Рабочая программа по дисциплине иностранный язык (английский) (наименование дисциплины) по отрасли

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The Philosophy of Benedict Spinoza

I. General Notions

Of the two problems left unsolved by Descartes (the determination of the relationship God and the world and between the soul and the body), Spinoza answers the first by affirming the unity of substance and reducing the world to a modification of this single substance. Neo-Platonic thought and the definition of substance given by Descartes (that which so exists as to need no other for its existence) justify, as far as Spinoza is concerned, the abolition of all duality, and the affirmation of the oneness of substance. This accomplished, he logically and inexorably develops all the pantheistic consequences implicit in the oneness of substance.

The second problem left by Descartes (the relationship between the soul -- "res cogitans" -- and the body -- "res extensa") remains open and unsolved in Spinoza. He reduces these two Cartesian substances to two attributes; and to explain their mutual dependence he is obliged to affirm dogmatically the existence of the psycho-physical law, in virtue of which what happens in the "attribute" of the soul automatically finds its correlative in the "attribute" of the body.

II. Life and Works

Baruch (or, as it was often rendered in its Latin equivalent, Benedictus) Spinoza was born in Amsterdam in 1632 of Jewish parents who had emigrated to Holland from the Iberian Peninsula. He received his early education in the Jewish academy of Amsterdam, where he acquired a knowledge of Scripture and of medieval Hebrew philosophy. The rationalism of his thinking while he was a student for the rabbinate resulted in his being invited to retract certain heterodox views. But in 1656, when he refused to make the retraction, he was expelled and excommunicated from the Synagogue of Amsterdam, and exiled from the city by the Protestant authority.

After a brief period of wandering, he settled down at The Hague, where he lived quietly, absorbed in the formulation of his system of thought. He provided for his limited material needs by preparing optical lenses. A small group of friends also gave him aid. During this time he refused a professorship at Heidelberg rather than compromise his freedom of thought. Wasted away by tuberculosis, he died at The Hague on February 21, 1677. His worldly possessions were barely sufficient to pay the debts contracted during his illness.

His principal works are: Tractatus brevis de Deo, De homine et ejus Felicitate (Short Treatise Concerning God, Man and His Happiness); Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (Theological-Political Treatise), which is unfinished; and Ethica More Geometrico Demonstrata (Ethics Demonstrated Through the Method of Geometry), his greatest work, which was published posthumously.

III. Metaphysics

Spinoza begins with the Cartesian concept of substance: that which exists by itself and which is conceived by itself -- which means, that thing whose concept has no need of the concept of any other thing in order to be formed. Spinoza logically and rationally develops the latent pantheism of this Cartesian teaching to its extreme consequences.

For Spinoza, substance is the unconditioned, the absolute, God. It is unique and embraces all reality (this is pure pantheism); it is eternal, outside the limits of time, infinite, endowed with infinite attributes or perfections.

Of this infinity of attributes we know only two, thought and extension. Thus Spinoza abolished the Cartesian duality of substance ("res extensa" and "res cogitans"), reducing them to two perfections or attributes of the single substance.

Substance and its attributes constitute the "Natura naturans," God. From God conceived of as "Natura naturans" necessarily proceed, as the unfolding of God's very nature, man and the world of things, which Spinoza calls modes or modifications of the substance of God (Natura naturata"). The modes are determinations, temporal and finite aspects, of the divine attributes, thought and extension. They can be likened to the whitecaps on the ocean; they appear for a moment, only to be reabsorbed by the same waters that have produced them. We are thus in the realm of pure monistic-immanentist pantheism, whose terms are represented by substance, attributes and modes.

The supreme law which governs Spinoza's reality is necessity: ironbound laws bind God to His attributes, and also determine these attributes in their modes of realization. God is free in the sense that nothing can impede the necessary and spontaneous unfolding of His nature, and not in the sense that He can choose different means of self-determination. Causality in God is a natural and necessary process which excludes all purpose or finalism.

Another fundamental law of Spinoza's metaphysics is that of psycho-physical parallelism, which regulates the world of attributes, both in the divine substance and in its derived modes. The attributes of thought and extension are irreducible, according to the Cartesian concept, and any transition from one to the other is impossible.

Still, the series of phenomena manifesting themselves in thought coincides perfectly with the series of phenomena of extension. In other words, the order of ideas coincides with the order of bodies. This coincidence is guaranteed by the unity of substance of which such phenomena are the appearances or manifestations. Granted the irreducibility of thought to extension, no interaction between soul and body is possible; but granted psycho-physical coincidence or agreement, every manner of being and of operation of thought finds its equivalent in the being and operation of extension. Thus on the one hand there is the idea of a circle and on the other hand, corresponding to it, the actual existing circle.

In virtue of this psycho-parallelism and of the irreducibility of thought to extension, truth for Spinoza does not consist in the agreement of the mind with the thing, but in the correspondence of the mind of the knowing subject with the mind of the known subject.

