Spinoza on Destroying Passions with Reason


Authors
Colin Marshall
University of Washington
Abstract
Spinoza claims we can control any passion by forming a more clear and distinct idea of it. The interpretive consensus is that Spinoza is either wrong or over-stating his view. I argue that Spinoza’s view is plausible and insightful. After breaking down Spinoza’s characterization of the relevant act, I consider four existing interpretations and conclude that each is unsatisfactory. I then consider a further problem for Spinoza: how his definitions of ‘action’ and ‘passion’ make room for passions becoming action. I propose two solutions to this problem, both of which yield a hint regarding what act Spinoza has in mind. Using that hint, I propose that we can appreciate Spinoza’s insight by considering how philosophizing about a feeling can 'kill the mood.' The act of grasping how a passion exemplifies certain general truths, I hold, is a distinctly rational activity that has all the features Spinoza describes. I conclude by showing how this interpretation fits with Spinoza’s larger views on rational knowledge, rational joy, the comprehensibility of passions, and the relation between second- and first-order ideas.
Keywords Spinoza  psychotherapy  passion control  reason  5p4
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Reprint years 2012
ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2011.00533.x
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References found in this work BETA

Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 431-433.
The Authority of Affect.Mark Johnston - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):181-214.
The Power of Reason in Spinoza.Martin Lin - 2009 - In Olli Koistinen (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza's Ethics. Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Restricting Spinoza's Causal Axiom.John Morrison - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (258):40-63.
A Critical Assesment of Spinoza’s Theory of Affect: Affects, Beliefs, and Human Freedom.Ahmet Aktaş - 2018 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):251-272.

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