dinsdag 25 juli 2017

Hoe Spinoza hemelsbreed verschilt van Leibniz w.b. “kwaad in de wereld”…

… een probleem dat voor Spinoza dus in ’t geheel niet bestaat.

Twee voorafgaande blogs, die van vandaag, 22 juli 2017 over “Spinoza over goed en kwaad” en die van gisteren, 23 juli 2017 over “Spinoza over internationaal recht”, worden enigszins met elkaar in verband worden gebracht, via een duidelijke tekst (waarin ook Susan Neiman weer even voorbij komt) uit het volgende werk van:

Renée Jeffery, Evil and International Relations: Human Suffering in an Age of Terror. [Palgrave] Springer, 2007 – books,google

[Verwijzingen laat ik achterwege - daarvoor verwijs ik naar het boek]
In attempting to reconcile the goodness of God with the existence of evil in the world, Leibniz invoked a monist understanding of theodicy. In general terms, monism maintains that "the universe forms an ultimate harmonious unity [and] ... that evil is only apparent and would be recognized as good if we could see it in its full cosmic context." First attributed to Epicurus, this pattern of thought exists in both theistic and secular forms, finding its most prominent articulation in the works of Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677). Referred to as the "virtuous atheist" by Bayle, in adhering to a monist woridview "Spinoza saw reality as forming an infinite and perfect whole—perfect in the sense that everything within it follows by logical necessity from the eternal divine nature—and saw each finite thing as making its own proper contribution to this infinite perfection.." Within this perfect whole, evil—and for that matter, good—is not conceived as an objective reality (entia realia) but as a mental entity (entia rationis). As Spinoza explained:

After men persuaded themselves, that everything which is created is created for their sake, they were bound to consider as the chief quality in everything that which is most useful to themselves, and to account those things the best of all which have the most beneficial effect on mankind. Further they were bound to form abstract notions for the explanation of the nature of things, such as goodness, badness, order, confusion, warmth, cold, beauty, deformity, and so on; and from the belief that they are free agents arose the further notions of praise and blame, sin and merit. . .. We have now perceived, that all the explanations commonly given of nature are mere modes of imagining, and do not indicate the true nature of anything, but only the constitution of the imagination; and, although they have names, as though they were entities, existing externally to the imagination, I call them entities imaginary rather than rea1.

Thus, Spinoza denied that "evil" could have any objective meaning. Rather, "knowledge of evil" was, in his view, "inadequate knowledge" and would not be conceived of at all "if the human mind possessed only adequate ideas."

Echoing some, but critically not all of Spinoza's ideas about evil, Leibniz also wrote in a monist sense that "all the evils in the world contribute, in ways which generally we cannot now trace, to the character of the whole as the best of all possible universes." However, where Spinoza made the stronger claim that the absolute perfection of the world was "a necessary expression of the eternal and infinite perfection of God or Nature," Leibniz argued that this was "the best practicable world." Indeed, taking this argument to its logical extreme, Leibniz argued, "If the smallest evil that comes to pass in the world were missing in it, it would no longer be this world; which, nothing omitted and no allowance made, was found the best by the Creator who chose it." As Susan Neiman explains, in making this argument that the creation is "the best of all possible worlds," Leibniz was, in part, referring to the Castilian King Alfonso X, a student of Ptolemaic astronomy who appeared in Bayle's work. Significantly, Bayle devoted some attention to Alphonso's blasphemous claim that "if he had been God's counsel at the time of creation, certain things would be in better order than they are.” For Alfonso, this was certainly not the "best of all possible worlds" and, as such, he "proved a perfect foil in Leibniz's polemic against Bayle."

Koning Alfonso X van Castilië [van hier]

In part, the wide discrepancy between Alfonso's and Leibniz's views of the order of creation can be attributed to "the miserable state of thirteenth-century astronomy." Neiman writes in this vein that, "had the world been created as Ptolemy supposed, the Creator could indeed have used advice in design." However, Leibniz's view of future understanding was far more optimistic:

And if we hold the same opinion as King Alfonso, we shall, I say, receive this answer: You have known the world only since the day before yesterday, you scarce see farther than your nose, and you carp at the world. Wait until you know more of the world and consider therein especially the parts which present a complete whole (as do organic bodies); and you will find therein a contrivance and a beauty transcending all imagination. Let us thence draw conclusions as to the wisdom and the goodness of the author of the world, even in things that we know not. We find in the universe some things which are not pleasing to us; but let us be aware that it is not made for us alone. It is nevertheless made for us if we are wise: it will serve us if we use it for our service; we shall be happy in it if we wish to be.

What accompanied Leibniz's theodicy was a division of human misery into metaphysical, physical (natural), and moral categories of evil, a division that echoed King's earlier attempt at the categorization of evils. Metaphysical evil, Leibniz argued, "consists in mere imperfection"; that is, it was viewed as a function of creation's finitude." Physical evil is conceived as suffering and, although Leibniz claimed that God "does not will [it] absolutely: he does "will it often as a penalty owing to guilt, and often also as a means to an end, that is, to prevent greater evils or to obtain greater good." That is, physical evil was understood to be the "pain and suffering" humans experience as the penalty for committing moral evil, conceived as sin." Thus, Leibniz argued, as Augustine had done before him, that human beings suffer because they sin, although he thought the connection "too self-evident to warrant serious question.” This, however, was all to change with the destructive force of one of the most spectacular events of the early modern period, the Lisbon earthquake.
 Van wiki - 1755 Lisbon earthquake

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