Spinoza is my first love in philosophy. He-- like Nietzsche --takes his stand beyond good and evil. The paper below provides a partial introduction to his thought. For more on Spinoza, check out:


                     A Practical Comparison

                                            Wayne Ferguson
                                            Phil. 227, Dr. Rice
                                            Marquette University
                                            [*italicized words*]

    While orthodox Christianity and Spinozism are, per se,
incompatible, it is nevertheless the case that the practical, as it
were, *cash* value of each is due, in large part, to several
elements that are common to both perspectives.  These elements are
not ordinarily considered essential aspects of Christianity--for
that matter, they may rarely be attributed to Christianity at all
by the popular mind.  But it is the thesis of this essay that the
sense of salvation experienced by the Christian believer arises, at
least in part, from the following presuppositions which
Christianity shares with Spinozism--presuppositions which the
individual believer may rarely reflect upon, or even be unconscious
of, but which are, nevertheless, implicit in the Christian gospel,
and essential to the practical, functional aspects of the Christian
faith.  They are as follows:

     1.  All things are caused by God and exist according to
     his eternal order.

     2.  Blessedness is attained when our minds and hearts are
     turned, in love, toward that eternal order.

     3.  Evil is the result of our inordinate pursuit of
     finite, temporal "goods" as ends in themselves.

     4.  The attainment of human perfection involves the
     knowledge of our union with God and, consequently,
     includes a fundamental affirmation of our finite

In Part I of this essay, I will show how Spinoza, in both his
*Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect* and in his *Ethics,*
prescribes a practical philosophy of life which is based, at least
in part, on the presuppositions enumerated above.  Then, so as to
be able to show with greater ease that these presuppositions may be
legitimately associated with Christianity and, indeed, are
essential to the Christian experience, I will, in Part II, do an
exposition of several texts from the writings of the Apostle Paul
together with some references to Augustine and Leibniz.  My
analysis of these texts is necessary as a corrective to many
aspects of the popular conception of Christianity which, as so
conceived, is opposed (in both spirit and letter) to the philosophy
of Spinoza.  Finally, in conclusion, I will indicate in what senses
Christianity and Spinozism are and are not compatible.  This will
involve utilizing a distinction, drawn by Hegel, between the
"picture thinking" (Vorstellung) of religious consciousness and the
"conceptual thinking" (Begriffe) proper to philosophy.

PART I:  A Practical Introduction to Spinoza

     Spinoza's position in regard to the propositions enumerated
above, in the introduction, is clearly and concisely set forth in
the first 17 paragraphs of his *Treatise on the Emendation of the
Intellect*.[1]  Spinoza begins this work with discussion of the
"true good":

     After experience had taught me that all the things which
     regularly occur in ordinary life are empty and futile,
     and I saw that all the things which were the cause or
     object of my fear had nothing of good or bad in
     themselves, except insofar as [my] mind was moved by
     them, I resolved at last to try to find out whether there
     was anything which would be the true good, capable of
     communicating itself, and which alone would affect the
     mind, all others being rejected--whether there was
     something which, once found and acquired, would
     continuously give me the greatest joy, to eternity (1).

This opening paragraph prepares the reader for three important
points which Spinoza will make in the paragraphs which follow:  1)
The inadequacy of ordinary "goods" if taken as ends in themselves;
2) the subjective nature of "good" and "bad"; and 3) the necessity
of pursuing the "true good."  These three points are very closely
connected and the explication of each one depends on the
explication of the others.
     Judging from their actions, Spinoza lists three things that
are commonly perceived as "good" by the mass of human beings:
wealth, honor, and sensual pleasure (3).  And while his intuition
was that the "good" he sought could not be derived from such
objects, he nevertheless experienced a reluctance about abandoning
them in order to pursue a merely hypothetical "true good":

     I say that I resolved at last--for at first glance it
     seemed ill-advised to be willing to lose something
     certain for something then uncertain.  I saw, of course,
     the advantages that honor and wealth bring, and that I
     would be forced to abstain from seeking them, if I wished
     to devote myself seriously to something new and
     different; and if by chance the greatest happiness lay in
     them, I saw that I should have to do without it.  But if
     it did not lie in them, and I devoted my energies only to
     acquiring them, then I would equally go without it (2).

