Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Despite Spinoza"

A nice interview of "America's Brainiest couple". I was wondering about the dedication too... (Related to this, there is passage in the book which I found really funny. She writes about Spinoza's views on sexual jealousy, which are quite vividly described and then speculates whether it was because he himself experienced it sometime but then she says that since his philosophy is all about a priori principles and logical deduction he didn't need any experience!)

Rebecca, the dedication in your Spinoza book reads, "For Steve, despite Spinoza." Can you explain that?

GOLDSTEIN: Spinoza wasn't a great fan of romantic love. He didn't think that the life of reason had any place for romantic love. And Spinoza's methodology is strictly reductive. He tries to prove everything, starting with definitions and axioms. And he has this rigorous proof that romantic love will always end badly.

Does that mean he did not experience romantic love himself?

GOLDSTEIN: He didn't, as far as we know. There are some rumors about his landlady's daughter, who went to another young man when he gave her a pearl necklace. But no, Spinoza's view about love is all directed toward love of truth and God and nature. It's not directed toward another person. To love another person is to want desperately for them to reciprocate. And that's not something we have complete control over. Therefore, it's irrational. He argues that romantic love just increases your fragility and vulnerability and therefore you ought not to do it.

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