IV. Man and Ethics

In a pantheistic metaphysics such as that of Spinoza, in which there is a single substance and all things are but finite and temporal modifications of this substance, there is no place for the traditional concept of man as a separate substance existing in himself and composed of a rational soul and a material body. Man, for Spinoza, is a derived mode of the attributes of God; the spirit is a mode of the attribute of thought, and the body a mode of the attribute of extension. Granted the principle of the mutual independence of thought and extension, it would be impossible to have any action of the spirit on the body.

Nor is there place in the metaphysics of Spinoza for an ethics in which the end of man is attained through human actions proceeding from free will. Free will is denied by Spinoza as impossible. Acts of the will can be reduced to cognitive acts, because by virtue of the psycho-physical law every act of knowledge has its corresponding act in the practical sphere.

Even though Spinoza denies the existence of the soul and the freedom of man, he recognizes various psychical activities in both the rational and the physical order. He envisions three stages of knowledge: As a further application of his psycho-physical law, he believes that there is complete parallelism between these three stages of knowledge, their three practical consequences, and the three degrees of morality corresponding to them. He explains this as follows:

  • 1. Sensible cognition is a subjective, inadequate and imperfect method of knowledge. It apprehends the world in the multiplicity of individual beings and not in relation to the eternal, to God. In this stage, man considers all beings as absolutes, contending with each other and opposing him. The practical aspect of this grade of knowledge is passion, for man is here in a state of passivity in his relation to things. Errors appear when man believes that he can make things different from what they actually are, that he can act upon them. The moral condition corresponding to this stage is slavery, for man lives in actual dependence as regards the external world.

  • 2. General rational knowledge embraces things in their indissoluble bond which, at the summit of the chain of causality, connects them with God. Things are known "sub specie aeternitatis." This is the stage of science. In its practical aspect, such knowledge frees us from passion. Man is in a state of contemplation of the impassible and imperturbable order of the universe. The moral attitude here is Stoicism.

  • 3. Intuition is the knowledge of the finite essences in their origin through the consideration of the necessary and immutable order of the infinite essence of God. On this level, the diversity of beings is known in the unity of the divine substance, and man, while he is still limited by time, quantity and number, is freed from the consequences of the mutations and imperfections of nature. This mode of knowledge corresponds in the practical order to intellectual love of God, which is joy and enthusiasm deriving from the knowledge of a particular thing, together with the knowledge of its cause, God. For Spinoza, this love of man for God is returned by God, not as love between persons (for personality is excluded from his metaphysics), but inasmuch as man is identical, in a pantheistic sense, with God. This is a moral state of perfection in which the love of man for God is identical with the love of God for man, as it is merely love of God for Himself.

V. Politics

Spinoza treated the political problem and the religious problem in his Tractatus theologico-politicus.

The methods of government of state and Church, for Spinoza, are not conducive to the elaboration of a rational philosophy. Actions performed in view of the temporal and eternal punishments threatened by the state or by the Church depend on fear and hope, which for Spinoza are irrational passions. For Spinoza, too, the ultimate end of man is, as we realize, for him to know God through reason and to act in conformity with this knowledge. The state must aid man in this rational knowledge of God.

Spinoza holds that the state arose from a pact entered into by men, who at first lived in a condition of irrational nature and in perpetual war. Through this pact the members now composing the state renounced the use of force and violence in favor of authority or a sovereign who is the center of the state. The sovereign may use violence and force against the irrational instincts of his subjects. But this use of force is limited by rationality. Thus, if it should happen that the subjects are more rational than the sovereign, then by psycho-physical parallelism the state would fall, to give place to the rise of another state more rational than the first. Thus, according to Spinoza, has come about the passage from the natural state to the rational state, with a tendency to perfect rationality.

VI. Conclusion

Spinoza developed Cartesian Rationalism to its extreme consequences. He begins with the concept of substance, which, because it does not require another concept in order to be understood and to exist, is a clear concept and must be one. But he concludes with the most absolute pantheism.

Spinoza's system did not meet with good reception at first, perhaps because it was not understood. Idealism took it over because it found in it the principal lineaments for a metaphysics in the idealist sense.


The Philosophy of William James

I. Introduction

In a paper on "How To Make Your Ideas Clear," contributed to the Popular Science Monthly in 1878, Charles Sanders Pierce first used the word "pragmatism" to designate a principle put forward by him as a rule for guiding the scientist and the mathematician. The principle is that the meaning of any conception in the mind is the practical effect it will have in action. The rule remained unnoticed for twenty years, until it was taken up by Professor William James in the address he delivered at the University of California in 1898.

II. Life and Works

William James, psychologist and philosopher, was born in New York in 1842 and died in 1910. He was the son of philosopher Henry James, Sr., and brother of novelist Henry James. He studied medicine at Harvard University, and went to Germany to complete his studies in psychology in 1867. After his return to America, he taught at Harvard, and later, for short periods, at Columbia University and at Stanford.

