Spinoza's use of the phrase “sui iuris” in the Tractatus Politicus gives rise to the following paradox. On the one hand, one is said to be sui iuris to the extent that one is rational; and to the extent that one is rational, one will steadfastly obey the laws of the state. However, Spinoza also states that to the extent that one adheres to the laws of the state, one is not sui iuris, but rather stands under the power [sub (...) potestate] of the state . It seems, then, that to the extent that one is sui iuris, one will not, in fact, be sui iuris. In this paper, I offer an interpretation of Spinoza's notion of being sui iuris that enables us to overcome this paradox and sheds light on Spinoza's relationship to the republican tradition. I work towards this goal by distinguishing between two ways in which Spinoza uses the locution, which correspond to two different conceptions of power: potentia and potestas. This distinction not only allows us to save Spinoza from internal inconsistency, it also enables us to see one important way in which Spinoza stands outside of the republican tradition, since he conceives of liberty not as constituted by independence, or citizenship in a res publica, but as being sui iuris in the first sense described above: being powerful. (shrink)
Spinoza's Political Psychology advances a novel, comprehensive interpretation of Spinoza's political writings, exploring how his analysis of psychology informs his arguments for democracy and toleration. JustinSteinberg shows how Spinoza's political method resembles the Renaissance civic humanism in its view of governance as an adaptive craft that requires psychological attunement. He examines the ways that Spinoza deploys this realist method in the service of empowerment, suggesting that the state can affectively reorient and thereby liberate its citizens, but only (...) if it attends to their actual motivational and epistemic capacities. His book will interest a range of readers in Spinoza studies and the history of political thought, as well as readers working in contemporary political theory. (shrink)
Two priority problems frustrate our understanding of Spinoza on desire [cupiditas]. The first problem concerns the relationship between desire and the other two primary affects, joy [laetitia] and sadness [tristitia]. Desire seems to be the oddball of this troika, not only because, contrary to the very definition of an affect, desires do not themselves consist in changes in one's power of acting, but also because desire seems at once more and less basic than joy and sadness. The second problem concerns (...) the priority of desires and evaluative judgements. While 3p9s and 3p39s suggest that evaluative judgements are posterior to desires, Andrew Youpa has recently argued that passages in Ethics 4 indicate that rational evaluative judgements can give rise to, rather than arise out of, desires. I aim to offer solutions to these problems that reveal the elegance and coherence of Spinoza's account of motivation. Ultimately, I argue that whereas emotions and d.. (shrink)
A significant portion of the practice of medicine is dependent on individual acts of medical altruism. Many of these acts, such as the donation of blood, gametes, stem cells, and organs, entail varying degrees of bodily intrusion and, for the altruist, various combinations of discomfort, risk, and expense. Discussion of the ethics of altruism has typically been fragmented under various rubrics such as blood donation, organ and tissue transplantation, health information, and the assisted reproductive technologies. The ethics of these specific (...) examples of altruism are best explored in conjunction with a broader discussion of their relatively neglected mother discipline, altruism in medicine.David Steinberg, M.D., is a board certified internist, hematologist, and oncologist. He is Chief of the Section of Medical Ethics at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.FootnotesThis work was made possible by a grant in memory of Harold Karp by the Karp Family Foundation. (shrink)
In this essay I consider what grounds Spinoza’s defense of the freedom to philosophize, considering why Spinoza doesn’t think that we should attempt to snuff out irrationality and dissolution with the law’s iron fist. In the first section I show that Spinoza eschews skeptical, pluralistic, and rights-based arguments for toleration. I then delineate the prudential, anticlerical roots of Spinoza’s defense, before turning in the final section to consider just how far and when toleration contributes to the guiding norms of governance: (...) peace and empowerment. Once we see how the defense of toleration is anchored in these norms, we form a clearer picture of Spinoza as a liberal perfectionist for whom the bounds of political toleration depends on pragmatic and circumstance-specific assessments of what conduces to the flourishing of the state. This will help to illuminate what is distinctive—and, perhaps, distinctively commendable—about Spinoza’s form of liberalism. (shrink)
Spinoza's account of belief entails that if A has two ideas, p and q, with incompatible content, A believes that p if the idea of p is stronger than the idea of q. This seems to leave little space for dominant non-beliefs, or cases in which there is discord between one's beliefs and one's affective-behavioral responses. And yet Spinoza does allow for two classes of dominant non-beliefs: efficacious fictions [fictiones] and ideas that conduce to akrasia. I show how Spinoza can (...) account for dominant non-beliefs within his model of cognition by distinguishing between the doxastic and the affective powers of ideas and by suggesting that doxastic power is best understood diachronically. While other scholars have stressed the elegance of Spinoza's account of ideas, this paper highlights the sophistication and flexibility of his account. (shrink)
