Baruch Spinoza citations

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Baruch Spinoza

Date de naissance: 24. novembre 1632
Date de décès: 21. février 1677
Autres noms:Baruch de Spinoza

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Baruch Spinoza, également connu sous les noms de Baruch d'Espinoza d'après sa signature, Bento de Espinosa ou Benedictus de Spinoza, né le 24 novembre 1632 à Amsterdam et mort le 21 février 1677 à La Haye, est un philosophe néerlandais d'origine ibérique dont la pensée eut une influence considérable sur ses contemporains et nombre de penseurs postérieurs.

Issu d'une famille juive marrane portugaise ayant fui l'Inquisition, Spinoza fut un héritier critique du cartésianisme. Il prit ses distances vis-à-vis de toute pratique religieuse, mais non envers la réflexion théologique, grâce à ses nombreux contacts interreligieux. Après sa mort, le spinozisme connut une influence durable et fut largement mis en débat. L'œuvre de Spinoza entretient en effet une relation critique avec les positions traditionnelles des religions révélées que constituent le judaïsme, le christianisme et l'islam.

Si sa doctrine repose sur une définition de Dieu, suivie d'une démonstration de son existence et de son unicité et propose une religion rationnelle, Spinoza fut à tort couramment compris comme un auteur athée et irréligieux. En effet, ses conceptions théologiques qui relèvent du panthéisme, mais aussi sa conception historiciste de la rédaction de la Bible, tendent à s'opposer aux dogmes religieux de la transcendance divine et d'une révélation surnaturelle.

Gilles Deleuze le surnommait le « Prince des philosophes », tandis que Nietzsche le qualifiait de « précurseur », notamment en raison de son refus de la téléologie. D'après Hegel, « Spinoza est un point crucial dans la philosophie moderne. L'alternative est : Spinoza ou pas de philosophie. »

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Citations Baruch Spinoza

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„Mais il est des gens qui croient que la fiction est limitée par la fiction, et non par l'intelligence; c'est-à-dire qu'après avoir feint une chose, et avoir affirmé, par un acte libre de la volonté, l'existence de cette chose, déterminée d'une certaine manière dans la nature, il ne nous est plus possible de la concevoir autrement. Par exemple, après avoir feint (pour parler leur langage) que la nature du corps est telle ou telle, il ne m'est plus permis de feindre une mouche infinie; après avoir feint l'essence de l'âme, il ne m'est plus permis d'en faire un carré, etc.
Cela a besoin d'être examiné. D'abord, ou bien ils nient, ou bien ils accordent que nous pouvons comprendre quelque chose. L'accordent-ils; ce qu'ils disent de la fiction, ils devront nécessairement le dire aussi de l'intelligence. Le nient-ils; voyons donc, nous qui savons que nous savons quelque chose, ce qu'ils disent. Or, voici ce qu'ils disent : l'âme est capable de sentir et de percevoir de plusieurs manières, non pas elle-même, non pas les choses qui existent, mais seulement les choses qui ne sont ni en elle-même ni ailleurs : en un mot, l'âme, par sa seule vertu, peut créer des sensations, des idées, sans rapport avec les choses, à ce point qu'ils la considèrent presque comme un dieu. Ils disent donc que notre âme possède une telle liberté qu'elle a le pouvoir et de nous contraindre et de se contraindre elle-même et de contraindre jusqu'à sa liberté elle-même. En effet, lorsque l'âme a feint quelque chose et qu'elle a donné son assentiment à cette fiction, il ne lui est plus possible de se représenter ou de feindre la même chose d'une manière différente; et en outre, elle se trouve condamnée à se représenter toutes choses de façon qu'elles soient en accord avec la fiction primitive. C'est ainsi que nos adversaires se trouvent obligés par leur propre fiction d'accepter toutes les absurdités qu'on vient d'énumérer, et que nous ne prendrons pas la peine de combattre par des démonstrations.“

— Baruch Spinoza
On the Improvement of the Understanding

„Then, as now, the philosopher seemed a living oxymoron: he was an ascetic sensualist, a spiritual materialist, a sociable hermit, a secular saint.“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: According to the seventeenth-century way of thinking, an atheist was by definition a decadent. If there was no God (or, at least, no providential, rewarding-and-punishing God of the sort worshipped in all the traditional religions), the reasoning went, then everything is permitted. So a non-beliver would be expected to indulge in all manner of sensual stimulation... to lie, cheat, and steal... Spinoza, according to all seventeenth-century interpreters, rejected all the traditional ideas about God; he was indesputably a heretic. Yet his manner of living was humble and apparently free of vice. Then, as now, the philosopher seemed a living oxymoron: he was an ascetic sensualist, a spiritual materialist, a sociable hermit, a secular saint. How could his life have been so good, the critics asked, when his philosophy was so bad?<!--p.73 Matthew Stewart, The Courtier and the Heretic (2006)

