I find my thoughts drifting less and less towards philosophy, Bento. I did feel bad about this for a while, but then I more or less reconciled myself to it. Philosophy requires contemplation, and there is little room in my life for contemplation at the moment. Rather, I am geared towards action, more specifically, actions that will help me survive and prosper in the extreme circumstances of the current moment. I rather like this, I have to admit. It is simple and direct. While the process is complex (lots of financial models and the like), the goal itself is not. Rather like hunting a mammoth, I imagine, which is what after all our pale cro magnon forefathers evolved to do.
In this type of existenial activity, this modern mammoth hunting, then, we are still close to ourselves, our conatus, our true nature. Sticking to what we are and being as much of it as possible, this is what Spinoza suggests we do to attain happiness. I have evolved as a thinking machine, and it is in thinking that I am doing, if you see what I mean. Just as dogs are woofing machines, and are happiest when woofing, and lions probably cheer up when they sink their claws into zebras on the hoof. Though “evolved” may be an anachronism; I have often wondered how Spinoza’s ideas would have changed (if at all) had he somehow managed to read Darwin.
So I tell myself I am not in fact “betraying Spinoza” by abandoning philosophy temporarily (although I have started reading Montaigne who is like totally the first ever blogger, Bento, it is quite incredible); I am using the same tools, the same critical faculties that I need for thinking “deep” thoughts about Spinoza, to think about how to keep my job. Paradoxically I have a job which is 95% thought (which stocks to buy?) and 5% action (actually buying the stupid things, and making tea). If I was a lumberjack things might be different. It may look like I have completely contradicted what I said in the 1st paragraph of this post, but I don’t feel like I have – for me thought really is action, or rather, my current thought is action-oriented.
Not so for the subject of this post, the amazing KVOND, the blogger you told me about, Bento. His is a fundamental contemplative Spinozism to the extent of actually working out how to grind lenses! Kvond even has a theory that the Huygens microscope, based on some type of bead lens, if I have this right, was somehow snaffled from Spinoza’s estate, implying that if he had lived longer we may be thanking Spinoza for a lot of microbiology as well as his philosophical contribution. He understands (or seems to) detail like this:
This reported Spinoza lens is much shorter in focal length than three known to have been made in 1686 by Constantijn: w/ diameters 195, 210 and 230 mm, and w/ focal lengths of 122, 170 and 210 ft.; each ”made from the same very poor glass – a heterogeneous and discoloured potash-rich, but essentially lead-free `forest glass’.”
This is seriously cool, of course.
It is very different from our little endeavour here, a good thing. kvond’s more philosophical posts tend to have an quite Wittgensteinian tilt, not necessarily something I can get my head around, and I detect a more literary focus to his posts. I feel they are more about inner life, while ours tend to be more current affairs-focsed, very outwards-looking. Baldly put, his is the Spinoza of the Ethics, ours the Treatise.
We are both, I think, very happy to find another up-to-date Spinoza focused blog, are we not?