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Baruch Spinoza

Date de naissance: 24. novembre 1632
Date de décès: 21. février 1677
Autres noms: Baruch de Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza, également connu sous les noms de Baruch d'Espinoza d'après sa signature, Bento de Espinosa ou Benedictus de Spinoza, né le 24 novembre 1632 à Amsterdam et mort le 21 février 1677 à La Haye, est un philosophe néerlandais d'origine ibérique dont la pensée eut une influence considérable sur ses contemporains et nombre de penseurs postérieurs.

Issu d'une famille juive marrane portugaise ayant fui l'Inquisition, Spinoza fut un héritier critique du cartésianisme. Il prit ses distances vis-à-vis de toute pratique religieuse, mais non envers la réflexion théologique, grâce à ses nombreux contacts interreligieux. Après sa mort, le spinozisme connut une influence durable et fut largement mis en débat. L'œuvre de Spinoza entretient en effet une relation critique avec les positions traditionnelles des religions révélées que constituent le judaïsme, le christianisme et l'islam.

Si sa doctrine repose sur une définition de Dieu, suivie d'une démonstration de son existence et de son unicité et propose une religion rationnelle, Spinoza fut à tort couramment compris comme un auteur athée et irréligieux. En effet, ses conceptions théologiques qui relèvent du panthéisme, mais aussi sa conception historiciste de la rédaction de la Bible, tendent à s'opposer aux dogmes religieux de la transcendance divine et d'une révélation surnaturelle.

Gilles Deleuze le surnommait le « Prince des philosophes », tandis que Nietzsche le qualifiait de « précurseur », notamment en raison de son refus de la téléologie. D'après Hegel, « Spinoza est un point crucial dans la philosophie moderne. L'alternative est : Spinoza ou pas de philosophie. »

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Baruch Spinoza

Citations Baruch Spinoza

„Mais il est des gens qui croient que la fiction est limitée par la fiction, et non par l'intelligence; c'est-à-dire qu'après avoir feint une chose, et avoir affirmé, par un acte libre de la volonté, l'existence de cette chose, déterminée d'une certaine manière dans la nature, il ne nous est plus possible de la concevoir autrement. Par exemple, après avoir feint (pour parler leur langage) que la nature du corps est telle ou telle, il ne m'est plus permis de feindre une mouche infinie; après avoir feint l'essence de l'âme, il ne m'est plus permis d'en faire un carré, etc.
Cela a besoin d'être examiné. D'abord, ou bien ils nient, ou bien ils accordent que nous pouvons comprendre quelque chose. L'accordent-ils; ce qu'ils disent de la fiction, ils devront nécessairement le dire aussi de l'intelligence. Le nient-ils; voyons donc, nous qui savons que nous savons quelque chose, ce qu'ils disent. Or, voici ce qu'ils disent : l'âme est capable de sentir et de percevoir de plusieurs manières, non pas elle-même, non pas les choses qui existent, mais seulement les choses qui ne sont ni en elle-même ni ailleurs : en un mot, l'âme, par sa seule vertu, peut créer des sensations, des idées, sans rapport avec les choses, à ce point qu'ils la considèrent presque comme un dieu. Ils disent donc que notre âme possède une telle liberté qu'elle a le pouvoir et de nous contraindre et de se contraindre elle-même et de contraindre jusqu'à sa liberté elle-même. En effet, lorsque l'âme a feint quelque chose et qu'elle a donné son assentiment à cette fiction, il ne lui est plus possible de se représenter ou de feindre la même chose d'une manière différente; et en outre, elle se trouve condamnée à se représenter toutes choses de façon qu'elles soient en accord avec la fiction primitive. C'est ainsi que nos adversaires se trouvent obligés par leur propre fiction d'accepter toutes les absurdités qu'on vient d'énumérer, et que nous ne prendrons pas la peine de combattre par des démonstrations.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

On the Improvement of the Understanding

„He fell well short of mastering the art of demonstration; he had only a mediocre knowledge of analysis and geometry; what he knew best was to make lenses for microscopes.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, letter to Count Ernst von Hessen-Rheinfels (Aug. 14, 1683) in Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe (1923-) II.ii. p. 535, as translated by Matthew Stewart, The Courtier and the Heretic (2006) pp. 228-229.
Contexte: Regarding Spinoza, whom M. Arnauld has called the most impious and most dangerous man of this century, he was truly an Atheist, [i. e., ] he allowed absolutely no Providence dispensing rewards and punishments according to justice.... The God he puts on parade is not like ours; he has no intellect or will.... He fell well short of mastering the art of demonstration; he had only a mediocre knowledge of analysis and geometry; what he knew best was to make lenses for microscopes.

