Spinoza’s twee soorten actie

Donderdagmiddag 3 maart 2016 zal tijdens de jaarverg. Van de centrale divisie van The American Philosophical Association in Chicago, Matthew J. Kisner (University of South Carolina) spreken over: “Spinoza’s Activities”

Daar ik er de thematiek van zijn bijzondere boek, Spinoza on Human Freedom. Reason, Autonomy and the Good Life, in herken [cf. blog], waarin hij stelling neemt tegen dominante (therapeutische) interpretaties van de Ethica, breng ik ‘t op zich al informatieve abstract van zijn paper hier graag onder de aandacht.

“Spinoza’s Activities”

Spinoza's philosophy revolves around a basic set of concepts that he regards as denoting some kind of activity: striving, power, virtue, freedom, perfection, among others. According to a standard view, these kinds of activity are equivalent or, at least, coextensive. Steven Nadler writes, "a number of terms in Spinoza are co-extensive and refer to the same ideal human condition. We can set up the following equation for Spinoza: virtue = knowledge = activity = freedom = power = perfection." In contrast, this paper's thesis is that Spinoza employs two basic notions of activity: striving and being an adequate cause. While these notions are related, they are not equivalent or cocoextensive because a thing can strive without being an adequate cause—in other words, the sole cause—of an effect. The paper also examines two consequences of this thesis. Firstly, attending to this distinction shows that Spinoza understands the activity of virtue, perfection and human freedom as striving, rather than being an adequate cause. It follows that these ethical goals do not require being a sole cause and, thus, do not require being causally independent and self-sufficient, contrary to a common reading. Secondly, attending to the distinction broadens our understanding of Spinoza's conception of activity. In light of Spinoza's definition of 'act' (3D2), scholars sometimes treat Spinozistic activity as equivalent to being an adequate cause and, thus, to being causally independent. Recognizing striving as a kind of activity shows that things can be active while also being causally dependent, since Spinoza holds that things strive when they are passively affected. Thus, activity and passivity, for Spinoza, are not mutually exclusive. Both of these consequences highlight that Spinoza's ethics leaves an important positive role for human dependence, passivity and cooperation in the activity of a good life.

Commentator: Michael LeBuffe (University of Otago) [Van hier - cf. ook PDF programma]