Monday, May 15, 2017

Spinoza's Ethics Start a New Book Series of Classic Wisdom

Benedict Spinoza: Ethics, 292 pages, $20.

Moonrise Press has started a new book series of reprints of classic texts in English translation, entitled Classic Wisdom. The first volume in this series is Benedict Spinoza's Ethics. This is a reprint of a 19th century translation of "Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata" by Benedict de Spinoza (Baruch Spinoza, 1632-1677) first published in 1677. The  translation by William Hale White (1831-1913), published in 1883, was prepared for publication by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk.  The book is available in paperback and EPub ebook formats.

The book consists of five parts: I. Of God; II. Of The Nature and Origin of the Mind, III. Of The Origin and Nature of the Affects; IV. Of Human Bondage, or of the Strength of the Affects; And V. Of the Power of the Intellect, or Of Human Liberty.

Born in a Jewish-Portuguese family in Amsterdam in 1621, at 23, Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish community and is buried in a Christian Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague (he died at 44, in 1677). He was neither Jewish nor Christian in his views, and, from today’s perspective may be called one of the early Classics of Awakened Wisdom, aware of the intrinsic unity of the Universe with God, the Source of all.

A WORD OF THE PUBLISHER

The more things change, the more they stay the same. After taking a philosophy class way back in college and not caring one way or another for Spinoza whose geometric way of presenting his philosophical, religious, ethical, ontological and epistemological views did not appeal to me at all, I finally discovered his immensely significant, timeless wisdom and decided to share it by reprinting the Ethics in an 19th-century English translation by William Hale White, in convenient paperback and EBook formats. This is the first in our new reprint series, Classic Wisdom.

This wisdom is evident starting right in the first Part, on God: “PROP. XI. — God or substance consisting of infinite attributes, each one of which expresses eternal and infinite essence necessarily exists. PROP. XV. — Whatever is, is in God, and nothing can either be or be conceived without God.”

Thus, God by virtue of being infinite, cannot be outside of this world (transcendental), God has to be and is immanent, God is in everything that exists. Everything that exists is in God, i.e., Divine. This, of course, is a path straight to the modern understanding of the united Universe, permeated by the creative energy of its Source, the One Divine Being that is all in all. This of course, is not compatible with the dogmas and teachings of any temple or church that separate the One into Many, or cut-off the Divine Spirit from matter. What an amazing revolution, hidden in plain sight! To obfuscate things, Spinoza’s theories have been called “Philosophical Monism,” “Pantheistic” or “Rationalist” and engendering ideas that gave the birth to  Enlightenment.

Born in a Sephardic Jewish-Portuguese community in Amsterdam in 1621 (his ancestors excepted the Inquisition), he was expelled from the Jewish community at 23 years old, and is buried in the courtyard of a Christian Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague (he died at 44 years old in 1677). He was neither Jewish nor Christian in his views, and, from today’s perspective may be called one of the early Classics of Awakened Wisdom: the awakening is to the intrinsic unity of all that exist with God, the immortality of the human spirit, and the primacy of Love over all, Divine Light and Love guiding humans along their individual paths towards awakening, increased awareness and wisdom.

Philosophers love Spinoza for the elegance of his writings and the depth of his logical analysis of theorems and dogmas that he, time after time, proves absurd.  The book consists of five parts: I. Of God; II. Of The Nature and Origin of the Mind, III. Of The Origin and Nature of the Affects; IV. Of Human Bondage, or of the Strength of the Affects; and V. Of the Power of the Intellect, or Of Human Liberty.

Just like the ancient Gnostics, Pythagoras, Plotinus, Hermes Trismegistos ( many who wrote under his name), Giordano Bruno, and, to skip half a millennium, modern deep ecologists (Arne Dekke Eide Næss, and James Lovelock of the Gaia hypothesis), Spinoza found and shared the unified understanding of nature, humanity and divinity that dispels darkness, sorrows and doubts, while crowning the human being with the unperishable Divine Light that exists within. As he said: “The affect of Joy and its offspring increases the perfection of the mind and therefore is good; the affect of Sorrow and its offspring decreases the perfection of the mind and therefore is not good.” Thus, to seek Joy and intellectual Love that unites the seeker with the Divine is the ultimate goal of human life.

This idea reminds casual readers of the recently popular “The Secret” teaching millions about the power of  positive thinking, based on a premise that the “Universe” gives the individual an exact response to what that person thinks or feels like – the haters will be hated back and hurt, the lovers will be loved, the fearful –  scared, and  the joyous will have a lot more to en joy. Who knows how it really works, but there are many things worth doing less than reading Spinoza.

For convenience of those who did not grow up studying Latin, we added Arab numerals to the Propositions and other numbered lists. We also added more paragraph breaks to make the text easier to follow on the page. The  index, due to changed pagination, had to be redone, only the main entries were preserved, and additional items added. Finally, the title was changed to plural, Ethics, not Ethic as White had it, following the original.

Spinoza’s wisdom will reach you if you are patient and read this volume with a discerning mind.

Enjoy!

~ Maja Trochimczyk

Benedict Spinoza, Ethics: An Outline, edited by Maja Trochimczyk
156 pages, $12, paperback

This is an abridged reprint in gender-neutral language of a 19th century translation of "Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata" by Benedict de Spinoza (Baruch Spinoza, 1632-1677) first published in 1677. The 1883 translation by William Hale White (1831-1913), was rendered gender-neutral by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk. This second volume of Moonrise Press's Classic Wisdom Book Series, consists of five parts: I. Of God; II. Of The Nature and Origin of the Mind, III. Of The Origin and Nature of the Affects; IV. Of Human Bondage, or of the Strength of the Affects. And V. Of The Power of the Intellect, or Of Human Liberty.

The Editor writes about the purpose of the shortened version as follows:

"For convenience of those who did not grow up studying Latin, we added Arab numerals to the Propositions and other numbered lists. We also added more paragraph breaks to make the text easier to follow on the page. The  index, due to changed pagination, had to be redone, only the main entries were preserved, and additional items added. Finally, the title was changed to plural, Ethics, not Ethic as White had it, following the original. Spinoza’s wisdom will reach you if you are patient and read this volume with a discerning mind. In this abbreviated version, we took out most of the scholastic arguments about the nature and attributes of God, substances, and the like. Instead, we kept all the conclusions and lessons about ethical living, affection, and virtues, because of their practical applications."

"For practical use as a guide to ethical life, the demonstrations and arguments why the Propositions are true are not needed. But it is important to easily number and find them, as well as to be able to read it and apply to a personal life, whether the reader is a man or a woman. In accordance with the principles of gender-neutral language that does not discriminate against women, the use of “man/men” was replaced with “human being,” “person” and “people” throughout. Similarly, since God in Spinoza’s concept is not a male, the pronouns He and His have been replaced throughout by God and God’s respectively. This infinite, eternal Being that is immanent in the Universe is the same Being as that known in Awakened circles as Father-Mother-God, or Source, or the One. The use of just the word “God” is more convenient in this case."

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