„When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is ; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished ; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Letter 56 (60), to Hugo Boxel (1674) http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1711&chapter=144218&layout=html&Itemid=27
Contexte: When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped.
The briefness of a letter and want of time do not allow me to enter into my opinion on the divine nature, or the questions you have propounded. Besides, suggesting difficulties is not the same as producing reasons. That we do many things in the world from conjecture is true, but that our redactions are based on conjecture is false. In practical life we are compelled to follow what is most probable; in speculative thought we are compelled to follow truth. A man would perish of hunger and thirst, if he refused to eat or drink, till he had obtained positive proof that food and drink would be good for him. But in philosophic reflection this is not so. On the contrary, we must take care not to admit as true anything, which is only probable. For when one falsity has been let in, infinite others follow.
Again, we cannot infer that because sciences of things divine and human are full of controversies and quarrels, therefore their whole subject-matter is uncertain; for there have been many persons so enamoured of contradiction, as to turn into ridicule geometrical axioms.

„My opinion concerning God differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by modern Christians. For I hold that God is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg , November (1675) http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1711&chapter=144137&layout=html&Itemid=27
Contexte: My opinion concerning God differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by modern Christians. For I hold that God is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient. I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul, and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different; I will even venture to affirm that I agree with all the ancient Hebrews, in so far as one may judge from their traditions, though these are in many ways corrupted. The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus the unity of God and Nature (meaning by the latter a certain mass or corporeal matter), is wholly erroneous.
As regards miracles, I am of opinion that the revelation of God can only be established by the wisdom of the doctrine, not by miracles, or in other words by ignorance.

„God's will is eternal, and has never been indifferent; hence… the world is a necessary effect of the divine nature.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Letter to Hugo Boxel (Oct. 1674) The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza https://books.google.com/books?id=Nz1kRKDMbUMC (1891) Tr. R. H. M. Elwes, Vol. 2, Letter 58 (54).
Contexte: This impels me, before going into your reasons, to set forth briefly my opinion on the question, whether the world was made by chance. But I answer, that as it is clear that chance and necessity are two contraries, so is it also clear, that he, who asserts the world to be a necessary effect of the divine nature, must utterly deny that the world has been made by chance; whereas, he who affirms that God need not have made the world, confirms, though in different language, the doctrine that it has been made by chance; inasmuch as he maintains that it proceeds from a wish, which might never have been formed. However, as this opinion and theory is on the face of it absurd, it is commonly very unanimously admitted, that God's will is eternal, and has never been indifferent; hence... the world is a necessary effect of the divine nature. Let them call it will, understanding, or any name they like, they come at last to the same conclusion, that under different names they are expressing one and the same thing. If you ask them, whether the divine will does not differ from the human, they answer, that the former has nothing in common with the latter except its name; especially as they generally admit that God's will, understanding, intellect, essence, and nature are all identical; so I... lest I... confound the divine nature with the human, do not assign to God human attributes, such as will, understanding, attention, hearing, &c. I therefore say, as I have said already, that the world is a necessary effect of the divine nature, and that it has not been made by chance. I think this is enough to persuade you, that the opinion of those (if such there be) who say that the world has been made by chance, is entirely contrary to mine; and relying on this hypothesis, I proceed to examine those reasons which lead you to infer the existence of all kinds of ghosts.<!--pp. 381-382

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„If I had as clear an idea of ghosts, as I have of a triangle or a circle, I should not in the least hesitate to affirm that they had been created by God; but as the idea I possess of them is just like the ideas, which my imagination forms“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Letter to Hugo Boxel (Oct. 1674) The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza (1891) Tr. R. H. M. Elwes, Vol. 2, Letter 58 (54).
Contexte: If I had as clear an idea of ghosts, as I have of a triangle or a circle, I should not in the least hesitate to affirm that they had been created by God; but as the idea I possess of them is just like the ideas, which my imagination forms of harpies, gryphons, hydras, &c., I cannot consider them as anything but dreams, which differ from God as totally as that which is not differs from that which is.<!--pp. 382-383