Finally, however, after contemplating the problems pertaining to
the devoted pursuit of those ordinary "goods", Spinoza resolves, in
manner analogous to Pascal's wager, that he would be losing nothing
if the "true good" was actually unattainable.  Observing that
indulgence in sensual pleasure leads to a sort of natural
repentance insofar as it confuses and dulls the mind (5,4), and,
further, that the pursuit of wealth and honor constitute addictions
that are impossible to satisfy completely and easily frustrated
(5,8), Spinoza arrives at the following conclusion:

     if only I could resolve, whole heartedly, [to change my
     plan of life], I would be giving up certain evils for a
     certain good.  For I saw that I was in the greatest
     danger, and that I was forced to seek a remedy with all
     my strength, however uncertain it might be--like a man
     suffering from a fatal illness, who, foreseeing certain
     death unless he employs a remedy, is force to seek it,
     however uncertain, with all his strength.  For all his
     hope lies there.  But all those things men ordinarily
     strive for, not only provide no remedy to preserve our
     being, but in fact hinder that preservation, often cause
     the destruction of those who possess them, and always
     cause the destruction of those who are possessed by them

Now we must remember that from the beginning, Spinoza has denied
the existence of "good" and "bad" as qualities intrinsic to objects
of desire.  In the Ethics, as well, he argues that

     we do not endeavor, will, seek after or desire because we
     judge a thing to be good.  On the contrary, we judge a
     thing to be good because we endeavor, will, seek after
     and desire it (III, 9, Schol.).

It is very clear, then, that "good" and "bad" are subjective for
Spinoza.  But while he is a relativist (in the sense that the value
of anything is relative to the perspective from which it is viewed)
he is far from a nihilist.  On the contrary, he informs us that

he was seeking a good

     uncertain not by its nature (for I was seeking a
     permanent good) but only in respect to its attainment

And compared to the "good" which he imagined, the ordinary
"goods"--as perceived by the unreflective masses--come to light as
"certain evils" (7).  It occurs to him, then, that the evils which
he associates with the pursuit of those ordinary "goods" are a
result of loving that which is finite and perishable:

     these evils seemed to have arisen from the fact that all
     happiness or unhappiness *was placed in*[2] the quality of
     the object to which we cling with love.  For strife will
     never arise on account of what is not loved, nor will
     there be sadness if it perishes, nor envy if it is
     possessed by another, nor fear, nor hatred--in a word, no
     disturbance of the mind.  Indeed, all these happen only
     in the love of those things that can perish, as all the
     things we have just spoken of can do (9).

It might seem, at this point, that Spinoza has reversed himself and
is equating "evil" with perishability which might seem in some
sense intrinsic to the object.  However, the subjective aspect in
fact remains insofar as the evil is the result of a particular
relationship between the subject and the object--a relationship
that finally comes to light as the pursuit of something ephemeral
as an end in itself.  Because he is aware of the evils that result
from the pursuit of such things (perceived as the highest good),
Spinoza begins, quite naturally, to conceive of the "permanent
good" which he sought as involving the love of the eternal and
infinite.  In contrast to the evil that arises from the love of
that which is perishable, he remarks that

     love toward the eternal and infinite thing feeds the mind
     with a joy entirely exempt form sadness.  This is greatly
     to be desired, and to be sought with all our strength

Thus, just as "evil" is the result of our orientation towards
temporal, finite objects of desire, "good", as well, arises out of
the relationship between the subject and object of love.  Once this
is understood, our desire for temporal things need not be an
obstacle in our pursuit of that "permanent good" as long as they
are sought as means and not as ends in themselves (11).
     In paragraph 12, Spinoza reiterates the subjective nature of
"good" and "bad" and says that the same applies to "perfect" and

     For nothing, considered in its own nature, will be called
     perfect or imperfect, especially after we have recognized
     that everything that happens happens according to the
     eternal order, and according to certain laws of Nature

It is in the following paragraph, then, that Spinoza makes good on
the promise in 12 to "say briefly what [he understands] by the true
good, and at the same time what the highest good is."  He relates
both of these to the "eternal order" and "laws of Nature" spoken of

     since human weakness does not grasp that order by its own
     thought, and meanwhile man conceives a human nature much
     stronger and more enduring than his own, and at the same
     time sees that nothing prevents his acquiring such a
     nature, he is spurred to seek means that will lead him to
     such a perfection.  Whatever can be a means to his
     attaining it is called a true good; but the highest good
     is to arrive--together with other individuals if
     possible--at the enjoyment of such a nature.  What that
     nature is we shall show in its proper place:  that it is
     the knowledge of the union that the mind has with the
     whole of Nature (13).