„Hereby then are all admonished that none hold converse with him by word of mouth, none hold communication with him by writing ; that no one do him any service, no one abide under the same roof with him, no one approach within four cubits' length of him, and no one read any document dictated by him, or written by his hand.“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: With the judgment of the angels and the sentence of the saints, we anathematize, execrate, curse and cast out Baruch de Espinoza, the whole of the sacred community assenting, in presence of the sacred books with the six-hundred-and-thirteen precepts written therein, pronouncing against him the malediction wherewith Elisha cursed the children, and all the maledictions written in the Book of the Law. Let him be accursed by day, and accursed by night; let him be accursed in his lying down, and accursed in his rising up; accursed in going out and accursed in coming in. May the Lord never more pardon or acknowledge him; may the wrath and displeasure of the Lord burn henceforth against this man, load him with all the curses written in the Book of the Law, and blot out his name from under the sky; may the Lord sever him from all the tribes of Israel, weight him with all the maledictions of the firmament contained in the Book of Law; and may all ye who are obedient to the Lord your God be saved this day. Hereby then are all admonished that none hold converse with him by word of mouth, none hold communication with him by writing; that no one do him any service, no one abide under the same roof with him, no one approach within four cubits' length of him, and no one read any document dictated by him, or written by his hand. Writ of expulsion from the Jewish community, as translated in Benedict de Spinoza : His Life, Correspondence, and Ethics (1870) by Robert Willis

„I... lest I... confound the divine nature with the human, do not assign to God human attributes“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: This impels me, before going into your reasons, to set forth briefly my opinion on the question, whether the world was made by chance. But I answer, that as it is clear that chance and necessity are two contraries, so is it also clear, that he, who asserts the world to be a necessary effect of the divine nature, must utterly deny that the world has been made by chance; whereas, he who affirms that God need not have made the world, confirms, though in different language, the doctrine that it has been made by chance; inasmuch as he maintains that it proceeds from a wish, which might never have been formed. However, as this opinion and theory is on the face of it absurd, it is commonly very unanimously admitted, that God's will is eternal, and has never been indifferent; hence... the world is a necessary effect of the divine nature. Let them call it will, understanding, or any name they like, they come at last to the same conclusion, that under different names they are expressing one and the same thing. If you ask them, whether the divine will does not differ from the human, they answer, that the former has nothing in common with the latter except its name; especially as they generally admit that God's will, understanding, intellect, essence, and nature are all identical; so I... lest I... confound the divine nature with the human, do not assign to God human attributes, such as will, understanding, attention, hearing, &c. I therefore say, as I have said already, that the world is a necessary effect of the divine nature, and that it has not been made by chance. I think this is enough to persuade you, that the opinion of those (if such there be) who say that the world has been made by chance, is entirely contrary to mine; and relying on this hypothesis, I proceed to examine those reasons which lead you to infer the existence of all kinds of ghosts.<!--pp. 381-382 Letter to Hugo Boxel (Oct. 1674) [https://books.google.com/books?id=Nz1kRKDMbUMC The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza] (1891) Tr. R. H. M. Elwes, Vol. 2, Letter 58 (54).

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„This error... forms one of the ultimate foundations of the system of Spinoza.“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: Descartes... fell back on his original confusion of matter with space—space being, according to him, the only form of substance, and all existing things but affections of space. This error... forms one of the ultimate foundations of the system of Spinoza. James Clerk Maxwell, Matter and Motion (1876)

„But if in any case I did find error in that which I have collected from my natural understanding, I should count it good fortune, since I“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: If you find the light of Scripture clearer than the light of reason (which also is given us by divine wisdom), you are doubtless right in your own conscience in making your reason yield. For my part, since I plainly confess that I do not understand the Scriptures, though I have spent many years upon them, and since I know that when once I have a firm proof I cannot by any course of thought come to doubt of it, I rest wholly upon that which my understanding commends to me, without any suspicion that I am deceived therein, or that the Scriptures, even though I do not search them, can speak against it. For one truth cannot conflict with another, as I have already clearly shown in my Appendix to the "Principles of Descartes"... But if in any case I did find error in that which I have collected from my natural understanding, I should count it good fortune, since I enjoy life, and endeavour to pass it not in weeping and sighing, but in peace, joy, and cheerfulness, and from time to time climb thereby a step higher. I know, meanwhile (which is the highest pleasure of all), that all things happen by the power and unchangeable decree of the most perfect Being. Letter to William van Blyenbergh (1665) as quoted by Sir Frederick Pollock, [https://books.google.com/books?id=82R9rMALJfQC Spinoza: His Life and Philosophy] (1880) pp. 50-51.