„In the state of nature, wrong-doing is impossible ; or, if anyone does wrong, it is to himself, not to another.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Ch. 2, Of Natural Right
Political Treatise (1677)
Contexte: In the state of nature, wrong-doing is impossible; or, if anyone does wrong, it is to himself, not to another. For no one by the law of nature is bound to please another, unless he chooses, nor to hold anything to be good or evil, but what he himself, according to his own temperament, pronounces to be so; and, to speak generally, nothing is forbidden by the law of nature, except what is beyond everyone's power.<!-- 23

„Bruno and Spinoza are to be entirely excepted. Each stands by himself and alone“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Arthur Schopenhauer, in The World as Will and Representation (1818; 1844), Vol. I, p. 422, n. 2
Contexte: [From Schopenhauer's assessments of other philosophers] Bruno and Spinoza are to be entirely excepted. Each stands by himself and alone; and they do not belong either to their age or to their part of the globe, which rewarded the one with death, and the other with persecution and ignominy. Their miserable existence and death in this Western world are like that of a tropical plant in Europe. The banks of the Ganges were their spiritual home; there, they would have led a peaceful and honoured life among men of like mind.

„Philosophers conceive of the passions which harass us as vices into which men fall by their own fault, and, therefore, generally deride, bewail, or blame them, or execrate them, if they wish to seem unusually pious.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Ch. 1, Introduction; section 1
Political Treatise (1677)
Original: (la) Affectus, quibus conflictamur, concipiunt philosophi veluti vitia, in quae homines sua culpa labuntur; quos propterea ridere, flere, carpere vel (qui sanctiores videri volunt) detestari solent. Sic ergo se rem divinam facere, et sapientiae culmen attingere credunt, quando humanam naturam, quae nullibi est, multis modis laudare et eam, quae revera est, dictis lacessere norunt. Homines namque non ut sunt, sed ut eosdem esse vellent, concipiunt; unde factum est, ut plerumque pro e t h i c a satyram scripserint, et ut nunquam p o l i t i c a m conceperint, quae possit ad usum revocari; sed quae pro chimaera haberetur, vel quae in Utopia vel in illo poëtarum aureo saeculo, ubi scilicet minime necesse erat, institui potuisset. Cum igitur omnium scientiarum, quae usum habent, tum maxime p o l i t i c e s t h e o r i a ab ipsius p r a x i discrepare creditur, et regendae reipublicae nulli minus idonei aestimantur, quam theoretici seu philosophi.
Contexte: Philosophers conceive of the passions which harass us as vices into which men fall by their own fault, and, therefore, generally deride, bewail, or blame them, or execrate them, if they wish to seem unusually pious. And so they think they are doing something wonderful, and reaching the pinnacle of learning, when they are clever enough to bestow manifold praise on such human nature, as is nowhere to be found, and to make verbal attacks on that which, in fact, exists. For they conceive of men, not as they are, but as they themselves would like them to be. Whence it has come to pass that, instead of ethics, they have generally written satire, and that they have never conceived a theory of politics, which could be turned to use, but such as might be taken for a chimera, or might have been formed in Utopia, or in that golden age of the poets when, to be sure, there was least need of it. Accordingly, as in all sciences, which have a useful application, so especially in that of politics, theory is supposed to be at variance with practice; and no men are esteemed less fit to direct public affairs than theorists or philosophers.

„I make this chief distinction between religion and superstition, that the latter is founded on ignorance, the former on knowledge“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Contexte: I make this chief distinction between religion and superstition, that the latter is founded on ignorance, the former on knowledge; this, I take it, is the reason why Christians are distinguished from the rest of the world, not by faith, nor by charity, nor by the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, but solely by their opinions, inasmuch as they defend their cause, like everyone else, by miracles, that is by ignorance, which is the source of all malice; thus they turn a faith, which may be true, into superstition.

Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg , November (1675)

„For how shall the finite comprehend the infinite?“

—  Baruch Spinoza

George Boole, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854) Ch. 13. Clarke and Spinoza, pp. 216-217. https://books.google.com/books?id=DqwAAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA216
Contexte: It is not possible, I think, to rise from the perusal of the arguments of Clark and Spinoza without a deep conviction of the futility of all endeavors to establish, entirely à priori, the existence of an Infinite Being, His attributes, and His relation to the universe. The fundamental principle of all such speculations, viz. that whatever we can clearly conceive, must exist, fails to accomplish its end, even when its truth is admitted. For how shall the finite comprehend the infinite? Yet must the possibility of such conception be granted, and in something more than the sense of a mere withdrawal of the limits of phænomal existence, before any solid ground can be established for the knowledge, à priori, of things infinite and eternal.

„I cannot consider them as anything but dreams, which differ from God as totally as that which is not differs from that which is.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Letter to Hugo Boxel (Oct. 1674) The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza (1891) Tr. R. H. M. Elwes, Vol. 2, Letter 58 (54).
Contexte: If I had as clear an idea of ghosts, as I have of a triangle or a circle, I should not in the least hesitate to affirm that they had been created by God; but as the idea I possess of them is just like the ideas, which my imagination forms of harpies, gryphons, hydras, &c., I cannot consider them as anything but dreams, which differ from God as totally as that which is not differs from that which is.<!--pp. 382-383

„You can take every one of Spinoza's propositions, and take the contrary propositions, and“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Richard Feynman, in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999), Ch. 9. The Smartest Man in the World
Contexte: My son is taking a course in philosophy, and last night we were looking at something by Spinoza and there was the most childish reasoning! There were all these attributes, and Substances, and all this meaningless chewing around, and we started to laugh. Now how could we do that? Here's this great Dutch philosopher, and we're laughing at him. It's because there's no excuse for it! In the same period there was Newton, there was Harvey studying the circulation of the blood, there were people with methods of analysis by which progress was being made! You can take every one of Spinoza's propositions, and take the contrary propositions, and look at the world and you can't tell which is right.

„I… lest I… confound the divine nature with the human, do not assign to God human attributes“

—  Baruch Spinoza

Letter to Hugo Boxel (Oct. 1674) The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza https://books.google.com/books?id=Nz1kRKDMbUMC (1891) Tr. R. H. M. Elwes, Vol. 2, Letter 58 (54).
Contexte: This impels me, before going into your reasons, to set forth briefly my opinion on the question, whether the world was made by chance. But I answer, that as it is clear that chance and necessity are two contraries, so is it also clear, that he, who asserts the world to be a necessary effect of the divine nature, must utterly deny that the world has been made by chance; whereas, he who affirms that God need not have made the world, confirms, though in different language, the doctrine that it has been made by chance; inasmuch as he maintains that it proceeds from a wish, which might never have been formed. However, as this opinion and theory is on the face of it absurd, it is commonly very unanimously admitted, that God's will is eternal, and has never been indifferent; hence... the world is a necessary effect of the divine nature. Let them call it will, understanding, or any name they like, they come at last to the same conclusion, that under different names they are expressing one and the same thing. If you ask them, whether the divine will does not differ from the human, they answer, that the former has nothing in common with the latter except its name; especially as they generally admit that God's will, understanding, intellect, essence, and nature are all identical; so I... lest I... confound the divine nature with the human, do not assign to God human attributes, such as will, understanding, attention, hearing, &c. I therefore say, as I have said already, that the world is a necessary effect of the divine nature, and that it has not been made by chance. I think this is enough to persuade you, that the opinion of those (if such there be) who say that the world has been made by chance, is entirely contrary to mine; and relying on this hypothesis, I proceed to examine those reasons which lead you to infer the existence of all kinds of ghosts.<!--pp. 381-382

„This error… forms one of the ultimate foundations of the system of Spinoza.“

—  Baruch Spinoza

James Clerk Maxwell, Matter and Motion (1876)
Contexte: Descartes... fell back on his original confusion of matter with space—space being, according to him, the only form of substance, and all existing things but affections of space. This error... forms one of the ultimate foundations of the system of Spinoza.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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