Now the implication here--though, less than crystal clear,
perhaps--is that although human nature is in its weakness unable to
grasp that which is infinite and eternal, the highest good and
perfection for human beings--human strength, as it were--is to
apprehend that "eternal order" and to cling to it with love.  The
resulting joy constitutes the highest good and is the actualization
of that "stronger and more enduring" nature which we conceive even
in our weakness.  And that nature, Spinoza says, is constituted by
the "knowledge of the union that the mind has with the whole of
     The view here presented is not a great deal different then
that we find in the *Ethics*.  In Part IV of the *Ethics,* Spinoza
once again reiterates the subjective nature of "good" and "bad" and
declares such terms useful, nevertheless, in evaluating those
things which help and hinder us in our effort to attain to "the
model of human nature which we set before ourselves" (E4,pref.).
And, just as, in the *Emendation*,  he characterizes as a
"perfection" the "stronger and more enduring nature" which we in
our weakness imagine, so in the *Ethics*, with regard to the "model
we set before ourselves", he says

     we shall say that men are more perfect or less perfect in
     so far as they are nearer to or further from this model

And once again, it would seem that the realizing of the model
involves the love of that which is eternal:

     From this we clearly understand in what our salvation or
     blessedness or freedom consists, namely, in the constant
     and eternal love towards God . . .(E5,P36,Schol.).

Thus we find that while "good" and "evil" are, for Spinoza,
relative to the perspective of the subject, he nevertheless posits
the highest good which, though still subjective, is the same for
every  one who achieves it--every wise man:

     the wise man, in so far as he is considered as such,
     suffers scarcely any disturbance of spirit, but being
     conscious, by virtue of a certain eternal necessity, of
     himself, of God and of things, never ceases to be, but
     always possesses true spiritual contentment.

This then is "salvation" for Spinoza.  We turn now to our analysis
of some Christian texts that will allow us, in conclusion, to
compare the salvation experienced by the Christian believer to that
described by Spinoza.

PART II:  An Analysis of some Christian texts

     The Hebrew and Christian scriptures by no means present an
isomorphic concept of the Divine or of what the exact relationship
between the human and the Divine is or ought to be.  Nevertheless,
an emphasis on the sovereignty of God is common to both the Old and
New Testament.  In the Old Testament, we sometimes find God
apparently reacting to circumstances, but more often he is
portrayed as creating the circumstances.  In the New Testament,
however, history is presented almost unequivocally (especially by
the Apostle Paul) as unfolding exactly according to God's plan--
unfolding in such a way that no turn of events is unexpected or
unaccounted for.  World history is salvation history.  All the acts
and promises of God contained in the Old Testament, from the
creation of human beings in God's image to God's promise to
Abraham, are said to be actually and eternally achieved in Christ.
Paul states that

     God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the
     mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ, to
     be carried out in the fullness of time:  namely, to bring
     all things in the heavens and on earth into one under
     Christ's headship (Ephesians 1:9-11).[3]

And, he argues, even this present, corruptible world, is no
accident, but is part of God's eternal plan:

     Creation was made subject to futility, not of its own
     accord but by him who one subjected it; yet not without
     hope, because the world itself will be freed from  its
     slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom
     of the children of God (Romans 8:20-21).

In light of these presuppositions, Paul's sums up the Christian
attitude as follows:

     We do not lose heart, because our inner being is renewed
     each day even though our body is being destroyed at the
     same time.  The present burden of our trial is light
     enough, and earns for us an eternal weight of glory
     beyond all comparison.  We do not fix our gaze on what is
     seen but on what is unseen.  What is seen is transitory;
     what is unseen lasts forever. (II Corinthians 4:16-18).

Further, Paul expresses his confidence--the confidence of every
true believer:

     We know that God makes all things work together for the
     good of those who love him, who have been called
     according to his decree.  Those whom he foreknew he
     predestined to share the image of his Son, that the Son
     might be the first-born of many brothers.  Those he
     predestined he likewise called; those he called he also
     justified; and those he justified he in turn glorified.
     What shall we say after that?  If God is for us, who can
     be against us? (Romans 8:28)

Now such confidence is possible only possible within a framework of
complete determinism.  And, as Paul makes clear in the ninth
chapter of Romans and in the first two chapters of Ephesians, one's
salvation/creation in Christ is not a matter of free will in any
ordinary sense of the word.  Rather,

     We are truly [God's] handiwork, created in Christ Jesus
     to lead the life of good deeds which God prepared for us
     in advance (Ephesians 2:10).

