on 28 April 2014
The first part is the least interesting, yet vital, the syllogisms described by the geometric method, are the basis for the more interesting second and third parts. Spinoza suggests that what is virtual in mathematics, is real in relation to things. The second part is a description of key issues in scientific methodology, and refers to earlier developments in Aristotle and neoplatonism. Spinoza's 'machine' resembles the design specification for a database management system, the predicate logic comprising flows, parallelisms, pathways and circulations. Spinoza's thought points to the possible conditions of science in the scholasticism of the middle ages. His scepticism towards signs, rejects romantic philology, as did Max Muller, presaging the emergence of linguistics in the mid-C19th. Similarly, conceptions of the finite and infinite, lead to transfinite numbers and set theory, central to the emergence of computer technology, in the C20th. The view of organic and continuous flows, is echoed in contemporary philosophy. In the third part, Spinoza describes the formation of adequate ideas, as an alternative to confused passions. Form, feeling, perception, concept, action; the transmutation of passive into active, is the sensory-motor schema described by Deleuze in 'Cinema'. The book concludes suggesting that the triangulation of mind, body and world, within Leibniz and Spinoza overcomes the Cartesian duality, to produce a science and awareness beyond reductionism. Whereas Leibniz retains traces of an ideological cosmology, Spinoza emphasizes choice; internal specificity replaces external generality, an orientation vital to biological and human sciences in the modern era. A lovely book, well worth reading.