Role of God in Spinozas Metaphysics (Continuum Studies In Philosophy)

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We describe insights from four such traditions selected not because of the particular clarity or authority with which these traditions speak, but because these are the ones with which the authors are most familiar from personal first person practice or through academic study of first person reports. What all of these share is that first person experiences point to what we would describe as an underlying, monistic, non-dual Fundamental Awareness.

They are not the only formulations found in the larger diversity of metaphysical traditions in the world; indeed, even within single communities of belief, these experiences may be explained or described differently. Nonetheless, we find the commonalities between these different perspectives—and their resonance with our own personal experiences—to present a compelling case bearing the above caveats in mind for Fundamental Awareness as a framework for the nature of consciousness in the universe and the relationship between them.

Many Indian philosophical systems trace their origin to the ancient Vedas; in particular there is Vedanta. Within Vedanta there is Advaita Vedanta, which means non-dual Vedanta, perhaps the best-known school of non-duality, wherein Atman the individual and Brahman the Absolute are the same. It does not deny objective reality, but instead means that a separate reality from the experience of consciousness is non-existent. To see the world as independent and separate from the Self Brahman , is an illusion as it ultimately denies the very existence of Brahman, the non-dual, monistic ground of existence.

This detail is in line with western scientific and philosophical approaches. As Citi, the creative energy of the Absolute Being, unfolds the universe without need of any substance other than Herself as pure Awareness, She the Creatrix of the universe is the ultimate source of all created manifestations, all objects, and all experiences of the subjective individual selves. As such, She is also the source of the mind.

The dynamical aspect of Awareness, Citi, gives rise to countless beings and countless worlds.

Philosophy of Baruch Spinoza

However, a particular thread of discernment came with the development of Lurianic Kabbalah, the 16 th century mystical tradition and practice system developed by Isaac Luria and his associates and disciples. Berzin describes this:.


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The subtlest level of mental activity Mind , which continues with no beginning and no end, without any break, even during death and even into Buddhahood. It is individual and constitutes the mental continuum of each Being.

It is naturally free of conceptual cognition, the appearance-making of true existence, and grasping for true existence, since it is more subtle than the grosser levels of mental activity with which these occur. It is named the Light. The essential nature of rigpa: primal purity. Rigpa is primordaly without stains, both being self-void and other-void;. The influencing nature of rigpa: the manner in which rigpa influences others. Rigpa is responsiveness. It responds effortlessly and spontaneously to others with compassion;.

The first of these reflects Rigpa's non-dual nature.

The third reflects the spontaneous way in which it gives rise to the phenomenal world, i. Thus, what we propose here, Fundamental Awareness, begins with these primary axioms:. The substratum of existence is Fundamental Awareness, i. How to define Fundamental Awareness immediately becomes a question for which, necessarily, all answers are inherently insufficient.

As Fundamental Awareness is non-dual, any attempt to make a complete linguistic or mathematically formal system to define and describe it will inevitably contradict itself or, conversely, any consistent description, with words or mathematics, will necessarily be incomplete. And therefore, we would suggest, it can only be truly known experientially as through metaphysical practices rather than conceptually through empirical science or philosophy.

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Nonetheless, we must try. Some associated statements considered as refinements or commentaries then follow:. This primary symmetry breaking results in the dualistic phenomenal universe with the emanation of space-time, matter and energy. The emergence of the dualistic universe from the non-dual Fundamental Awareness is characterized, at the first and all subsequent levels of scale, by process as creative intra -activity in non-local scales, as creative inter -activity at higher, material scales, and as sentience in biological systems , complementarity and recursion Fig.

The initial emanation of space and time, matter and energy that comprise both the initiating events Big Bang of the universe as well as its moment by moment maintenance represent the initiation of duality in contrast to the substratum of non-duality. This is complementarity, in Bohr's sense of the term, and one core principle of Fundamental Awareness, i. One might ask, of course, whether this is truly fundamental because prior to the initiating symmetry break there is, by definition, no ability to assign qualities to the non-dual awareness, including complementarity.

However, what pre-exists the initiating symmetry break is also therefore beyond description and, de facto, to describe it we are already an observer that has arisen from it. Our presence to interrogate its nature necessarily implies that this non-dual pure awareness is in complementarity with the dual, phenomenal universe. Thus complementarity is fundamental in this sense. At the Planck scale we still do not have a clear understanding of the nature of existence, though terms often applied with varying degrees of precision are quantum vacuum and quantum foam.

The smallest entities that arise at this smallest scale, inclusive of quanta of space and time, of energy and therefore matter, in whatever form[s] it manifests at this scale , interact with each other giving rise to acts of creation, to higher level, emergent structures. We refer to this as process with scale and self-organizational subclasses to be further defined, below. These higher level structures e. Thus, these three principles—complementarity, process, and recursion—are seen operating together, working within and throughout the unified whole, the holarchy, of the cosmos and of its component parts, in many different ways, in the purely physical and biological realms.

