Alfred Rosenberg on the couch. The Spinoza Problem by Irvin Yalom opens up the old debate as to how can one reconcile reason and revelation given that both are imbued with some unsatisfactory elements. Maimonides made a valiant stab to show that scripture and reason are not in conflict, nor mutually exclusive though not entirely compatible, uneasy, like Glen Gould playing contrapuntal Bach. Still, the idea that all of philosophy or faith is entirely compatible is bunk. After all, for two millennia there is no means of demonstrating the basic essence of religion: the existence of god. The idea may be appealing, but unviable solutions cannot solve a problem hemmed in by limitations in human intellect. Reason and revelation antagonize creating cognitive dissonance instead of a true contradiction which allows nihilists like Rosenberg and religious fanatics to filter through the cracks with violence based ideologies and death cults.
Spinoza taught an intellectual love for his God, a God himself dispassionate, unwelcoming and cold; a passive-aggressive in an abstract sense. An inscrutable god that only the intellectual sophisticated could even fathom doused with a contempt for his fellow Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary garden-variety citizen. The antithesis of the Jews weeping at the destruction of the Temple or of Jesus’s love of Jerusalem. Spinoza was a kind of Eichmann of ideas, shipping thoughts by rail and organizing the mass transit of feeling towards their incineration in death camps. Clinical, rational, mathematical. The prototype of the austere revolutionary and canonized as a philosophical saint that even a Heidegger could wax over as a phenomenon of the banality of evil, morally respectsble but fundamentally flawed who could make no distinction between night and day.
It is difficult not to be ambivalent about Spinoza, as if secularism was a new religion buttressed by his assertions on denying that any explanations for the mental can be attributed to physical clauses, or that the physical world can be characterized in the realm of ideas. The idea of mind and body being mutually independent without interaction seems like a venture into fantasy land or Timothy Leary and out of body experience. There is no Para in the Normal. The most intriguing part of Yalom’s Spinoza Problem” is that through psychoanalysis we can chart and analyze emotions, fears, traumas etc. but we can’t figure out why many are called but few are chosen: it is hardly greatness why a loser philosopher like Rosenberg or a mental case like Hitler ended up being immortalized and for that matter one could add Mao, Einstein, Picasso, and countless others who are more puppets of forces we can’t grasp that paragons of free-will. All that left is speculation on the who-what-when-where- and why’s.
(see link at end)…Actually, two famous men appear in “The Spinoza Problem.” One is the 17th century philosopher Baruch (or Bento) Spinoza, a descendant of Sephardic Jews who sought refuge from the Inquisition in Amsterdam. Spinoza was famously ex-communicated by his congregation when his bold rationalism prompted him to raise questions about the authorship of the Bible and the nature of God. Today, he is recognized as one of the commanding figures of Western philosophy, even if the cherem (censure) against him has never been revoked.
The other historical figure is Alfred Rosenberg, one of the crackpots who achieved a position of power in Nazi Germany, where he served as “the intellectual high priest of the ‘master race,’ ” according to his prosecutor at Nuremberg, “who provided the doctrine of hatred which gave the impetus for the annihilation of Jewry.” Rosenberg ended up on the gallows for his role as one of Hitler’s cronies and servitors. One of Rosenberg’s many obsessions, as Yalom discovered, was Spinoza, and the great philosopher’s library ended up in his possession during the war…. continued
Spinoza’s God is “nature” in all its glory, seemingly indifferent to us and to which an intellectual love has to be egged on,quite the opposite of the idea that god loves each of us; given the fanaticism that religion can take and the power it weilds, a transfusion of Spinoza can be a tempering palliative. Ths Spinoza idea which denies a connection between mind and body sets up an eternal intellectua voyage on the nature of thoughts influencing other thoughts and the same for objects: the determinate model tht stopped at death, the non-existent next life that negates immortality and prays at the alter of reason alone. As a teacher, a sage of reality he certainly practised his own wisdom with the austerity of Lucretius living a barrel. Exemplary in a stoic, dour, alienated and self-marginalized manner. In short, not a particularly happy soul.
(the continuation)…Rosenberg, by contrast, is shown to move away from rationalism in the direction of a crude and murderous anti-Semitism. “Alfred, we all love to hate the Jews,” says one of his acquaintances, who happens to be a psychiatrist, “but you do it with such … such intensity.” Indeed, the young Rosenberg chooses action over thought: “Can you use a fighter against Jerusalem?” he asks when he joins the Nazi party. “I am dedicated, and I will fight until I drop.” His weapon? “My words are my arrows!”
“The Spinoza Problem,” as we soon discover, exists for both Spinoza himself and for Rosenberg. Spinoza is forced to d
Ironically, according to the tale Yalom has invented, Rosenberg seeks to resolve the paradox in therapy, even though he denounces psychoanalysis as a Jewish invention….Read More:http://www.jewishjournal.com/twelve_twelve/article/psychotherapy_and_philosophy_intersect_in_spinoza_problem_20120307
Though he avoided Christianity, Spinoza did appear to pay heed to its cultural customs and slanders against the Jewish faith. The paragon of rationality and rationalism either bore a grudge or was exercising a degree of self-hatred in an attitude towards the “yidden” whereby he elevated Jesus to above the status of Moses in an act of his own personal ethnic cleansing. The angry, hostile young man archetype burning under his icy sublimity.
What Spinoza proposed was a major break from the solution of Maimonides, one that trashed the divinity of the Old Teastmanet and the Oral Law in which no one who adheres to revelation could accept. To Spinoza, religion had only a practical and utilitarian function, and like Rosenberg saw, a political function open to various fads and vagaries in which man-made reason would be golden road to happiness and an intellectually manipulated love of god or substitute that idolatry could serve up at regular intervals. In short, religion to Spinoza is a tool, a compelling factor in getting the ignorant masses to coexist since they are unable to arrive at a tolerable level of reason to do so.
(see link at end)…This is an interesting distinction to make for those reading Spinoza, for Spinoza too walked carefully between an embrace of a concrete “here” and yet always the necessary appeal to what lies outside of it “there”. And while it is typical to read early and later Wittgenstein as radical break, this sense of “lying outside”, perhaps ecstatically so, can be read as a continuation of a kind. And while Rationalist interpreations of Spinoza are plentiful, it has come under consideration recently that he actually places the linguistic and the mathematical largely in the realm of the imagination; when one studies him one sees him constantly pointing outward to the border of cognition. Perhaps it could be said that what distinguished early Wittgenstein from later was the way in which he collapsed the two worlds into the one world, making “nothing hidden”, an operation that Spinoza seemed to carry out in the writing of the Ethics, broken as it was in half by the interruption of the Tractatus Theologio-Politicus. Read More:http://kvond.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/wittgensteins-mysticism-one-world-or-two/