woensdag 27 februari 2019

Norman O. Brown - grepen uit zijn “Life Against Death” over #Spinoza


Vervolg op het blog van 26 sept. over Norman O. Brown en zijn
Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death. The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History. Wesleyan University Press, 1959; 2nd edition 1985 [with introduction by Christopher Lasch)- 387 pages. Hier het PDF van de 2nd edition!

In drie hoofdstukken heeft Brown stukken tekst waarin hij Freud en Spinoza vergelijkt, n.l. in de hoofdstukken 4, 9 en 16. Ik geef daartoe eerst de inhoudsopgave, en vervolgens de betreffende teksten. [De nummers der eindnoten wel meegenomen, maar die eindnoten zelf niet; daarvoor verwijs ik naar het boek]. 

Introduction to the Second Edition, by Christopher Lasch vii
Acknowledgments xv
Preface xvii
Part One: The Problem
I The Disease Called Man 3
II Neurosis and History 11
Part Two: Eros
III Sexuality and Childhood 23
IV The Self and the Other: Narcissus 40
V Art and Eros 55
VI Language and Eros 68
Part Three: Death
VII Instinctual Dualism and Instinctual Dialectics 77
VIII Death, Time, and Eternity 87
IX Death and Childhood 110
Part Four: Sublimation
X The Ambiguities of Sublimation 137
XI Couch and Culture 145
XII Apollo and Dionysus 157
Part Five: Studies in Anality
XIII The Excremental Vision 179
XIV The Protestant Era 202
XV Filthy Lucre 234
Rationality and Irrationality
Sacred and Secular
Utility and Uselessness
Owe and Ought
Time is Money
Giving and Taking
The City Sublime
The Human Body
Part Six: The Way Out
XVI The Resurrection of the Body 307
Reference Notes 323
Bibliography 351
Index 361

Uit hoofdstuk IV The Self and the Other: Narcissus
The ultimate aim of the Freudian Eros to affirm union with the world in pleasure is substantially the same as Spinoza's formula for the ultimate aim of human desire the intellectual love of God. God, in Spinoza's system, is the totality of Nature (Deus sire Natura). He defines love as pleasure (laetitia) together with the idea of an external cause (the source of the pleasure), adding that it is a property of love to will a union with the beloved object, in the sense that satisfaction lies in the presence of the beloved object. Hence for Spinoza the ultimate aim of human desire is to unite with the world in pleasure; and, as in Freud, this is the ultimate aim of an energy (desire) which is in essence narcissistic. For Spinoza the energy of the individual is essentially directed at self-maintenance, self-activity, self-perfection (conatus in suo esse perseverandi), which is also self-enjoyment (laetitia). Thus for Spinoza, as for Freud, the self-perfection (narcissism) of the human individual is fulfilled in union with the world in pleasure.23 There are important differences between Freud and Spinoza [-] differences not recognized, for example, in Smart Hampshire's acute comparison of the two.24 Above all, Freud has two instincts at war with each other, in place of Spinoza’s single conatus, and thus can grasp human bondage (Spinoza's term) as internal conflict and not simply as ignorance. And, as we shall see later, Freud's final notion of Death as the antagonist of Eros is incompatible with Spinoza's notion of eternity. Nevertheless, on essential points they are allied, and both are at odds with the Western tradition. Like Freud, Spinoza is at war with the illusion of free will; and, as in Freud, the commitment to the principle of psychological determinism results in the "hideous hypothesis" that the basis of our ordinary morality is irrational and superstitious. Spinoza is thus also driven to a gloomy picture of our present state of human bondage as a sick state in which we are determined by unconscious determinations: "It is plain that we are disturbed by external causes in a number of ways, and that, like the waves of the sea agitated by contrary winds, we fluctuate and are unconscious of the issue and our fate."25 Hence Spinoza, like Freud, replaces moralism by clinical understanding, and prescribes a radical psychoanalysis to make us conscious of the causes which have determined our nature and, by making us conscious of our determinism, to make us free.

On the problem of human happiness, what distinguishes Spinoza from the Western philosophic tradition and aligns him with Freud is his allegiance to the pleasureprinciple and his rejection of mind-body dualism. His allegiance to the pleasureprinciple brings him to recognize the narcissistic, self-enjoying character of human desire, and hence to recognize that human perfection consists in an expansion of the self until it enjoys the world as it enjoys itself. And with his rejection of mind body dualism, Spinoza never forgets that man's desire is for the active life of his own body. From his notion of mind and body as two attributes of one substance, it follows that the power and perfection of the human intellect is at the same time the power and perfection of the human body. "If anything increases, diminishes, helps, or limits our body's power of action, the idea of that thing increases, diminishes, helps, or limits our mind's power of thought." 26

Hence the expansion of the self, in which human perfection consists, is at the same time the expansion of the active life of the human body, unifying our body with other bodies in the world in active interaction: "That which so disposes the human body that it can be affected in many ways, is profitable to man, and is more profitable in proportion as by its means the body becomes better fitted to be affected in many ways and to affect other bodies."27 Spinoza sees the inadequacy of the human body as currently structured to sustain the project of human Eros: "In this life, therefore, it is our chief endeavour to change the body of infancy, so far as its nature permits and is conducive thereto, into another body which is fitted for many things."28

What Spinoza cannot see, without becoming Freud, is that the endeavor to acquire "a body which is fitted for many things" is the endeavor to recover the body of infancy. Spinoza's "body fitted for many things" is structurally identical with the polymorphously perverse body of infantile sexuality in Freud, the body delighting in the activity of all of its organs. But Spinoza recognizes the "body fitted for many things" as the bodily counterpart of the intellectual love of God: "He who possesses a body fitted for doing many things, possesses the power of causing all the modifications of the body to be related to the idea of God, in consequence of which he is affected with a love of God which must occupy or form the greatest part of his mind, and therefore he possesses a mind of which the greatest part is eternal."29 Spinoza's intellectual love of God is identical with Freud's polymorphous perversity of children.

Uit hoofdstuk IX Death and Childhood

The Oedipal project is not, as Freud's earlier formulations suggest, a natural love of the mother, but as his later writings recognize, a product of the conflict of ambivalence and an attempt to overcome that conflict by narcissistic inflation.22 The essence of the Oedipal complex is the project of becoming God in Spinoza's formula, causa sui; in Sartre's, être-en-soi-poursoi. By the same token, it plainly exhibits infantile narcissism perverted by the flight from death. At this stage (and in adult genital organization) masculinity is equated with activity; the fantasy of becoming father of oneself is attached to the penis, thus establishing a concentration of narcissistic libido in the genital.23

Uit hoofdstuk XVI The Resurrection of the Body

And, on the other hand, Freud's essay "On Negation"40 may throw light on the nature of the "dialectical" dissatisfaction with formal logic. Negation is the primal act of repression; but it at the same time liberates the mind to think about the repressed under the general condition that it is denied and thus remains essentially repressed.

With Spinoza's formula omnis determinatio est negatio in mind, examine the following formulations of Freud: "A negative judgment is the intellectual substitute for repression; the 'No' in which it is expressed is the hall-mark of repression. . . . By the help of the symbol of negation, the thinking process frees itself from the limitations of repression and enriches itself with the subject-matter without which it could not work efficiently." But: "Negation only assists in undoing one of the consequences of repressionthe fact that the subject-matter of the image in question is unable to enter consciousness. The result is a kind of intellectual acceptance of what is repressed, though in all essentials the repression persists."41


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