Tag Archives: Spinoza

On Human Nature

Discourse on human nature tends to focus on those natural characteristics which appear to distinguish humans from other forms of life. The general theme is usually anthropocentric and goes something like “that which makes us different is that which defines our humanity.”  While comparing differences is informative in some contexts, it is an exercise that is too often undertaken as a means to demonstrate a special, preordained standing in nature for mankind and moral supremacy.  In fact, the essence of human nature is not that which sets us apart from or above other forms of life, but those characteristics which we share in a common evolutionary history.

It is along this continuum that core human operational modules — such as survival, socialization, and the pursuit of happiness — have developed by natural selection.  Thus, it is from the broad perspective of unity and inclusion that human nature is best described and from which an understanding of morality may be gained.

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The Writ of Cherum Against Spinoza

Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677)

On July 27, 1656 the Jewish community issued the writ of cherum against Baruch Spinoza — its harshest form of excommunication.  The language of the writ is unusually harsh, but it does not state with certainty the reasons for its issuance.  According to philosopher and Spinoza biographer, Steven Nadler, it is likely that the writ was issued because Spinoza “was giving utterance to just those ideas that would soon appear in his philosophical treatises.  In those works, Spinoza denies the immortality of the soul; strongly rejects the notion of a providential God — the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and claims that the Law was neither literally given by God nor any longer binding on Jews.  Can there be any mystery as to why one of history’s boldest and most radical thinkers was sanctioned by an orthodox Jewish community?”

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An Appeal for Pantheism

Current models of recovery emphasize a holistic approach to treatment in an effort to address all aspects of the disease of addiction which include the physical; the mental/emotional; and the spiritual components.  Treatment methods geared at promoting abstinence through cognitive/behavioral therapies are widely accepted as necessary and effective in recovery.  On the other hand, treatment approaches which also incorporate spiritual growth and development give rise to much controversy and confusion.

In recovery meetings, spirituality and religion are sometimes difficult to distinguish.

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