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Spinoza and "philosophy"

The following was posted to an online Spinoza list in response to a discussion about Spinoza and (what seemed to me to be) "philosophy" in general.

Hi All,

    I noticed that Spinoza wrote in a letter:

======== Letter 74 (76) Spinoza to Albert Burgh:
...you seem to wish to employ reason, and ask me, "How I know that my philosophy is the best among all that have ever been taught in the world, or are being taught, or ever will be taught?" a question which I might with much greater right ask you; for I do not presume that I have found the best philosophy, I know that I understand the true philosophy. If you ask in what way I know it, I answer: In the same way as you know that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles...

    He wrote; "I do not presume that I have found the best philosophy..." and I wondered; is he just expressing humility here and saying something like "Yes, there have been great philosophies in the past, and there may be greater to come in the future, and mine may not be as good as others, etc."? No!, he is not comparing among various "philosophies" as written or spoken (including his own "philosophy") but rather he says "I know that I understand the true philosophy." So now what? Is he expressing pride and ambition that (in his view) his is the only true "philosophy"? No! he tells his correspondent that he knows and understands THE True Philosophy -singular, without another with which a comparison has been or can be made. There is only one Reality and we know it only to the extent that we know and understand our own nature. The "True Philosophy" is not "Spinoza's philosophy" in the form of writing and expression as found in the Ethics. The True Philosophy, as The Word of God, is not contained in so many books and abstract ideas but can only be known directly through our own nature:

======== E5: PROP. 30:
Our mind, in so far as it knows itself and the body under the form of eternity, has to that extent necessarily a knowledge of God, and knows that it is in God, and is conceived through God.


I welcome any thoughts on the above subject.
You may send email to:
tneff [at] earthlink [dot] net

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