And while Paul admonishes:  "offer your bodies as a living
sacrifice" (Romans 12:1), and "work with anxious concern to achieve
your salvation" (Philippians 2:12), he reminds us, nevertheless,
that, in the final analysis,

     It is God who, in his good will toward you, begets in you
     any measure of desire or achievement (Philippians 2:13).

This would seem to make free will an illusion of sorts.[4]  It
seem that from the perspective of the Christian--at least from one
who takes Paul seriously, the notions of suffering and evil become
somewhat relativized.  Disregarding the problem of those "vessels
fit for wrath, ready to be destroyed" (Romans 9:22), and other
problems that have plagued traditional attempts at a Christian
theodicy, as long as the Christian maintains a steadfast gaze upon
the glorious body of Christ, of which he or she is a member, the
burden of the present is "light enough" and "works together for
good."  It is only when the Christian take his or her eyes off of
Christ--off eternity, as it were--that the present "evils" are
invested with an apparent positive reality.
     Augustine is thinking along similar lines in his
*Confessions,*[5] where he observes that

     to you [God], nothing whatsoever is evil, and not only to
     you but also to your whole creation, for outside of it
     there is nothing that can break in and disrupt the order
     that you have imposed upon it.  Among its parts, certain
     things are thought to be evil because they do not agree
     with certain others.  Yet these same beings agree with
     others still, and thus they are good, and they are also
     good in themselves (7.13.19).

The clear indication here is that evil "exists" only from a finite
perspective, that considered from God's perspective, the entire
creation is in perfect harmony.  Indeed, in the previous chapter,
Augustine described evil in terms of privation and declared all
substance good.  His conclusion is very much in the Spirit of Paul
(and, as we shall soon see, Leibniz, as well):

     No more did I long for better things, because I thought
     of all things, and with a sounder judgment I held that
     the higher things are indeed better than the lower, but
     that all things together are better that the higher
     things alone.

Finally, as indicated above, we find this same faith underlying
Leibniz' conclusion that this is "the best of all possible worlds."
In his *Discourse on Metaphysics,*[6] he indicates that our
perception of evil and of imperfection in general is due to

     we can say that the more enlightened and informed we are
     about God's works, the more we will be disposed to find
     them excellent and in complete conformity with what we
     might have desired (35).

Further, he disparages those who "judge audaciously that many
things could have been rendered better" which he says

     is based only on the inadequate knowledge we have of the
     general harmony of the universe and of the hidden reasons
     for God's conduct (37).

The fact of the matter, he argues, is that the "knowledge"
(=ascent?) that God always acts in the most perfect and desirable
way constitutes the sine qua non of a proper relationship to God:

     he who loves seeks his satisfaction in the happiness or
     perfection of the object loved and in his actions.  To
     will the same and dislike the same is true friendship.
     And I believe that it is difficult to love God well when
     we are not disposed to will what God wills . . . (37).

Thus, with respect to the past, Leibniz argues that

     in order to act in accordance with the love of God, it is
     not sufficient to force ourselves to be patient; rather,
     we must truly be satisfied with everything that has come
     to us according to his will (38).[7]

     In these texts--the writings of Paul, as well as the writings
of Augustine and Leibniz--we can see many of the Spinozian
presuppositions operating beneath the surface--even when in some
cases such presuppositions are elsewhere strongly qualified or
explicitly denied.
     In conclusion, I will indicate in what senses Christianity and
Spinozism are and are not compatible.  As before indicated, this
will involve utilizing a distinction, drawn by Hegel, between the
"picture thinking" (Vorstellung) of religious consciousness and the
"conceptual thinking" (Begriffe) proper to philosophy.


