Adonis Diaries

“Be happy; smash superstitions”: Spinoza (1632-77), part 3

Posted on: February 16, 2011

“Happiness is the passage from a lesser perfection to a higher perfection level (in knowing your individual nature, your potentials, power, and what gives you joy…)”  Experiencing these kinds of happiness is the correct criteria for a successful life.

The good rule of living is to increase the quality of your happiness and reducing periods of sadness and depression.  We have got to get rid of superstitions that consider sadness and melancholy as good in life.

Thus, we need to differentiate among the partial and faked joys and our natural feeling of joys.  For example, “glad to be unhappy” might be a catalyst to discovering what “glad to be fully happy” feels like.

“Depressive states, not only reduce our power to act but it also prevent us to comprehend and learn what subjugate our vital natural rights.”  Hilarious joys excite all the parts of our body and are excellent stimulants.

Excessive sensual excitations, including sport activities, induce more fatigue than reinforcement to states of happiness.  Melancholy is the black beast that squeezes our power; it prevents us to starting any sort of preparation for an activity or “conatus” disposition as coined by Spinoza.

Sadness does not emanate from our inner-self:  It expresses what is contrary to our nature.  The wise man savours pleasures:  The greater the joy that affects us the higher is our perfection.  The wise man indulges moderately in everything that retain his power intact to act for happiness:  He is kicking constantly for greater levels of happiness.

A passion ceases to be a negative quality once we form a clear and distinct idea of what it is and how it affect us.  The feeling of joy is an indication of progress toward comprehending our natural constitution; and the more the better.

The cry of joy of Spinoza is a war chant against all kinds of superstitions meant to tight us in knots and rob us from our liberty to act and improve our power for survival.

Most important question is “what are the factors that subjugate our spirit and body?”

What we desire are NOT what we lack or imagine that we are lacking to satisfying our life fulfilment: Our desires are the effects of our efforts that led to what we are and who we are; our desires are never the cause for our feeling of missing anything.  For example, when we desire a home it is because we feel the need for more comfort and security to go ahead with our drive to perfecting our happiness and contentment.

When desires are imitations of what other people claim to desire then, we are not acquiring what our personal nature requires and wants:  Our spirit is subjugated by external factors that we have failed to control their affects.  We didn’t invest the necessary effort to “knowing ourselves”.

We are in essence constantly in a state of preparing to undertake an action or planning an activity in order to preserving our life and increasing the capital of survival as long as possible. Our essence is to developing our power for conserving our potentials to live and searching for what is useful to our body and mental development capacities.

What is essential to us is what our desires produce in reality to develop our nature.  We learn whatever is necessary to our natural conservation.  Thus, life is defined as a qualitative perception of what we feel as joy and sadness and we interact with our community according to our level of natural development.

Knowing yourself can be reduced to the essential knowledge: “What external factors (in nature, society, institutions…) are altering and influencing our real natural desires for self-preservation and development?”

You neglect the well-being of your body and your spirit is negatively affected. You neglect exercising your cognitive and emotional capabilities and your body is negatively affected. A general body fatigue is the interaction of afflictions of the body and mind; a depressed mood is the interaction of adverse influences on the body and mind.

Our natural personality is created by the combined efforts we exert on our body and mind.  The environment and society are external factors that constantly interact with our essence to live and form who we are.  Inequality in aptitudes among individuals are closely related to our constant efforts to interacting with the environment, people, and the changes in perceptions that we form of our potentials, of nature, and of the universe.

Man is an integral part of nature:  First, man has nothing exceptional to placing him above nature and he is devoid of any free-will independent of his natural living essence.  Second, man is in constant trade with his biological and social environments (cultural and natural).  Third, man shares in the  infinite power that characterizes nature and thus, man is endowed with sizable amount of power.

Free men do not need rewards, stimulants, or marble statues to obeying laws coinciding with individual’s vital natural  rights for happiness and opportunities to live in dignity.  Joy, sadness, and desires are the three main affects that drive all the other feelings and passions.  Nature is the same everywhere and it follows the same process regardless of what and how man want to change in it.

The wise man comprehends the universal rules and laws of nature and follows their virtues.  The power of an individual is limited and is superseded by external forces.  We don’t have an absolute will to adapt to what is beyond our power to act upon.  

Our intelligence, the best part of ourself, will be fully satisfied and contented as it keeps within nature’s restrictions for drastic changes.  We cannot over indulge in eating or drinking without suffering their consequences.  Whatever we do within our power we can support equally well and our conscious is at peace because we acted within the range of our possibilities and nature’s limitations on u”s.

“There are two founding principles:  Refusing tyranny and refuting superstitions. It is impossible for an individual to abandon his natural rights.  In order for a citizen to obey laws he must retain the legitimacy of keeping his power intact to resisting tyranny and defending his vital natural rights.”

“A happy individual has the right to fighting all kinds of superstitions.  Only an envious person takes pleasure of my impotence and my sufferings.  There are no Gods or persons who consider tears of sufferings, crying of pains and humiliation, fears of everything in society and nature are virtues to hang on.  The greater is the joy, the greater the perfection of our passions.  This is my rule and my resolution: I will eat and drink in moderation of whatever pleases me.  I will partake in cultural activities that I like.  I will participate in games that I love to do and that do not harm others.”

Context of the period: Bento was born in current Netherlands (Holland), lived and died there.  Holland had acquired its independence: It kicked the Spanish army, thwarted a British navy landing, and forced a French expeditionary army during Louis XIV to retreat.  At the age of 24, Bento was ex-communicated by the Sephardi Jews who had immigrated from Portugal to Amsterdam: He believed that God is a philosophical concept; when the body dies so does the spirit.   He had to live far from Amsterdam and earn a living, polishing lenses for microscopes, telescopes and corrective glasses.  Holland was the wealthiest nation in Europe and enjoyed the largest merchant navy.

Spinoza was the contemporary of the scientists Descartes, Thomas Hobbes,Isaac Newton, Galileo, Leibniz, Huygens… and the famous painters in Holland such as Vermeer, Velasquez, Van Ruysdael, Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Emmanuel de Witte, Frans Hals, Jan Wynants, Judith Leyster, Georg Flegel, Peter de Hooch, Van Ostade, Albert Cuyp, Lambert Doomer…

Spinoza only published book while alive was “”principles of Descartes Philosophy, 1663”.  All his other works were published posthumous such as “Ethics” and “Theologico-Political Treaties”… He spoke Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, some French, Latin, and Hebrew.  He was annoyed that he could not read in English the manuscripts of Boyle on colors and Robert Hooke’s “Micrographia” on microscope observations.

Note:  I suggest that you select a program that gives you joy; work on habits that diminish your performance in the program.  If a program is too demanding on your natural constitution then, quit and keep on the lookout for another program that gives you joy and increase your happiness and power to conquer superstitions that subjugate your freedom and liberty for improvement.  All that you need is to maintain an adequate performance, physically and mentally, that sustain your happiness.  Never work against your natural constitution.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2011
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