Spinoza has come to the conclusion that God must exist. Then next logical part of this discussion is wether or not you first agree with his conclusion? And second wether or not you call yourself an ontologist? And third if you do agree on at least the first, wether one thinks that it makes sense to take infinite personality and Gods free will out of definition of his attributes? But still yet why use science when talking outside of our known observation if the discussion started on the God topic in the first place. Let me know any thoughts you have in this regard if you want.
0 Replies
 
cvaontology
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 09:37 am
@fresco,
fresco, thank you for the link. I must have misunderstood your post in the first place. I presumed that you brought up Spinoza because you agreed that god has a place and presence at least in the sense and terms that Spinoza put forth. And that you were fascinated with some of those dynamics. I apologize for stepping on any atheistic beliefs. That certainly is not my intension. I would however, like to say that I think "Ontology" and philosophy might be the place in between science and theology for these kinds of topics. Without it, I think we have limited ourselves in our understanding of why we are here in the first place. Having said that, I am not a "religious" person, but yet I am fascinated by the mystery of why we are here and where and how that truth my actually
make sense. I hate to bring up Einstein, but from what I have read, he was known to agree with Spinoza's version of god, and maybe thats he started there and worked forward in order to get such an equation in the first place. We will never know.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 10:29 am
@cvaontology,
"a logic for why God must exist."

There is NO logic for WHY a god MUST exist.

Matter makes up less than 3% of the universe. In other words matter does not matter. Matter is insignificant. We just assume it MUST be important because we are made of it. No, matter is just residue from an event.

Why must there be a god? The sum total energy has been determined to be zero. No energy was required in the formation of the universe. There is evidence that proves the sum zero energy. If no energy was required it means that nothing was required to kick it off. It would normally happen of itself without any aid or push.

It is easy to get caught up when you look around and see trees, the sky, rivers and lakes, birds and mountains and think these wonderful things had to of been created by something significant. But no, everything is made up of fundamental building blocks. Essentially everything is hydrogen atoms lumped together in different ways which result in different properties and how light refracts off of them. There is nothing special about it.

Without stars there would be NOTHING other than hydrogen. The stars force hydrogen atoms together to produce the other elements. Stars form because of gravity. Clouds of hydrogen condense due to gravity. When gas condenses it increases in temperature.

Without gravity there would be nothing. The universe would be uniformly distributed with hydrogen if there was no gravity. Stars wouldn't form. We wouldn't result.

So some attempt to claim that god had to exist because gravity is set just right. If gravity were stronger than it currently is, our universe would be nothing but black holes. And if gravity were less, then stars would never form. This isn't true at all and it over exaggerates the window range that gravity can fall into to produce the universe as we know it.

I see absolutely NOTHING that suggests that a god MUST exist. Please show me where this thing is that does.
cvaontology
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 11:39 am
@Krumple,
Krumple, I would suggest starting with reading some Spinoza, however it does not sound like you will get very far in comprehending anything about god. And surely, you are entitled to your own objectives and beliefs on that matter and any others. If you would like to talk on subjects and components concerning his argument, I would be happy to discuss it. Good luck!
0 Replies
 
cvaontology
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 12:54 pm
@Krumple,
Also you should look at the three laws of physics, however I consider this a separate subject to the earlier topic.
these are the three basic laws of thermodynamics
1. energy cannot be cerated nor destroyed ( conservation of energy)
2. In a closed system the entropy will always increase ( without continually suppied external energy a system containing a finite energy will reduce to disprderliness..the most degrees of freedom
3. A perfect crystal at absolute zero will have zero entropy
meaning with out vibrational modes and heat exchange the entropy of that perfect crystal will be zero
If you going to use the laws of physics as proof of the non existence of god then dont break them. Try first to understand them. And yes, isnt this quit a display for a living quarter? Ever ask why we are only the result of the second generation of star dust? Well we just happen to be here at this time. huh!
Plenty for us to play with as far as these building blocks go.
And dont forget that the Big Bang is still just a theory. In addition to that the theory breaks down and fails to work at the quantum level if you have not heard. Again this does not prove anything one way or the other. Its like putting ants in a jar and then the ants analyze their environment using only science in order to figure out why they are there. When actually they are there because you put them there. In this case, and I am not saying that it is the case with us (just a metaphor), but the ants being there has nothing to do with the physics or laws in the jar per say. Dont be that ant. Cheers!
cvaontology
 