     For Spinoza, salvation is not something to be attained at some
future time, but something that is experienced now.  And as Spinoza
makes clear in the Emendation, it is by its very nature something
the possession of which does not exclude its possession by others.
On the contrary, he says

     it is part of my happiness to take pains that many others
     may understand as I understand, so that their intellect
     and desire agree entirely with my intellect and desire.
     To do this it is necessary to understand as much of
     Nature as suffices for acquiring such a nature; next, to
     form a society of the kind that is desirable, so that as
     many as possible may attain it as easily and surely as
     possible (14).

but for all the good will and even optimism that Spinoza shows in
the Emendation, the ending of the Ethics paints a much less
inclusive picture with respect to who will actually attain this

     If the road I have pointed out as leading to this goal
     seems very difficult, yet it can be found.,  Indeed, what
     is so rarely discovered is bound to be hard.  For if
     salvation were ready to hand and could be discovered
     without great toil, how could it be that it is almost
     universally neglected?  All things excellent are as
     difficult as they are rare (E5,P42,Schol.).

Now the point of this paper has been to show that the experience of
salvation that Spinoza apprehends by means of abstract
philosophical concepts, the Christian also shares (insofar as he or
she shares in the vision of Christ elaborated by Paul), albeit, by
way of the "picture thinking" of religious consciousness.   Granted
Spinoza denies miracles; denies the reality of a God who--existing
apart from nature--from time to time interrupts the natural order;
and he denies the teleological expectation of a coming kingdom.
And granted, also, that many "Christians" merely pay lip service to
the name of Christ out of a superstitious fear which would
certainly preclude the experience of the salvation which Spinoza
describes.  Nevertheless, it seems that the Christian faith shares
several points in common with Spinoza.  We have seen that just as,
for Spinoza, all that happens happens necessarily according to the
eternal order and laws of Nature, so, for the Christian, creation
is unfolding according to the eternal order that God ordains; just
as salvation, for Spinoza, involves the love and contemplation of
that eternal order, so for the Christian, salvation involves the
love and contemplation of the mystical body of Christ which is the
eternal creation of God; and just as, for Spinoza, the perfection
of human nature involves the knowledge of the union of the mind
with the whole of nature, so for the Christian, perfection is
attained through knowledge of the union of the human and Divine in
Christ with whom the Christian identifies completely.  Now it may
be that mythic, teleological language of Christian faith is less
than precise and subject to more pernicious misinterpretations than
Spinoza's philosophical conception of reality, but,  nevertheless,
the vision of Christ presented above makes accessible to the common
understanding many of the truths expressed by Spinoza--viz. the
four items listed in the introductions to this discussion.  As a
result the practical value of the Christian faith is in many
respects the same as the philosophy of Spinoza. The ephemeral goods
of money, pleasure, and honor are not sought as ends in themselves.
Indeed, Spinoza himself might have written

     If we have food and clothing we have all that we need.
     Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and
     a trap.  They are letting themselves be captured by
     foolish and harmful desires which drag men down to ruin
     and destruction.  The love of money is the root of all
     evil.  Some men in their passion for it have strayed from
     the faith, and have come to grief  amid great pain (I
     Timothy 6:8-10).[8]

Further, the Christian, as before indicated, is admonished to focus
on that which is eternal and to keep a loose hold on worldly goods.
Thus, those who possess real Christian faith, as herein described,
can be characterized in a manner similar to Spinoza's "wise man."
The Christian, we might say

     in so far as he is considered as such, suffers scarcely
     any disturbance of spirit, but being conscious, by virtue
     of a certain eternal necessity, of himself, of God and of
     things, never ceases to be, but always possesses true
     spiritual contentment.

     In the Emendation, Spinoza seemed to feel that the achievement
of the highest good for human beings in general would require a
major revolution of human society.  Such a revolution would be
necessary, Spinoza indicates, in order to bring it about that
understanding of many others could be made to agree with his own
(cf. 14-17).  But in the meantime, he lays down three provisional
rules for dealing with the conditions that prevail.  The first of
these is

     To speak according to the power of understanding of
     ordinary people, and do whatever does not interfere with
     our attaining our purpose.  For we can gain a
     considerable advantage, if we yield as much to their
     understanding as we can.  In this way, they will give a
     favorable hearing to the truth.

This rule would seem to allow for the promulgation of a Christian
faith as herein set forth, insofar as it accords with the spirit of
his philosophy.  Now granted, there are many elements of
Christianity, past and present, that are fundamentally opposed to
the spirit of Spinozism.  They include, but are probably not
limited to

     1.  Social, political, or ecclesiastical control over
     freedom of speech and thought.

     2.  The disparagement the body or of the temporal order
     as intrinsically evil or flawed.

     3.  The acceptance of mythic and religious imagery as
     scientific/historical explanations of phenomena.

     4.  The acceptance of various prevailing cultural norms
     as absolute moral  imperatives, not subject to rational

     5.  The idolatrous acceptance of particular texts as the
     essential foundation rather than an essential expression
     of religious faith.