Despite Spinoza’s reputation as a thoroughgoing critic of teleology, in recent years a number of scholars have argued convincingly that Spinoza does not wish to eliminate teleological explanations altogether. Recent interpretative debates have focused on a more recalcitrant problem: whether Spinoza has the resources to allow for the causal efficacy of representational content. In this paper I present the problem of mental causation for Spinoza and consider two recent attempts to respond to the problem on Spinoza’s behalf. While these interpretations (...) certainly shed some light on Spinoza’s account of cognitive economy, I argue that both fail to point the way out of the problem because they fail to differentiate between two forms of representation, one of which is causally efficacious, one of which is not. I close by suggesting that there is some reason to believe that Spinoza’s account of mind avoids some of the problems typically associated with mental causation. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn this paper, I argue that Spinoza’s political theory gives us a model for how he might have approached a treatise on moral education. Indeed, his account of the method and aims of politics resembles Renaissance humanist rhetorical approaches to pedagogy – particularly, the work of sixteenth century Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives – so strongly that it is hardly an exaggeration conclude that, for him, politics is education writ large. For Spinoza and for Vives, the governor-or-instructor must study the (...) prevailing character, or ingenium, of the subject and adopt means that promote the cognitive and emotional development of the subject, which can be accomplished only to the extent that subjects willingly participate in their own governance-or-instruction. Spinoza joins this rhetorical procedure to a Hobbesian scientific approach to studying ingenia, resulting in a political method that is part science, part art. (shrink)
In IVP50S, Spinoza claims that “one who is moved to aid others neither by reason nor by pity is rightly called inhuman. For (by IIIP27) he seems to be unlike a man” (IVP50S). At first blush, the claim seems implausible, as it relies on the dubious assumption that beings will necessarily imitate the affects of conspecifics. In the first two sections of this paper, I explain why Spinoza accepts this thesis and show how this claim can be made compatible with (...) his account of representation. In the third and final section I offer an auxiliary defense of the thesis, showing that, according to Spinoza, to be human is to sociable, and sociability depends on the imitation of the affects. (shrink)
Much recent work on empathy assumes that one cannot give non-question-begging reasons for empathizing with others. In this article I argue that there are epistemic reasons for cultivating empathy. After sketching a brief general account of empathy, I proceed to argue that empathic information is user-friendly, fostering the achievement of widely held cognitive goals. It can also contribute to social knowledge and the satisfaction of democratic ideals. The upshot of my analysis is that there are strong, but defeasible, epistemic reasons (...) for empathizing with others. (shrink)
In the final chapter of the Tractactus Theologico-Politicus , Spinoza declares that “the purpose of the state is, in reality, freedom.” While this remark obviously purports to tell us something important about Spinoza’s conception of the civitas , it is not clear exactly what is revealed. Recently, a number of scholars have interpreted this passage in a way that supports the view that Spinoza was a liberal for whom civic norms are rather more modest than the freedom of the Ethics (...) . Against this view, I provide an interpretation of Spinoza’s account of civil liberation that enables us to view the political writings as an extension of his larger ethical enterprise. Specifically, I show that, according to Spinoza, the state can promote robust liberty in a variety of ways, not least by influencing the behavioral patterns and affective dispositions of its citizens. (shrink)
In this paper, I maintain—contrary to those commentators who regard him as a principled republican—that at the core of Spinoza’s political theory is an instrumental, rather than an intrinsic, defense of democratic procedures. Specifically, Spinoza embraces democratic decision procedures primarily because they tend to result in better decisions, defined relative to a procedure-independent standard of correctness or goodness. In contemporary terms, Spinoza embraces an epistemic defense of democracy. I examine Spinoza’s defense of collective governance, showing not only how it differs (...) from other accounts of his time but also how it might contribute to current debates about the epistemic standing of popular governing bodies. In the opening section I defend the thesis that has been contested in recent years that Spinoza was, in fact, a consistent democrat. The second section focuses on procedural (i.e., intrinsic) defenses of democracy, paying particular attention to the republican version of proceduralism that was prominent in Spinoza’s time. And in the final section I present my case for reading Spinoza as an epistemic democrat, comparing his epistemic defense with contemporary versions. What we find are not only striking anticipations of contemporary arguments, but also largely neglected lines of argumentation that reveal both the potential epistemic advantages and disadvantages of democracy. (shrink)
The Plant Ontology (PO) (http://www.plantontology.org) (Jaiswal et al., 2005; Avraham et al., 2008) was designed to facilitate cross-database querying and to foster consistent use of plant-specific terminology in annotation. As new data are generated from the ever-expanding list of plant genome projects, the need for a consistent, cross-taxon vocabulary has grown. To meet this need, the PO is being expanded to represent all plants. This is the first ontology designed to encompass anatomical structures as well as growth and developmental stages (...) across such a broad taxonomic range. While other ontologies such as the Gene Ontology (GO) (The Gene Ontology Consortium, 2010) or Cell Type Ontology (CL) (Bard et al., 2005) cover all living organisms, they are confined to structures at the cellular level and below. The diversity of growth forms and life histories within plants presents a challenge, but also provides unique opportunities to study developmental and evolutionary homology across organisms. (shrink)
