Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Empathy, Spinoza, and the First and Greatest Commandment

Several years back, while working on a Philosophy minor degree at the Utah Valley University, I was introduced to the philosopher Benedict de Spinoza. At the time I was taking an early-modern philosophy class and learning about the prominent philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However, it was Spinoza that really stuck out to me. While I never really agreed with his treatment of God (Spinoza argued that in order for God to be omnipotent, omniscient, etc. he must be a substance that contained all essences. Or, basically, in order for God to be God he must contain all things in existence. This is basically a fancy way of saying that God is in and apart of everything, rather than a physical entity) I did appreciate how he was willing to go the extra mile in order to resolve the ontological problem of evil. However, it is through his treatment of God that I was first really introduced to the idea of the expression of empathy in order to understand or better perceive God. Spinoza has heavily influenced the way I look at others, nature, and the world (or even the universe) in general, especially in relation to God.