131 Divine Nature
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The Philosophy Of Freedom
Conscious Human Action
1-3 Freedom To Act From Own Nature
Others, too, start from the same point of view in combating the concept of free will. The germs of all the relevant arguments are to be found as early as Spinoza. All that he brought forward in clear and simple language against the idea of freedom has since been repeated times without number, but as a rule enveloped in the most hair-splitting theoretical doctrines, so that it is difficult to recognize the straightforward train of thought which is all that matters. Spinoza writes in a letter of October or November, 1674,
“I call a thing free which exists and acts from the pure necessity of its nature, and I call that unfree, of which the being and action are precisely and fixedly determined by something else. Thus, for example, God, though necessary, is free because he exists only through the necessity of his own nature. Similarly, God cognizes himself and all else freely, because it follows solely from the necessity of his nature that he cognizes all. You see, therefore, that for me freedom consists not in free decision, but in free necessity.."
|A. Necessity of Divine Nature.|
By Bernhard Mollenhauer
Benedict Baruch Spinoza, though a mystic, a profoundly religious soul, was a typical thinker of this scientific age. The modern mind began with its declaration of intellectual independence, its faith in reason.
He realized that to abandon faith in reason and natural law was to muddle back into the Middle Ages. He went forward with the conviction that God's world was an eminently reasonable world that expressed divine thought through immutable laws. He believed that scientific thought, if rightly understood and followed far enough, would point to a comprehensive world view, to a level of philosophical thought from where man could understand life.
To see nature scientifically is to rise above the illusions of sense and understand things in terms of order, law, cause and effect.
Everything in nature is grounded in and comprehended by divine Thought. God has written his all-pervading character in the changeless laws of matter as well as in the laws of mind. Nothing is the creature of chance or blind caprice. All things are rationally linked together and related to the ultimate Cause. Our world is a world of law which makes no exceptions and grants no favors, an orderly cosmos in which nothing lives by chance.
Everything is to be understood either as the result of its own nature or some higher nature. Now if this be so, Spinoza claims, there must be, beyond the relativity of every finite point of view, one supreme existence that explains and comprehends all the rest. The God idea of Spinoza is more easy for us to grasp because three centuries of science have trained us to see the togetherness of things, the relativity and interdependence of all forms of life and activity.
|"He who rightly knows that all things follow from the necessity of the divine nature, and happen according to the eternal laws and rules of Nature, will surely find nothing worthy of hate, mockery, or disdain. . . . Instead he will strive, as far as human virtue allows, to act well, as they say, and rejoice."|
|B. Freedom is understanding the Laws of our Nature.|
By Bruce W. Hauptli
Another example of Spinoza’s demand for clarity and of his unyielding commitment to uniformity is his view regarding freedom. To allow for freedom of the will would be to violate his commitment to a fundamental and inviolable uniformity and to the idea that the universe is strictly intelligible. His commitment to deductivism engenders a commitment to determinism. Spinoza defines freedom as follows:
“that thing is called free...which exists solely from the necessity of its own nature, and is determined to action by itself alone. A thing is said to be necessary...or rather constrained...if it is determined by another thing to exist and to act in a definite and determinate way.”
Properly understood, this means that his deity is free since it acts solely by the necessity of its nature. Human beings, of course, are not free.
“You see I do not place freedom in free decision, but in free necessity.”
For Spinoza, "human bondage” arises when we are moved by causes without being aware of, or understanding, these causes. Freedom arises when we become aware of the causes of our actions. Here, the changes are no longer seen as coming from without, but are instead seen as coming from within us--they arise as a result of the laws of our nature. According to MacIntyre,
“it is crucial for Spinoza that rational understanding is not merely a means to something else. It is at once means and end. The goals which understanding reveals are the goals of freedom and rationality; and these are one and the same. This freedom, which consists in knowing the causes which move one, and thus making the causes internal and not external to the agent, is of course not only compatible with but also requires complete determinism. Belief in free decision is among the illusions, the confused ideas, which the free man has discarded.”
Of course, to speak of individuals being "free" seems oxymoronic in the context of Spinoza's philosophic system! Here, of course (as is always the case with Spinoza), we need to be clear as to how he defines `freedom'. Remembering that everything which happens occurs of necessity, and that adequate knowledge involves knowledge of the logical (and necessary) connections between and amongst the things which happen, we can see that as we approach the "intuitive" level of understanding we approach the "intellectual love of the deity" wherein distinctions between subject and object disappear and wherein talk of external compulsion makes no sense.
|Spinoza believed that love of the deity which is essential for happiness comes only with rational knowledge of the deity: |
“The mind's highest good is the knowledge of God, and the mind's highest virtue is to know God.”
