Baruch Spinoza's Anti Anthroponcentric View

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When Baruch Spinoza composed his philosophical masterpiece, the Ethics, he knew that his ideas (particularly those of God) would be considered heretical in the extreme, leading to any number of unpleasant consequences. This was the reason that the Ethics were published in 1677, posthumously (p.97)1. His apprehensions are well justified in the light of what he writes in the Appendix (p.145-149) to Part1: Concerning God (p.129-145) regarding the prejudices present in the minds of human beings. For, it is here that Spinoza directly challenges the prevalent religious orthodoxy and seeks to remove the very dogma that was the basis of their power. Spinoza asserts in the Appendix (p.145) that there exist certain prejudices in the minds of people that prevent them from understanding (and accepting as true) the conclusions that he reaches after a thoroughly logical and indeed, geometrical process of reasoning. The root of all these prejudices, he further clarifies, is the almost universal belief that all Natural things exist and act with some definite goal being pursued. Further, he presents for scrutiny the very strong anthropomorphism inherent in most human minds that makes these people believe in the universe having been created for their sake. Lastly comes the religious part of this picture, wherein mankind exists so that it may worship God, thereby closing the circle of creation. Spinoza (naturally, considering his philosophy) rejects this picture and thereby attempts in the Appendix to argue on the following crucial points: 1) The reason 1 Roger Ariew & Eric Watkins. Modern Philosophy: An anthology of primary sources. Indianapolis/Cambridge, 1998. Note: All references to Spinoza will be to this text unless otherw... ... middle of paper ... ...e former, Spinoza replies, “...the perfection of things should be measured solely from their own nature and power” and not with respect to definitions in the imagination. Furthermore, God had no free will in creating the universe, (from Cor. 1 Pr. 32, p.142 as described previously) and (from Pr.16, p.137) “from the necessity of the divine..(follows)..everything that can come within the scope of infinite intellect”. Therefore, God must, of necessity, be the cause of everything, perfect and imperfect! 6 In conclusion, Spinoza provides an immaculate argument that should readily convince the reader of the truth of his main proposition in the Appendix, i.e. that the major reason for obstacles in the path of understanding is the anthropocentric view of Nature that most people hold on to, irrespective of the enormity of the contradictions inherent in that view. 7

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