söndag 13 september 2009

Spinoza and Contingency

Excellent thinking, Dino!!!
I'm grateful that you take the time to help us look at the "Zoroastrian thinkers" of the European tradition.
I would add that Spinoza stipulates an ethical IMPERATIVE. Joy is not a product of what we do or even of us doing the right thing, but rather joy is an ORDER. We should always seek joy in what we do. In this, Spinoza is totally in line with Zarathushtra. Zarathushtra's imperative is to LOVE THE WORLD FOR WHATEVER IT IS. This is identical with the ethics of Spinoza and also with the concept of "amor fati" with Nietzsche.
The important thing with Spinoza is that he removed the concept of "will" from its central place in our belief about our selves and replaced will with "drive" which later both Nietzsche and Freud could develop further towards our understanding of who we are today. Drive is the will of the body rather than the will as in the will of consciousness. Sure there is a will too, but the will is a product of drive mixed with contingency. That's how I would put the words.

2009/9/13 Special Kain

- Dölj citerad text -

The next question would be: how deterministic was Spinoza?
According to him, we can't make conscious decisions. All decisions have been made unconsciously, without involving our current state of mind based on past experiences. There are only effects, since we're ignorant of any causes.
One's will is not unconditioned, but self-control being applied in the present and learning experiences projected into the future enable us to make conscious decisions and actively create new possibilities. Linear time being objectified and disconnected from the string of current events enables us to make plans. There are constraints, yet there's contingency in the sense that we could have chosen differently. Anthony Giddens' structuration theory could be useful here (as a vocabulary grasping the interplay between determining and influencing factors and one's conscious decisions based on self-control).
Rorty's liberal ironism is all about accepting the fact that our vocabularies aren't final at all. There will always be something new and unanticipated around the next corner.. Spinoza's proto-determinism is all about accepting fate as it is and being affected and moved by positive feelings and thoughts, throwing ourselves into experiences and encounters that increase our happiness and help us realize, no matter how frosty and nasty the reactions will be. There's no unconditioned will, but there seems to be a call for unconditional optimism (but that's too simplistic).
Accepting contingency probably means to throw ourselves into new experiences consciously and joyfully, living without regrets, searching to increase our understanding in order to refine the enjoyment of life - always being aware that any decision could have been totally wrong (according to new environments taking shape). It's probably a fight against contingency, since we're struggling to create an environment that's most stimulating and affecting.
So, these are first steps (in English), I'm not supposed to answer the question once and for all (this question is resting on centuries). Any feedback, suggestions, corrections?

Ushta, Dino

--- Alexander Bard schrieb am So, 13.9.2009:

Von: Alexander Bard
Betreff: [Ushta] Contingency and Spinozism
An: Ushta@yahoogroups.com
Datum: Sonntag, 13. September 2009, 9:47

Excellent issue!!!

Before we dig deeper into this discussion, this is how Wikipedia defines contingency according to Richard Rorty:

1) The contingency of language

Here, Rorty argues that all language is contingent. Because only descriptions of the world can be true or false, and descriptions are made by humans, humans must make truth or falsity, as opposed to truth or falsity being determined by any innate property of the world being described. Green grass is not true or false, but "the grass is green" is. For example, I can say that 'the grass is green' and you could agree with that statement (making it true), but our use of the words to describe grass is independent of the grass itself. Without the human proposition, truth or falsity is simply irrelevant. Rorty consequently argues that all discussion of language in relation to reality should be abandoned, and that one should instead discuss vocabularies in relation to other vocabularies.

He states that he will not exactly be making "arguments" in this book, because arguments, as communication mostly within one vocabulary, preclude novelty.

2) The contingency of selfhood

Rorty proposes that each of us has a set of beliefs whose contingency we more or less ignore, which he dubs our "final vocabulary." One of the ironist's greatest fears, according to Rorty, is that he will discover that he has been operating within someone else's final vocabulary all along; that he has not "self-created." It is his goal, therefore, to recontextualize the past that led to his historically contingent self, so that the past that defines him will be created by him, rather than creating him.

3) The contingency of a liberal community

Rorty begins this chapter by addressing critics who accuse him of irrationality and moral relativism. He asserts that accusations of irrationality are merely affirmations of vernacular "otherness." We use the term "irrational" when we come across a vocabulary that cannot be synthesized with our own, as when a father calls his son irrational for being scared of the dark, or when a son calls his father irrational for not checking under the bed for monsters. The vocabulary of "real monsters" is not shared between father and son, and so accusations of irrationality fly. As for moral relativism, for Rorty, this accusation can only be considered a criticism if one believes in a metaphysically salient and salutary moral, which Rorty firmly does not.

Rorty then discusses his liberal utopia. He gives no argument for liberalism, and believes that there have been and will be many ironists who are not liberal, but he does propose that we as members of a democratic society are becoming more and more liberal. In his utopia, people would never discuss restrictive metaphysical generalities such as "good", "moral", or "human nature", but would be allowed to communicate freely with each other on entirely subjective terms.

Rorty sees most cruelty as stemming from metaphysical questions like, "what is it to be human?", because questions such as these allow us to rationalize that some people are to be considered less than human, thus justifying cruelty to those people. In other words, we can only call someone "less than human" if we have a metaphysical "yardstick" with which to measure their prototypical human-ness. If we deprive ourselves of this yardstick (by depriving ourselves of metaphysics altogether), we have no means with which to dehumanize anyone.

So where does that leave us? What is dear Dino's own opinion???



2009/9/12 Special Kain

Dear friends,

How would Spinozists deal with the issue of contingency?
Parviz, Alexander, anyone?

Ushta, Dino

--- Special Kain schrieb am Fr, 4.9.2009:

Von: Special Kain
Betreff: [Ushta] Divine justice and contingency #2
An: Ushta@yahoogroups. com
Datum: Freitag, 4. September 2009, 9:53

Dear friends,

I do seriously believe that this is an important issue that we have to discuss in detail: contingency and suffering.
First of all, there's no martyrdom in Zoroastrianism. Western converts have grown up in societies that are still influenced by Christianity' s obsession with suffering and pain, somehow. We've been tricked into believing that suffering and creativity were inextricably linked with each other. He is a true artist who is prone to suffering and melancholy.. But we only have to look at the kids to see what's true: they're terribly excited and easily affected by their surroundings, and they're creativity machines!
It's the Nietzschean question: How do we (as Zoroastrians) desire to cope with suffering and contingency, since meaningless suffering is worse than mere suffering? Are we supposed to give meaning to suffering or rather overcome the whole concept? The latter, I guess.
Any feedback, comments, ideas?

Ushta, Dino

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