James was the founder of the movement of thought called Pragmatism, which not only spread throughout America, but also over Europe as the fashionable philosophy for more than twenty years. At Harvard, he had been a member of "The Metaphysical Club," an informal group that met to discuss philosophy and included Charles Sanders Peirce, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Chauncey Wright, all of whom were to become well known in the pragmatist movement.

James is generally considered not only the most influential of all American philosophers but the very representative of American thought. However, the results of his thinking are by no means confined to his native country, and his background is anything but exclusively American. Very few American families maintained such intimate contact with Europe as did Henry James, Sr., a theologian and philosophical writer, and a great amateur of wide culture, and his sons William and Henry, the great novelist, who, on his part, was more at home in France and England than in the land of his birth.

After receiving his medical degree, James suffered a period of illness, but in 1873 he was able to accept an appointment as instructor in anatomy and physiology at Harvard. Two years later he began teaching psychology, and in 1879, philosophy. James remained at Harvard, with only a few interruptions in his academic career, until his resignation in 1907. The works of Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill were important influences in James's early thinking; Henri Bergson was important both personally and philosophically in his later years, as was John Dewey, who carried on the leadership of the pragmatist movement after James's death.

In his youth, William James desired to become known as a painter. But, while living with art, he learned that he could live without art, and turned to medicine and the natural sciences. However, his early study of painting was no labor lost. On the contrary, James derived from it his pictorial manner of philosophizing, which does not involve picturesqueness of style but rather his talents for conveying the present aspect of a situation, for finding immediate joy in the variety of appearances from which he proceeded to enjoy the various psychic experiences, while being capable of describing them in scientific terms, coined afresh, without much regard to traditional terminology.

Such blending of scientific sagacity with artistic sensibility, such psychological perspicacity, enriched and refined by his previous study of art, and disciplined by scientific training, are characteristics of James's brilliant lectures and writing, and the cause of his great success. His gifts became known to the public in 1890 when his Principles of Psychology appeared, marking a new period in this special branch of science and foreshadowing his turn to philosophy.

It was the latent artist in James that made his treatment of moral, epistemological, and metaphysical problems a revolt of the spirit of immediate concrete experience against the intellectualistic idealism. James's radical empiricism maintains the plurality of the real units of which, according to him, experience consists, against any harmonizing or simplifying monism. Pragmatism, as James defines his empiricism, has become of immense consequence in modern thinking.

His principal philosophical works are: Principles of Psychology; The Will to Believe; The Varieties of Religious Experience; and Pragmatism.

III. The Pragmatic Method

In his famous work The Principles of Psychology (1890), James developed the view, in opposition to the more traditional associationism, that consciousness functions in an active, purposeful way to relate and organize thoughts, giving them a streamlike continuity. In the history of psychology, James's theory of mind is called functionalism. James had established an international reputation in psychology before his main focus turned to philosophy, and many of his philosophical views have their roots in his psychological studies.

James starts from a Positivist viewpoint, that is, from experience, which for him is established by psychological facts. The psychological facts make their appearance as an undifferentiated stream. In this psychic stream the mind makes a distinction between subject and object, sensations and concepts. Concepts arise out of the necessity of organizing the confused facts of experience. Hence their value is not absolute but relative to their utility in practice, i.e., relative to their practical consequences (Pragmatism).

"The pragmatic method," says James, "tries to interpret each notion (concept) by tracing its respective practical consequences." The value of concepts whose practical consequences have not yet been experienced scientifically, depends upon the will. Thus between two hypotheses, neither of which can be tested scientifically, the choice is made by the will on the basis of utility.

For example, the question of the existence of God is reduced to the following: "What would be the practical consequences if we believed that matter produces all things, or if we believed that God exists and that the world is the work of His providence?" In the first hypothesis, James observes, the world would appear deeply enshrouded in the coldness of death; in the second hypothesis the world appears solid, warm,, full of real meaning. Thus our choice must be made in favor of the second hypothesis.

James considered pragmatism to be both a method for analyzing philosophic problems and a theory of truth. He also saw it as an extension of the empiricist attitude in that it turned away from abstract theory and fixed or absolute principles and toward concrete facts, actions, and relative principles. James considered philosophies to be expressions of personal temperament and developed a correlation between "tough-minded" and "tender-minded" temperaments and empiricist and rationalist positions in philosophy. Theories, he felt, are "instruments" that humans use to solve problems and should be judged in terms of their "cash value" or practical consequences for human conduct.

He developed the notion of truth as a "leading" that is useful: it can change as human experience changes. The morality, as well as the truth, of an idea or action should be judged, according to James, in a similar way -- in terms of its outcome in human experience. In The Will to Believe (1897) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), James examined the problem of belief in cases in which no immediate evidence exists on which to base one's belief. He concluded that in the area of religious commitment, belief can create its own truth through the effects created in the experience of the believer by his "willing nature." Belief in God is thus pragmatically justified if it makes a positive difference in the experience of the believer.
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