The concept of complementarity was first expressed for QM in Bohr's Como lectures. Essentially, quantum phenomena exhibit complementary aspects that are revealed by specific observational modes or perspectives, i. Interestingly, it is often forgotten that Bohr also felt that complementarities existed at higher levels of scale, including the biological and cosmological realms. We have described similar quantum-like complementarities in all larger scale structures.

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At these levels, relativity or QM, has to be brought in. In fact, the whole exists not at any single level of scale, nor in a hierarchy of systems, but, to use Koestler's term, 48 as a holarchy , a holistic quantum-like superposition of all levels of scale. Thus, the bait ball of fish, described above; our bodies which are comprised of human and non-human cells. At the nanoscopic scale, cells themselves disappear from view to reveal atoms and molecules self-organizing in aqueous suspension. No single scale of observation can reveal the whole; at the moment selection is made of a scale of observation, the features of other levels of scale are hidden from view.

And such a holarchy privileges no particular scale as prime over any other. Similarly, at cosmological scales, the horizons of knowledge are defined by the scale of the universe the so-called Hubble radius and the age of the universe the Hubble age. It is important to emphasize the role of observation when a horizon of knowledge is approached: Whereas far away from such a horizon, the behavior of objects is well described by an existing single perspective, as the limits of observation are reached, a single perspective cannot work anymore. On this basis, Kafatos and Nadeau as well as others have argued that the fine tuning in the universe cannot be understood until the observer is fully brought into the picture.

We also emphasize that no scale dependent or perspective dependent view is prioritized or privileged over any other. They all have equal value, weight, or importance within the larger whole. Whatever hierarchy is presented, it is contextual and dependent on observational choices.

The Philosophy of Spinoza & Leibniz

As such , all complementarities exist in superposition. Alternate, complementary models are always necessary for successful capture of all the qualities of the entire system. Given that the entire cosmos reflects a holarchy which can at least hypothetically be modeled as such, however vast it is, complementarity is always, at every scale and within every scale, an irreducible feature.

II. Three constraints on the type of account that Spinoza can offer

As noted, implicit in our understanding of the universe as a holarchy of self-organizing systems is that the entities comprising these systems, from quantum foam to cosmological scales, can interact with each other and thereby self-organize, giving rise to emergent structures at higher levels of scale. Thus, they are both interactive and creative. In this way, non-dual awareness gives rise to a dynamic, ever changing universe that is neither inert nor insentient i. Broadly, we would consider this creative interactivity to be largely the same as that described by Alfred North Whitehead and, thus, choose the word process to describe the general class of these activities.

Thus, we would now apply three terms to these processes based on the scale of entities described and the nature of self-organization whereby entities produce new, emergent phenomena: creative intra-activity , creative inter-activity , and sentience. In the quantum realm meaning elements of the quantum foam and the tiers of subatomic particles of the Standard Model non-locality pertains, so that while, as particles, each of the entities participating in the self-organizing may be considered a well-defined, i.

The environment is internal; the internal is environment. Non-locality leads these aspects to be complementary to each other.

Spinoza and the Problem of Freedom | IWM

Thus, we chose intra-activity to describe this form of process. Comparison of complexity concepts of the universe with corresponding Buddhist concepts. As we move into higher levels of scale, such as those at which we find atoms and molecules, entities start to become more bounded. We are at the transition between the quantum realm and the classical world, a boundary which is arbitrary in the view of von Neumann.


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The external, while still extending as an infinite wave function with ever more distant, potential electron shells, their probability becomes rapidly minimized. Even more so for molecules and larger scale aggregates of molecules. In all of these systems, the stochasticity of information processing is that of the quenched disorder of the quantum world. The primary mediators at this level of scale are weak and strong forces in the organization of nuclei and electromagnetism for evolution of electron shells and molecule associated electron clouds Fig.

Biomolecules, depending on the species, include molecules such as neurotransmitters, hormones, antibodies, leptins, etc. Cells may belong to organisms e. Table adapted from Theise and Kafatos Atoms and molecules can then begin to self-organize in two different ways. Electromagnetism continues, of course, to be of primary relevance, though gravity now becomes a truly dominant effect Figs. This takes place when ions, molecules and biomolecules begin to self-organize in the liquid environments aqueous environments on earth, at least in which life arises.

Thus defined, sentience is not separate from the physical nature of the system, it is not something between or above or underlying the components of the system, it is the process itself occurring between the component parts as expressed at the level of the whole Fig. We are left with some interesting possibilities for reframing old questions. We would note, too, that these seeming boundaries are merely a reflection of complementarities between scales as we have previously emphasized, having no truly inherent existence.