Thursday, January 21, 2016

Nothing Outside But Everywhere

TLS December 18 & 25 2015

from Steven Nadler's review of Jon Miller's Spinoza and the Stoics:

Both Spinoza and the Stoics identified God with Nature and believed it to be the unique, immanent casual source of all things. Spinoza, however, rejects the Stoic idea that this "divine" power acts teleologically, and especially that it does what it does for the benefit of human beings. While the Stoics would agree with Spinoza that there is nothing outside of God or Nature that serves as a goal for its actions, Spinoza goes further and makes it absolutely clear that God (or Nature) does not act to achieve any ends or purposes whatsoever. 
With respect to moral psychology, Miller examines the striving for self-preservation that both the Stoics and Spinoza identify as the nature of any individual. He shows that, in fact, the ancient thinkers had the more complex view of this fundamental tendency, whereby it develops into an elevated pursuit of rationality and also leaves room for altruistically motivated actions; for Spinoza, on the other hand, actions are egotistically (or hedonistically) motivated. and the striving for self-preservation remains paramount throughout an individual's lifetime. 
Miller shows how both the Stoics and Spinoza are committed to the view that eudaimonia (variously translated as happiness, flourishing and living well, and consisting in the perfection of one's rational condition) is the summum bonum for human beings, even if there are differences regarding what such flourishing consists in.


TLS January 1 2016

from Carol Tavris's review of Laurence Scott's The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of being in the digital world:

""It's astonishing to think how in the last twenty years the limits and coherence of our bodies have been so radically redefined", he observes. "We have an everywhereness to us now that inevitably alters our relationship to those stalwart human aspects of self-containment, remoteness and isolation. ... But "everywhereness" takes a toll, "for it can make life feel both oppressively crowded and, when its promise is wasted, uniquely solitary"." 
""It has become part of the rhythms of almost every waking hour to look for a word or a sign from elsewhere". Because "everywhereness" demands a blurring of here and there, it "can produce a sense of absenteeism, and the suspicion that, despite being in many places at once, we're not fully inhabiting any of them"."

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