The Spinozist

writing by Paul Mendrik

Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many.

Baruch Spinoza

  • For Spinoza, only absolutely free men are bound to each other by a sincere and solid friendship. Freedom is the antithesis of ignorance, specifically, to the autocratic view of emotion; to the contrary, it is determined only through the act of reason, in consideration of candid judgment. It is a question of pursuing and doing what seems preeminent and quintessential, not just for oneself , but also for others (because what is valid for one also applies to the other), and not to exchange with others alleged benefits awarded by external criteria of false acclaim, which is only indulgence and seduction. 

    October 5, 2020

  • Mercy, in its literal sense, is the virtue of forgiveness - or rather, and better, it's truth. What is it to forgive? If we understand by this, as a certain tradition invites us to, the fact of erasing fault and to consider it null and void, it is a power that we do not have, or a foolishness that it is better to avoid. The past is irrevocable, and all truth is eternal: even God, remarked Descartes, cannot undo what has been done and that what has not yet been done. Neither can we, and no one should be held accountable for the impossible. 

    June 12, 2020

  • In an effort to "flatten the curve" of the contamination from the SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) pandemic, many countries are restricting the movement of their citizens. It is commonly accepted that this effort consists in sacrificing one's freedom for the common good. However, instead of considering these restrictions as measures that deprive us of our freedom, can we consider these restrictions as conditions required for its execution? This is the main issue covered by a Spinozist reading of the current crisis.

    June 1, 2020

  • As a young man I was taken to a concert of Mozart’s music. My tastes back then were of the popular kind, so I was surprised to find myself overcome with passion for his work; a passion that has lasted ever since.

    May 29, 2020

  • The novel The Plague (La Peste) by Albert Camus appeared in 1947. The author prepared the book during the years of the German occupation in France. The plague allows him to demonstrate the different possible reactions to the enemy's presence. To make a connection with the COVID-19 pandemic is only a small step.

    May 22, 2020

  • I am, morally, confronted with my very being: not my character, or my story, but what is deepest in me, which is the most singular. Morality puts me face to face with myself, in the fundamental solitude of the irreplaceable being that I am, and which I personally summon.

    May 15, 2020

  • Today ,we are witnessing a strange paradox. Whilst there is in the world, an aspiration for concrete happiness which can take a thousand forms, philosophy seems to be devoted to the formal studies of language and knowledge, unless, when wanting to be more concrete, it sometimes takes pleasure in describing what is called the tragic.

    May 8, 2020

  • In this paper, I would like to show that Spinoza is not (contrary to conventional wisdom) an apologist for religious tolerance, because he believes that the idea of ​​tolerance is part of an inaccurate interpretation of religion.

    May 5, 2020

  • It is in the pessimistic context of this century that, paradoxically, a philosopher manages to consider both the concrete desires of his contemporaries, and the philosophical questions of a man of reflection. Ernst Bloch, a German philosopher, exiled in the United States, returned home to the former German Democratic Republic and then became a refugee in the former West Germany. The originality of his thinking deserves our attention. A former Marxist, who rejected its dogmatism, Ernst Bloch turned his attention to the construction of the future. Contrary to the philosophies of history who, in the footsteps of Hegel, believe that an already accomplished past, will lead to a repetitive and predetermined future, Ernst Bloch strives to understand the future as the creative work of individuals and groups. This creative work is rooted in the structures of individual consciousness which designate a relation to a sovereign good, of which the ultimate aim is happiness. 

    May 1, 2020

  • Levinas is famous for the claim that ethics is first philosophy - by which he means not only that ethics must not be derived from metaphysics, not even an ‘ontic’ metaphysics ( i.e. an ‘anti-ontological’ ant-metaphysics) like Heidegger’s, but also that all-thinking about what it is to be a human being must begin with such ´ungrounded’ ethics.This doesn’t mean that Levinas wishes to deny the validity of, let us say, the ‘categorical imperative’. What he rejects is any formula of the form ‘Behave in such and such a way because’.

    April 3, 2020

  • 'We are all responsible for everyone else - but I am more responsible than all the others.' This remark, spoken by Alyosha Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov, is one  is fond of quoting. It is a neat indication of the nature of a thought that, in the words of Jacques Derrida, 'can make us tremble'.1 Its challenge is an excessive one: a mode of being and saying where I am endlessly obligated to the Other, a multiplicity in being which refuses totalisation and takes form instead as fraternity and discourse, an ethical relation which forever precedes and exceeds the egoism and tyranny of ontology.

    February 28, 2020

  • A number of subjects deserve to be treated distinctly according to the times. The articulation of happiness escapes this rule, in as much as happiness has been a permanent question for modern man since Greek Antiquity. Spinoza, who five centuries ago questioned the dependence of happiness on a religion or a transcendent relationship with God, decided that happiness is part of the very nature of human beings, something we must constantly explore.

    February 6, 2020

  • The metaphor of the second birth, does it risk obscuring the meaning of Spinozism? On the contrary, it seems that through it, Spinoza himself gives us a deeper meaning of the Ethics. Its path indicates the way to the attainment of true conversion and the genesis of a new life. That this is the purpose of all philosophy and wisdom, is undeniable, but the central question is how effective these wisdoms are when they refer to a subject that is outside the field of religion. Spinoza meets this requirement in an exemplary way. It applies to knowledge only and the effort to comprehend which every man is capable of, and addresses any human spirit, providing it truly wishes to free itself from beliefs and imaginary passions.

    January 24, 2020

  • Spinoza's Ethics does not fully deploy a doctrine of happy wisdom until after it has criticized ontological idealism and dualism. God is nothing more than infinite Nature considered under its multiple attributes, including thought and extension . It is in this immanent framework that the human mind can build its wisdom and bliss. Released from the prejudice that considers passion a sin or a vice, the free man can only see it as a subjugation. Not that of desire, but that of ignorance and imagination which deters desire from realisation. Spinoza's thinking is new and radical, desire is the essence of man, the foundation of virtue is the effort to persevere in being, that is, in existence. Desire, as a power of existence, increases or decreases by expressing itself as joy or sadness. Good is thus constituted by the positive movement of desire, joy is good, sadness is always bad.

    January 1, 2020