But while one or more of these elements may be regarded by both
Christians and the opponents of Christianity as essential to the
Christian faith, it is becoming clearer as time goes on that these
aspects of Christianity are merely accidental--that at heart, the
appeal of Christianity is its pictorial representation of our unity
with the Absolute--a representation that involves an affirmation of
the fundamental significance of our finite existence as a necessary
moment in the dynamic of creation.  As such, Christianity comes to
light as essentially life affirming, despite the fact that greater
emphasis may have traditionally been placed on those accidental,
life negating elements.  And while it is possible that the appeal
of the Christian myth may be superseded by new expressions of faith
in times to come, it remains--for a majority of westerners, at
least--a powerful myth.  It need not be, for the modern
intellectual, an object of resentment, per se.  Rather, as we have
seen, it makes accessible to the ordinary intellect, many of the
truths of the most abstruse philosophy; and it continues to
resonate with the emotions of many extraordinary intellects, as
well. [9] [10]

                            END NOTES

[1]  Although the *Emendation* is an early work, written several
years before the *Ethics*, I consider the first 17 paragraphs with
which I am here dealing to have been written in a similar spirit as
the latter work and to be basically compatible with it.  There are
certainly problems in comparing the two works if each take in its
entirety (for example, Curley points out in his editorial preface
that Spinoza may have distinguished between "intellect" and "will"
in the earlier work, and may have confused "mind" and "intellect"),
but these problems are not a factor in the present discussion.
     Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations from this treatise
are from the Curley translation (downloaded from the Marquette
"VAX").  References are to paragraph(?) numbers in that

[2]  The italicized phrase is translated by Elwes as "is made
wholly to depend on."

[3]  Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from
*The New American Bible*.  New York:  Catholic Book Publishing Co.,

[4]  In other words, we can do what we will (or at least we can
sometimes!), but we cannot will what we will.
     It may be that if Christians think of Christ both as a sort of
final cause with whom they identify, and as the intrinsic, formal
cause or essence of their authentic self, then they could, in the
final analysis, be described as having "chosen themselves"--as
having affected their own salvation--despite the fact that it
appears at first as if God (perceived as an alien, external force)
had affected their salvation from without.  If such were the case,
determinism rather than freedom would come to light as the

[5]  The Confessions of St. Augustine.  Trans. John K. Ryan.  New
York:  Image Books, 1960.

[6]  *Philosophical Essays*.  Translated and edited by Roger Ariew
and Daniel Garber.  Indianapolis:  Hackett Publishing Co., 1989.

[7]  Cf. Nietzsche in *Ecce Homo*:  "My formula for greatness in a
human being is *amor fati*:  that one wants nothing to be
different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity.  Not
merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it--all idealism
is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary--but *love* it"
(The last paragraph of "Why I am so clever").

[8]  Cf. the following, listed among the provisional rules of
living which Spinoza takes to be "good"--i.e. as helpful in our
pursuit of the highest good:  "To enjoy pleasures just so far as
suffices for safeguarding our health" and "to seek money, or
anything else, just so far as suffices for sustaining life and
health, and conforming to those customs of the community that do
not conflict with our aim" [17].

[9]  There are four points enumerated toward the end of the
Scholium to part two of the *Ethics* that should have been referred
to in Part I or in the conclusion.  They concern the practical
advantages of Spinoza's doctrine and, as such, are very relevant to
the present discussion.

[10]  One point which I have failed to address fully--and which
deserves to be more fully addressed--is the notion of salvation as
salvation from sin.  My approach to such a notion, from the
perspective of a neo-Spinozian, would be to characterize the "sin"
of Adam--the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--
as representative of our preoccupation with temporal, finite
objects of desire, taken as ends in themselves.  Furthermore, it
might be argued that when one becomes fully convinced that all that
happens happens from necessity, according to the eternal order; and
when one "clings with love" to that order, then one will experience
a liberation from personal guilt.  Finally, our nature is
imperfect, for Spinoza, in a relative sense, insofar as we fail to
realize that "stronger more enduring nature"--that "model which we
set before ourselves."

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