Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Spinoza and Buddhism

Philosophy professor and author of a recent biography of Spinoza, Rebecca Goldstein, explains how Spinoza's philopsophy is similar to and different from Buddhism in a recent interview for the California Literary Review:

Interviewer: "Spinoza's philosophy has strong similarities to Buddhism - most notably the concept that any notion of a separate and distinct self is an illusion. Buddhism's method for understanding that truth is to turn off the mind, while Spinoza's is to rigorously engage the mind.

Goldstein: "The final viewpoint that Spinoza comes to has a great deal in common with Buddhism. (A friend to whom I was once explaining Spinoza quipped, "Oh, you're telling me that Baruch was the first Bu-Jew.") But of course Spinoza's methodology is entirely different, as you point out, placing all its trust in the deductive processes of logic. Since the world itself is woven of logic--really IS logic--then that's the one and only faculty of our minds that can penetrate beyond the appearances into true being. "For the eyes of the mind, whereby it sees and observes things, is none other than proofs." Spinoza's entire system in fact unfolds from what I call his basic Presumption of Reason, the belief that the world is entirely intelligible, that every fact that truly is a fact has an explanation. From this intuition of his (which he seems to regard as itself true by logic) he deduces the full sweep of his system. His system is supposed to be as inextricably woven of pure logic as reality itself."

The author's site has links to online book reviews but I have yet to find this book in Bangkok.