Despite Spinoza’s reputation as a thoroughgoing critic of teleology, in recent years a number of scholars have argued convincingly that Spinoza does not wish to eliminate teleological explanations altogether. Recent interpretative debates have focused on a more recalcitrant problem: whether Spinoza has the resources to allow for the causal efficacy of representational content. In this paper I present the problem of mental causation for Spinoza and consider two recent attempts to respond to the problem on Spinoza’s behalf. While these interpretations (...) certainly shed some light on Spinoza’s account of cognitive economy, I argue that both fail to point the way out of the problem because they fail to differentiate between two forms of representation, one of which is causally efficacious, one of which is not. I close by suggesting that there is some reason to believe that Spinoza’s account of mind avoids some of the problems typically associated with mental causation. Spinoza gilt zwar als kompromissloser Kritiker der Teleologie, aber in den letzten Jahren haben mehrere Philosophiehistoriker überzeugend dafür argumentiert, dass er keineswegs alle teleologischen Erklärungen verabschieden möchte. Neuere Interpretationsdebatten haben sich auf ein hartnäckigeres Problem konzentriert: Verfügt Spinoza über die Ressourcen, um die kausale Wirksamkeit des repräsentationalen Inhalts zuzulassen? In diesem Aufsatz stelle ich das Problem der geistigen Verursachung bei Spinoza dar und betrachte zwei neuere Versuche, im Sinne Spinozas auf dieses Problem einzugehen. Diese Interpretationen werfen sicherlich Licht auf Spinozas Auffassung von kognitiver Sparsamkeit, aber ich argumentiere, dass beide darin scheitern, einen Ausweg aus diesem Problem aufzuzeigen, da es beide versäumen, zwischen zwei Formen von Repräsentationen zu unterscheiden: einer kausal wirksamen und einer, die nicht wirksam ist. Es gibt Grund zur Überzeugung, so lege ich abschließend nahe, dass Spinozas Auffassung des Geistes einige der Probleme vermeidet, die typischerweise mit geistiger Verursachung verbunden sind. (shrink)
It is argued that organ donation from a patient to the patient's physician is ethically dubious because donation decisions will be inappropriately influenced and the negative public perceptions will result in more harm than good. It is suggested that to protect the perception of the physician–patient relationship, avoid cynicism about medicine’s attitude to patient welfare and maintain trust in the medical profession, a new professional boundary should be established to prevent physicians from receiving organs for transplantation donated by their patients.
An examination of the contemporary Italian movement associated with M. P. Sciacca, and the serious application of dialectical and phenomenological methods to unveil the structure of "intentionality" or "spirit." An appraisal of Sciacca together with a sample critique of Dante follows a competent summary of the prevailing positions.--D. B. B.
Justin D'Arms says that moral disapproval is more closely tied to anger than to the “empathic chill” effect I emphasized in Moral Sentimentalism, but I argue that anger is in several ways inappropriate or unsatisfactory as a basis for understanding disapproval. I go on to explain briefly why I think we need not share D'Arms's worries about the possibility of nonveridical empathy but then focus on what he says about the reference-fixing theory of moral terminology defended in Moral Sentimentalism. (...) I explain why I think his interpretations of my view—both at the Spindel Conference and subsequently—misunderstand the (Kripkean) character of that view. My reply to Lori Watson questions whether her criticisms of Moral Sentimentalism's account of morality are sufficiently sensitive to the self−other asymmetry that typifies so much of ordinary moral thinking. (shrink)
Sentimentalist theories in ethics treat evaluative judgments as somehow dependent on human emotional capacities. While the precise nature of this dependence varies, the general idea is that evaluative concepts are to be understood by way of more basic emotional reactions. Part of the task of distinguishing between the concepts that sentimentalism proposes to explicate, then, is to identify a suitably wide range of associated emotions. In this paper, we attempt to deal with an important obstacle to such views, which arises (...) from the dominant tradition in the philosophy of emotion. We will be attempting to steer a middle course between the traditional view and some recent, empirically-minded criticism. (shrink)
In this ambitious and important book, JustinSteinberg attempts to explain the significance of the project for both contemporary political philosophy and the history of political thought. He argues that Spinoza offers a much-needed antidote against "ideal theory" in political philosophy. He also wants to expand our horizons concerning the context of Spinoza's political thought, primarily by noting the influence of Renaissance Civic Humanism. He argues for two main theses: the political works are continuous with the Ethics; and (...) the role of the state is to help perfect the individual.The first chapter, "Metaphysical Psychology and Ingenia Formation," argues that there is a human essence, which is nonetheless... (shrink)
D. Christopher Ralston; Justin Ho (Eds.): Philosophical Reflections on Disability Content Type Journal Article Pages 247-249 DOI 10.1007/s10677-010-9237-8 Authors Franziska Felder, Ethikzentrum der Universität Zürich, Graduiertenprogramm für Interdisziplinäre Ethikforschung, Zollikerstrasse 115, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice Online ISSN 1572-8447 Print ISSN 1386-2820 Journal Volume Volume 14 Journal Issue Volume 14, Number 2.