maandag 11 februari 2019

Spinozisme over leven, dood en zelfdoding bij #Spinoza [3]

Na blog 1 en blog 2, volgt hier het derde over Spinozisme over leven, dood en zelfdoding bij Spinoza. De meeste publicaties in de secundaire literatuur, zoals in volgende blogs zal blijken, gaan over Spinoza’s denken over dood en zelfdoding. Daarom zie ik extra reden om hier te wijzen op
Samuel Ducourant, “Der Lebensbegriff in Spinozas Ethik,” [uit 2015; cf. blog van 5 november 2017: » “Das Leben” muss für einen der wichtigsten Begriffe der Ethik gehalten werden. «
Voor ik in het volgende blog de relevante publicaties in het Spinozisme noem, haal ik hier eerst één tekst naar voren om een motief dat zo direct duidelijk wordt:
John Carriero, “Conatus and Perfection in Spinoza.” In: Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 35 (1) (2011), 69-92 [Wiley Online Library & PDF]
De geboden PDF-tekst is duidelijk nog een concepttekst, zoals blijkt uit de eerste voetnoot, waarin de auteur spreekt over “Paul”. Pas verderop wordt duidelijk dat het gaat om Paul Hoffman [cf. *]. Aan het eind van het stuk zijn nadere vragen van een redacteur te lezen.
Mij gaat het erom dat bij de volgende passage
According to Spinoza, a crucial characteristic of such a system [a corporeal system] is that it “persevere in being,” so that where one thinks something that looks like a self-destructive system—a burning candle,18 or a diseased tree, or someone committing suicide19—it is metaphysically correct to factor that into a real thing and the external forces working on it—the candle and the flame, the tree and the disease, Seneca and the command of the Tyrant.

Carriero een uitgebreide voetnoot (19) geeft, die ik hier graag overneem, daar hij een betekenisvolle toelichting geeft op een belangrijke achtergrond van Spinoza’s leer over de onmogelijkheid van zelfmoord.

18 The candle example comes from TdEI § 57.
19 To the extent that Spinoza faces a special problem about suicide—and this is a delicate and interesting question—I think it would come from his rejection of a traditional conception of the will.
A traditional treatment of suicide would see suicide as arising, not from the individual’s base nature, but from the individual’s use of her will. Even here, there is something that needs to be explained, for, on a prominent conception of the will,“the will does not tend towards evil except in so far as it is presented to it by the intellect under some aspect of goodness” (this is Descartes’s statement of a very common position at 1:366; 3:56). Since being and good are convertible, this is to say that the will intrinsically tends toward being. So, on this conception, the problem that suicide presents is explaining the good that the person who commits suicide aims at, and, to the extent that nonbeing resulted, how a faculty that is fundamentally aimed at being, wound up taking a course that resulted in nonbeing. (The “to the extent that” is particularly important in view of the fact that many—including, it seems, Spinoza—subscribe to some form of immorality.) For an early treatment of suicide in this context, see Book Three of Augustine’s De Libero Arbitrio (••: ••, ••).
Spinoza’s task is arguably more complicated, in part because he rejects an absolute faculty of the will, and so cannot use the will to insulate, as it were, a thing’s activities and decisions from its underlying base nature (for Spinoza, the will is derived from the constellation of a thing’s motive tendencies, the thing’s conatus, 3p9s; see also 2p48s). Still, I believe he has the resources to provide an account of suicide that is consistent with his systematic constraints.For example, in some cases of suicide, perhaps what happens is that certain subsystems bring about an instability that eventually overpowers the rest of the system.As this happens, the destabilizing subsystem becomes alien, like a cancerous tumor. Of course, this is meant as a sketch of one case; other cases may be more difficult to work out within Spinoza’s system. In any case, it is important to have an idea of what the problem looks like from his point of view, and how his problem intersects with the more traditional one.
(I am grateful to Brian Hutler for unpublished writing and conversation surrounding the topic of rationalist theories of suicide.)

Luca Giordano (1634-1705), De dood van Seneca, 1650-1653, - Munich, Alte Pinakothek.

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