Conclusion: “Man Is God to Man”
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“Man Is God to Man”
Spinoza’s philosophy is governed by the assertion that God is one entirely comprehensive identity which can exist in distinction to nothing and can have nothing outside of itself. While this God (or Substance, or Nature) expresses itself through an infinite variety of attributes and in an infinite number of modes, this process of expression does not separate God from any of these modes or attributes (this expression is not the creation of something else). Human beings live happier, better lives to the extent that they realize that they are (already) a part of this divine totality, and come to see themselves not as individuals as such but rather as highly orchestrated movements or moments within God’s expression. When we understand that we are inevitably subject to the order that that expression produces, we learn the virtue of cognizant obedience and reject the notion that we could will for ourselves a “kingdom within a kingdom.” Further, Spinoza argues that such rational compliance produces love—for oneself, God, and the other parts of the world. Though there is certainly a strong sense that the degree to which the love of God, in Spinoza’s work, is intellectual, this intellectual love stems from and depends upon certain common notions that exist in all people. As religion promotes these fundamental, conceptual virtues it is itself a rational activity that ← 155 | 156 → brings human beings together in peace and virtue,...
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