Spinoza says that ALL things MUST happen exactly as they do because of everything that came before. We humans are a part of nature and not apart from it, and beholden to the same laws. That includes things like how you react to people who look different from you. Or what you will have for lunch tomorrow. Or who we vote for.
Spinoza’s philosophy, with its insistence that everything has already been determined and none of us has free will, gives rise to a lot of Really Big Questions.
This philosophy isn’t a cure, or at least, it hasn’t been yet. But it is a help. Especially, I find, with things that are far beyond my influence, such as the upcoming election. It’s comforting to find a way to let go of some of that anxiety. And that, at least, is something.
What is Spinoza’s G-d up to, anyway? What’s G-d good for, if not meddling about in the affairs of mankind? If G-d’s not going to help me on my upcoming statistics test, what the heck do I need a G-d for, anyhow?
Cause and effect is a law of the universe. No one questions it. No one, it is, until our big brains get in the way and ego gets involved. All of a sudden, the idea of free will enters the picture and the primacy of cause and effect flies out the window. Or does it? Let’s take a look.
In this series of posts, I’ll take a look at Spinoza’s concept of determinism and attempt to explain how it’s possible to balance it against an innate sense of self insisting we have free will.
What we might see as free will is just an illusion, Spinoza says. If you read this post, it’s because it was always in your nature to do so. If not, well, that was in your nature, too.