Unreal Nature

December 4, 2019

To Persist in My Being

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:05 am

… the necessity that causes my own existence and the whole of existence that I require, directly or indirectly, to persist in my being.

Continuing through The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism by Elizabeth Grosz (2017):

… In many ways modes are not clearly identified with things, but with what things do and have done to them, the manner of their existing with each other, which involves their causal interactions, but above all, in the relations of affect that link things, the capacity of things being transformed both in extension and in thought. This is quite close to the Stoic conception of lekta, the inherence of an excess, a sense, in things beyond their current state, the condition under which things change, the becoming of things, whether material or ideal, the conditions under which they can be thought and spoken.

… Bodies, like ideas, are made of mixtures. There is no clear and distinct idea on which to found knowledge (as Descartes believed). Ideas only become clear and distinct in their relations to other ideas. There is no bodily integrity in the sense of an unchanging continuity over time, only mixtures, ideas encountering each other and bodies affecting each other, each transforming and being transformed by its engagements. This conception of bodies and ideas as open forms of engagement, capable of being expanded or diminished, means that, in a strict sense, Spinoza can be understood neither as a materialist nor as an idealist.

… The more active the mind is in the constitution of adequate ideas, the greater its power becomes not in overcoming affects, as the Stoics suggest, but in enabling them to enhance our powers.

… Freedom is not “free choice,” the choice between existing objects or actions, nor is it the absence of causes, indetermination; it consists in understanding necessity, the necessity that causes my own existence and the whole of existence that I require, directly or indirectly, to persist in my being.

[line break added] From a knowledge of God or the universe itself to a knowledge of each particular thing, from top down, to the extent that our bodies have ordered and understood passions and maximized active affects, maximized our powers, by interaction with other bodies and other ideas, we attain a place, not only in history as a momentary event but in eternity as an adequate idea of essences, as it were, from the bottom up. Freedom is the freedom to act, encounter, enhance, learn, grow, make, do, with as many of those objects, material and conceptual, that agree with our natures as we are able.

My most recent previous post from Grosz’s book is here.

-Julie

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