Feb 202014


Flower Power

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”  Matthew 5:43-44

Boy, if there was ever a case of ‘easier said than done.’

I have to actually love my enemies?  Even if that’s the weakest sense of love we can think of, it’s still a big ask.  I don’t just have to forgive them for doing me wrong, I have to love them for it.  From experience, it seems like bad feelings about people who have wronged me take a while to even soften, and there doesn’t seem like much I can do to speed that process up.  Even then, not having bad feelings about someone is still a long way from loving them.

Maybe that’s just a best case scenario though.  Jesus Christ is a moral exemplar par excellance.  Perhaps Christianity doesn’t require us to love our enemies, so much as tell us that’s what we should aspire to.  After all, the kind of hatred I feel for my worst personal or political enemies seems to be involuntary.  If I can’t help doing something, it seems a little unfair to require me to do it.

Oh, hang on; what’s this a few chapters earlier?

Continue reading »

Sep 162010

Wes referred in our Spinoza discussion to Antonio Damasio, a figure in neuroscience influenced by Spinoza. Here he describes the emotions’ role in decision-making:

Watch on youtube: http://youtu.be/1wup_K2WN0I

Spinoza agrees that decision-making is based on emotion. Even a “rational” decision, i.e. one made in a calm manner by considering the alternatives, requires an emotional component to actually choose a path and move forward.


Sep 102010

Discussing Books II through V of the Ethics. Continues the discussion from Ep. 24.

What is the relation between mind and body? How do we know things? What are the emotions? Is there an ethical ideal for us to shoot for? What is our relationship to God?

Our rational nature prevails over urges to scream, sleep, or slap each other as we plow to the end of this strange and thorny text.

Read a free version online or purchase the book.

End song: “When I Think of You” from The MayTricks’ Happy Songs Will Bring You Down (1994).