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Shadows of Divine Things

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This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Benedict Spinoza on the Impassibility of God

Does any passion on the part of God involve change in His being? Here is what Spinoza says:
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Proposition (17): God is without passions, nor is he affected with any experience of joy (laetitia) or sadness (tristitia).

Demonstration: All ideas, in so far as they have reference to God, are true, that is, they are adequate: and therefore God is without passions (Deus expers est passionum). Again, God cannot pass to a higher or a lower perfection: and therefore he is affected with no emotion of joy or sadness.

Corollary: God, strickly speaking, loves no one nor hates any one. For God is affected with no emotion of joy or sadness, and consequently loves no one (neminem etiam amat) nor hates any one.
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Do you agree or disagree with Spinoza? Why?

3 Comments:

Blogger Patrik said...

Spinozas reasoning seems to be flawed, since he seems to think that what would be joy, sadness and love for God, is the same thing we call joy, sadness and love. Christian theology maintains that there is an analogy between human emotions such as these and what we mean with these words when we apply them to God.

Reasoning like Spinoza does here turnes God into a being like any thing else, and this is why we need to state that God is ontologically different. Or the being itself.

However, if Spinoza's point is to show the risk of antropomorphism when speaking about God, then he is right.

11:53 AM, June 03, 2006  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Patrik,
Thanks for the feedback. You're response is quite Thomistic. I agree with your assessment, I think Spinoza is confusing the ontological nature of God with our ontological nature and to do so would ultimately lead Spinboza to conclude the things he has in this post.

3:58 PM, June 04, 2006  
Anonymous Ashley said...

Of course, it depends on what you mean by impassability. If you mean passions alone, then no. God experiences no passions. If you mean affects altogether, then you may want to consult 5P36, where he writes, "The mind's intellectual love of God is the very love of God by which God loves himself, not insofar as he is infinite, but insofar as he can be explained by the human mind's essence, considered under a species of eternity; that is, the mind's intellectual love of God is the part of the infinite love by which God loves himself." So really, P17 is not the last word on that subject. Of course, we want to avoid anthropomorphism, as Patrick notes, but love is a very rich concept in Spinoza which cannot be reduced to the explanation of it in Part 4 of the Ethics. It plays a fundamental ontological role, which the passage I included alludes to. On this, I recommend Jeffrey Bernstein's article "Love and Friendship in Spinoza's Thinking," NASS Monograph, 9 (2000) 3-16.

6:04 PM, June 04, 2006  

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