  0  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 01:11 pm
@fresco,
fresco, you seem to be level headed. I read the suggested reading you supplied and it was a good quick read. I found it interesting. Thank you again.
Feel free to send any other related topics you come across my way if you like. I must comment that I can not agree with Leibniz or Spinoza on that subject entirely. Cheers!
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 01:14 pm
@cvaontology,
As far as I understand it as a bemused atheist, Spinoza's "God" and (possibly Einstein's) was an a priori postulate in so far that existence per se was predicated on existence of "a creator". It follows that no "evidence" is required to establish that ontological postulate. But as to "the nature" of such a creator, whether "benign" or "caring" or "non-interventionist" or "omnipotent" that is where parochial appeals to "evidence" might arise. So logically, if the God of Spinoza is defined as "non-interventionist", the burden of proof to the contrary rests on the dissenters.

Of course as an atheist, I see all "gods" as human constructions and the Christian god in particular as a construction in the image of a caring parent thereby satisfying particular psychological needs. The fact that Spinoza was not originally a Christian goes some way in accounting for his take on the matter.

Note also that Leibniz's theodicy (defense of a non-interventionist God) was largely a response to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 in which "the faithful" in the cathedral were decimated, and the lazy "sinners" at home were spared. I suspect Spinoza's thinking was a variation on that.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 01:33 pm
@cvaontology,
EDIT
Actually, I think Spinoza preceded Leibniz, but there certainly seems to be a linkage with respect to non-intervention, and they both died before the earthquake. I should have said that Leibniz theodicy was used by others to counter the atheistic movement following the earthquake.
0 Replies
 
cvaontology
 
  0  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 04:44 pm
@fresco,
I think its great that you have taken a look at the whole thing. I did take note of the "parent" desire idea put forth by Freud. Freud also predicted that all religion would go away, such as, the world is flat thing did. It did not happen. I am not sure that god knows any religion if he does exist anyway. A quote from Gandhi.
Spinoza's use of the term "nature" as a place holder for god is based on what one is able to observe, just furthers the question for some. And so I would ask, from what source was "nature" deemed to be all that was necessary to "govern" if you will, this universe? As if something gave balance in a perfect dose or measurement to govern as a hidden force that we cant find so far. And just enough "knowing" force, in order to have order on a fundamental level at just the right of center. So there could be ongoing life, consciousness, observation, evolution and continuation of some cycle. It seems to me, that as a possible dissenter, there is no burden. In fact I would return to the first argument where Spinoza defines God as an absolute infinite must, in order to exist. That is the part where he later abandons his own logic. His logic starts out by saying there is no need to keep passing the buck, once we understand the idea that one "everything" is what exists. Everything includes everything. Next question, why would we be here in a self sustaining universe. This is where I have to search. Separate topic for another time. I still admit that we may just be dust in the wind even if there is an all powerful one and so on. Who knows.
As far a Leibniz is concerned, I am not into the God that is defined in the classic sense or anthropomorphic type. However, I can see how one would need to understand it that way.
I will say to you what I have said before, we should look at the ant doing scientific experiments on the glass box he lives in. The ants are just living in the box because they were put there. That can not be understood my measurements and computer models. Those answers come from a further understanding then what is just in front of their eyes. I do not have that answer, however I think the door should not be closed when it comes to the ideas, conceptually speaking that, something might actually be "the everything" that we live in. We must understand as well that consciousness might come from other consciousness as energy can not be created from nothing and so on.
Thank you for your response and I hope to converse again.
0 Replies
 
cvaontology
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 10 Mar, 2015 05:25 pm
@Dosed,
Hi, I just thought you might check in and see some of the recent post regarding your initial blog. Also, wondering if you completed such a paper and how you would weigh in on things.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2015 01:12 am
@cvaontology,
NB He last posted on A2K in 2011.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2015 01:59 am
@cvaontology,
cvaontology wrote:

Also you should look at the three laws of physics, however I consider this a separate subject to the earlier topic.
these are the three basic laws of thermodynamics
1. energy cannot be cerated nor destroyed ( conservation of energy)
2. In a closed system the entropy will always increase ( without continually suppied external energy a system containing a finite energy will reduce to disprderliness..the most degrees of freedom
3. A perfect crystal at absolute zero will have zero entropy
meaning with out vibrational modes and heat exchange the entropy of that perfect crystal will be zero
If you going to use the laws of physics as proof of the non existence of god then dont break them. Try first to understand them. And yes, isnt this quit a display for a living quarter? Ever ask why we are only the result of the second generation of star dust? Well we just happen to be here at this time. huh!
Plenty for us to play with as far as these building blocks go.
And dont forget that the Big Bang is still just a theory. In addition to that the theory breaks down and fails to work at the quantum level if you have not heard. Again this does not prove anything one way or the other. Its like putting ants in a jar and then the ants analyze their environment using only science in order to figure out why they are there. When actually they are there because you put them there. In this case, and I am not saying that it is the case with us (just a metaphor), but the ants being there has nothing to do with the physics or laws in the jar per say. Dont be that ant. Cheers!


I find it funny that you are attempting to tell me about the laws of thermodynamics when you yourself don't even understand them.

It is true that within a closed system things reduce in complexity. However the formation of a star is not a closed system. The star forms through the gravitational influences of the gas and once this process begins it picks up in intensity. The underline energy being pumped into this system is gravity. When there is an ample supply of gas the lump will continue to increase in mass and size. At a fixed point the lump of gas will reach a critical point where it's internal heat and pressure will begin the process of fusion. Once fusion begins photons are emitted and the lump of gas begins to shine.

Gravity is the driving force behind the creation, functioning and death of all stars. It is NOT a closed system. This is why elements become more complex because energy is being pumped into them.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2015 02:57 am
@cvaontology,
cvaontology wrote:

...If you going to use the laws of physics as proof of the non existence of god ...


Who's doing that?
0 Replies
 
cvaontology
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2015 05:57 am
@Krumple,
I find it funny that you still look at the box you live in as proof for or against. Your an ant with a magnifying glass. Also, you better go back to school and re-examine your sources. You sound very confused. In the mean time if you are going to talk about gravity, get a handle on it. Understand that gravity is actually the weakest of the four known forces, and at the quantum level it is practically non existent. Go back to school brother. I can recommend a few good sources for you if you would like. Its ok, I was just starting out at some point too.
0 Replies
 
cvaontology
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 11 Mar, 2015 06:22 am
@Krumple,
Krumple, I suggest that if you are going to be the "God" police, for instance, go around the forums looking for people talking about god, just so you can jump in and defend your atheistic reality you have created in your own mind. Then at least remember, you should also be open to the fact that you appear to be very insecure in nature about your own stance. If you work in a community where it is only popular to be a self proclaimed atheist, such as science or biology ect.. or you are a student somewhere, you should allow others to have formal discussions about topics. There is no "need" for people who jump in off topic, which you have done, you still have not mentioned a thing about Spinoza And your user name and logo need some work. The arrow on your logo is pointing the wrong way. Are you proud of that? Don't be so destructive and maybe you would have a clue, who God is. Maybe you should go poke around on the science blogs and stay away from philosophy. Please try to stay on topic if you are going to respond. Thank you
 

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