“as the love of God is man's highest happiness and blessedness, and the ultimate end and aim of all human actions, it follows that he alone lives by the Divine law who loves God not from fear of punishment, or from love of any other object, such as sensual pleasure, fame, or the like; but solely because he has knowledge of God, or is convinced that the knowledge and love of God is the highest good.”
|C. Einstein’s Divine Reason.|
By Paul Harrison
Einstein always said that he was a deeply religious man, and his religion informed his science. He rejected the conventional image of God as a personal being, concerned about our individual lives, judging us when we die, intervening in the laws he himself had created to cause miracles, answer prayers and so on. Einstein did not believe in a soul separate from the body, nor in an afterlife of any kind.
But he was certainly a pantheist.
He did regard the ordered cosmos with the same kind of feeling that believers have for their God. To some extent this was a simple awe at the impenetrable mystery of sheer being. Einstein also had an urge to lose individuality and to experience the universe as a whole.
But he was also struck by the radiant beauty, the harmony, the structure of the universe as it was accessible to reason and science. In describing these factors he sometimes uses the word God, and sometimes refers to a divine reason, spirit or intelligence.
It seems likely that he believed in a God who was identical to the universe - similar to the God of Spinoza. A God whose rational nature was expressed in the universe, or a God who was identified with the universe and its laws taken together. His own scientific search for the laws of this universe was a deeply religious quest.
|D. Remembrance of Archetypal Forms of the world.|
By John Zuern
Anemnesis or "recollection" is the process that allows human beings to remember the vision of the Forms their souls glimpsed while traveling through the ideal realm during metempsychosis. We are attracted to beauty, for example, because the beauty of phenomena reminds us of the pure beauty of those Forms. Anemnesis is a central component in Plato's epistemology.
Forms are the eternal, perfect archetypes of all phenomena in the physical world. Only these Forms are truly real, and only knowledge of the Forms is true knowledge. The Forms transcend phenomena and can be grasped only by the intellect--in some translations of Plato's texts, the Forms are called "the Ideas". Plato's philosophy is idealist because it gives primacy to these non-physical, transcendent, "ideal" Forms.
Plato's epistemology maintains that knowledge of the Forms is available to human beings to a limited extent through the process of anamnesis, a "recollection" of the vision of the Forms the soul once glimpsed on its circuit through heaven during metempsychosis.
Metempsychosis is a theory of the soul derived from the teachings of Pythagoras, who may have based his ideas on the Indian concept of reincarnation. In metempsychosis, the soul is immortal and passes through cycles of incarnation in birth and release from the body at death. The behavior of the individual during a particular life can determine the form the soul take in the next life. In the Phaedrus, Plato develops this theory of the immortal soul, arguing that after the death of body the soul passes through the realm of the Ideas, which is why it is possible for us to possess particular kinds of knowledge, such as the consciousness of virtue and perfection, through the process of anamnesis or "recollection."
|E. Hidden possibilities of our Divine Nature.|
By Raghavan Iyer
"Since, then, the soul is immortal and has been born many times, since it has seen all things both in this world and in the other, there is nothing it has not learnt. No wonder, then, that it is able to recall to mind goodness and other things, for it knew them beforehand. For, as all reality is akin and the soul has learnt all things, there is nothing to prevent a man who has recalled – or, as people say, learnt' – only one thing from discovering all the rest for himself, if he will pursue the search with unwearying resolution. For on this showing all inquiry or learning is nothing but recollection."
As every incarnated being manifests a poor, pale caricature of himself – a small, self-limiting and inverted reflection of one's inner and divine nature – the ancient doctrine of anamnesis is vital to comprehend human nature and its hidden possibilities.
Given the fundamental truth that all human beings have lived many times, initiating diverse actions in intertwined chains of causation, it necessarily follows that everyone has the moral and material environment from birth to death which is needed for self-correction and self-education. But who is it that has this need? Not the shadowy self or false egoity which merely reacts to external stimuli. Rather, there is that eye of wisdom in every person which in deep sleep is fully awake and which has a translucent awareness of self-consciousness as pure primordial light.
|He believes souls return from the world of the dead and that "what we recollect now we must have learned at some time before," and that "learning is recollection" or recovery of knowledge formerly known but temporarily forgotten after birth. This recollection or anamnesis occurs when questions are asked in just the right way. For example, we have a built-in knowledge of absolute equality.|
By Michael McGoodwin
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