„When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is ; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished ; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped.“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped. The briefness of a letter and want of time do not allow me to enter into my opinion on the divine nature, or the questions you have propounded. Besides, suggesting difficulties is not the same as producing reasons. That we do many things in the world from conjecture is true, but that our redactions are based on conjecture is false. In practical life we are compelled to follow what is most probable; in speculative thought we are compelled to follow truth. A man would perish of hunger and thirst, if he refused to eat or drink, till he had obtained positive proof that food and drink would be good for him. But in philosophic reflection this is not so. On the contrary, we must take care not to admit as true anything, which is only probable. For when one falsity has been let in, infinite others follow. Again, we cannot infer that because sciences of things divine and human are full of controversies and quarrels, therefore their whole subject-matter is uncertain; for there have been many persons so enamoured of contradiction, as to turn into ridicule geometrical axioms. [http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1711&chapter=144218&layout=html&Itemid=27 Letter 56 (60), to Hugo Boxel (1674)]

„Let him be accursed by day, and accursed by night; let him be accursed in his lying down, and accursed in his rising up ; accursed in going out and accursed in coming in“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: With the judgment of the angels and the sentence of the saints, we anathematize, execrate, curse and cast out Baruch de Espinoza, the whole of the sacred community assenting, in presence of the sacred books with the six-hundred-and-thirteen precepts written therein, pronouncing against him the malediction wherewith Elisha cursed the children, and all the maledictions written in the Book of the Law. Let him be accursed by day, and accursed by night; let him be accursed in his lying down, and accursed in his rising up; accursed in going out and accursed in coming in. May the Lord never more pardon or acknowledge him; may the wrath and displeasure of the Lord burn henceforth against this man, load him with all the curses written in the Book of the Law, and blot out his name from under the sky; may the Lord sever him from all the tribes of Israel, weight him with all the maledictions of the firmament contained in the Book of Law; and may all ye who are obedient to the Lord your God be saved this day. Hereby then are all admonished that none hold converse with him by word of mouth, none hold communication with him by writing; that no one do him any service, no one abide under the same roof with him, no one approach within four cubits' length of him, and no one read any document dictated by him, or written by his hand. Writ of expulsion from the Jewish community, as translated in Benedict de Spinoza : His Life, Correspondence, and Ethics (1870) by Robert Willis

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„The doctrines added by certain churches, such as that God took upon himself human nature, I have expressly said that I do not understand; in fact, to speak the truth, they seem to me no less absurd than would a statement, that a circle had taken upon itself the nature of a square.“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: I do not think it necessary for salvation to know Christ according to the flesh : but with regard to the Eternal Son of God, that is the Eternal Wisdom of God, which has manifested itself in all things and especially in the human mind, and above all in Christ Jesus, the case is far otherwise. For without this no one can come to a state of blessedness, inasmuch as it alone teaches, what is true or false, good or evil. And, inasmuch as this wisdom was made especially manifest through Jesus Christ, as I have said, his disciples preached it, in so far as it was revealed to them through him, and thus showed that they could rejoice in that spirit of Christ more than the rest of mankind. The doctrines added by certain churches, such as that God took upon himself human nature, I have expressly said that I do not understand; in fact, to speak the truth, they seem to me no less absurd than would a statement, that a circle had taken upon itself the nature of a square. This I think will be sufficient explanation of my opinions concerning the three points mentioned. Whether it will be satisfactory to Christians you will know better than I. Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg, November (1675) Variant translation: The eternal wisdom of God … has shown itself forth in all things, but chiefly in the mind of man, and most of all in Jesus Christ.

„The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another. Albert Einstein, in [http://books.google.com/books?id=ZpdlRg2IJUcC&pg=PT32&dq=%22en+like+Democritus,+Francis+of+Assisi,+and+Spinoza+are+closely+akin+to+one+another%22&hl=en&ei=-J7LTqqNJaG90AHAir0E&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CGYQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=%22en%20like%20Democritus%2C%20Francis%20of%20Assisi%2C%20and%20Spinoza%20are%20closely%20akin%20to%20one%20another%22&f=false The World as I See It (1949)]

„I cannot consider them as anything but dreams, which differ from God as totally as that which is not differs from that which is.“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: If I had as clear an idea of ghosts, as I have of a triangle or a circle, I should not in the least hesitate to affirm that they had been created by God; but as the idea I possess of them is just like the ideas, which my imagination forms of harpies, gryphons, hydras, &c., I cannot consider them as anything but dreams, which differ from God as totally as that which is not differs from that which is.<!--pp. 382-383 Letter to Hugo Boxel (Oct. 1674) The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza (1891) Tr. R. H. M. Elwes, Vol. 2, Letter 58 (54).

„You can take every one of Spinoza's propositions, and take the contrary propositions, and“

— Baruch Spinoza
Context: My son is taking a course in philosophy, and last night we were looking at something by Spinoza and there was the most childish reasoning! There were all these attributes, and Substances, and all this meaningless chewing around, and we started to laugh. Now how could we do that? Here's this great Dutch philosopher, and we're laughing at him. It's because there's no excuse for it! In the same period there was Newton, there was Harvey studying the circulation of the blood, there were people with methods of analysis by which progress was being made! You can take every one of Spinoza's propositions, and take the contrary propositions, and look at the world and you can't tell which is right. Richard Feynman, in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999), Ch. 9. The Smartest Man in the World

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