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Spinoza Contra Kant and the Cause of Esprital Truth

Spinoza Contra Kant and the Cause of Esprital Truth

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Published by Mabdomar
Constantin Brunner
Constantin Brunner

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Published by: Mabdomar on Jan 27, 2014
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Spinoza contra Kant and the Cause of Esprital TruthBy Constantin BrunnerOriginally published in German in 199 as an introduction to
 Spinoza und sein Kreis : historisch-kritische Studien über holländische Freigeister 
 ! Koenraad Oege "einsma#$ublished in %rench as
 Spinoza contre Kant et la cause de la vérité spirituelle.
Translated and &ith and introduction by 'enri (uri)# * $aris + ,# -rin. 19/0#This English translation is based on an unpublished ersion translated by 'enri (uri)# 2t has been edited and modified by Barrett $asha3# 04#
Are you narrow-minded, upset by a new word?Will you only hear that which you've already heard? —J.W. Goethe, Spinoist and non-!antian."ther than !ant, none amon# those innovative men whom one calls philosophers  possesses the compellin# $orce o$ Spinoa, whose ma%esty is such that it is not without a certain 'popularity.'Spinoa and !ant—Spinoa or !ant&here lies in this opposition... however, what is to come now is central to the most serious o$ matters, and is itsel$ deeply serious, and is not $or unthin(in# people, who close their ears as soon as they hear anythin# revolutionary and $ran(ly )ueer soundin# compared to that to which they are accustomed, especially when it concerns *mmanuel !ant+ since they automatically, without (nowin# how, stand on their #uard proclaimin# We, all, are !antians& So #oes the $irst verse o$ the battleson# o$ the scholars one a$ter the other they trot behind their *mmanuel !ant li(e lambs behind their mama+ a#ainst us, however, the mee(est o$ these lambs acts li(e a ti#er cub, strainin# to roar and act all  bloodthirsty.or we say Spinoa and !ant. And we say Spinoa or !ant& And we $ind it more a#reeable i$, when we say this, the !ant-people, in their $ancy, seie us, brea( us and annihilate us, than i$ they were to do the opposite, and pamper and $latter us.Spinoa and !ant—$rom one and $rom the other emanates respectively the best and the worst o$ thou#ht. *n Spinoa's system the apparently numerous ideas $ind their conclusion in the stead$ast awareness o$ the "ne, where$rom each idea emer#es renewed in brilliance
 
and $orce, mani$estin# its solidarity with all the others, to#ether with its own thrivin# e/istence, in the "ne—in all these ideas lives bri#ht the "ne idea, as it is said that on all the stones and pebbles o$ 0ount Sinai a burnin# bush is reproduced. With all our thin(in# we $ind ourselves enhanced throu#h Spinoa's systematic ideolo#y, which, li(e a lively $ountain, pervades heart and bein#ness, brin#in# puri$ication and edi$ication and $illin# us with the pure %oy o$ the 1ternal."n the other hand, !ant, with his metaphysics, splits the one and only reality into many more disconnected thou#hts than are to be $ound in the avera#e mind, and never #oes  beyond the crude data o$ sensory perceptions. And what could he brin# us to modi$y our stead$ast mind—he, who is so uncertain and superstitious at the bottom o$ his heart? *mmanuel !ant, the #reat scholastic—#reater than 2uns Scotus,
doctor subtilis
+ #reater than homas A)uinas,
doctor angelicus;
#reater than Albertus, surnamed the Great— *mmanuel the Greatest,
 scholasticissimus, doctor inexplicabilis
, whom no one o$ his dili#ent $ollowers has yet been able to e/plore, and to tell us i$ we should consider him as a s(eptic, or as one who shares the superstition o$ the masses.3ut there $inally came a merry $ellow, my alter-e#o, who $ound out and $aith$ully reported 4in a wor( which will be o$ten )uoted below5 that he, doctor
 sibi repugnans
,  belon#s to both, to the s(eptic and to the superstitious. As $ar as his superstition is concerned, it stands midway between the dyin# reli#ion—to which his heart seems mainly dedicated—and the post-reli#ious new superstition o$ evolutionism, that youn# successor, #rown stron# in our midst and about ready to ta(e over the leadership, without waitin# until the old be dead and #one.*n !ant we have the condensed, palpable moultin# o$ the dominant popular mentality, ie. o$ superstition+ $or, once more in human history, superstition is under#oin# a trans$ormation this time, $rom reli#ion to that hundred times, thousand times #reater $olly o$ evolutionism. "$ course, people are completely unaware o$ the $act that evolution re)uires %ust as much $aith and credulity on their part as $ormerly did reli#ion, and that they have simply $ound therein some new superstitions. hose who $ind themselves liberated $rom the old superstitions believe themselves now to have $reed themselves $rom all superstition, since in their i#norance o$ the true nature o$ superstition, they thin( that it may be overcome, and so #o on ar#uin# about it in purely ne#ative terms, there  bein# now nothin# le$t to believe in....Since the idea that li$e and death are one and the same 4 in 6ature everythin# bein# e)ually positive, as positive as is in #eneral our relative nature itsel$5—since they are incapable o$ #raspin# that true idea, they eventually conclude, that a$ter one passes away, there is nothin# le$t and everythin# comes to an end. 7naware o$ the $act that they $all constantly $rom one enslavin# superstition into another, they would rather ma(e us  believe that with each new one they have now $ound ruth and reedom.*n these times o$ transition between the $orms o$ superstition, many people e/perience the same $ate as my $riend the modern-minded, who durin# his whole li$e—top secret in$ormation—received and still receives whippin#s in his youth $rom his parents and
 
teachers, as was then $ashionable+ and today $rom his children, a$ter the now prevailin# $ashion.*n the case o$ *mmanuel !ant, what can we observe o$ the metamorphosis o$ superstition $rom reli#ion to evolutionism? What $unction, in the midst o$ these two superstitions, does s(epticism serve? And how did this supreme mi/olo#ist o$ reli#ion, evolutionism and s(epticism #row to become the $amous *mmanuel !ant, whom people $ind so  praiseworthy and whom we $ind so dread$ul? "$ all this one may $ind elsewhere the most complete and pertinent analysis. 8ere, it will su$$ice to state the $act that everybody is praisin# !ant who—bend or brea(—encompasses in his conscience and e/presses in philosophical terms everythin# which they, in a less pro$ound way, also comprehend+ and naturally, everythin# else which simpler people thin( and believe in. *sn't that a $act? Aren't most o$ the people around us little !ants, disposin# at their $in#ertips o$ reli#ion, s(epticism and o$ evolutionism+ and ma(in# out o$ these three in#redients a convenient seasonin# $or their ever-chan#in# opinions? *t is their own sa#acity which they are rediscoverin# or, at least, could very %udiciously rediscover throu#h !ant $or he is the most sa#acious+ and $or him, e$$ectively, the three have  become one. 1ven those in whom these elements are more separated can appeal to !ant, as he seems to rein$orce anyone, whatever may be his opinion a reli#ious believer, a reli#ious s(eptic, or a s(eptical evolutionist.We have %ust de$ined the three basic types o$ our present transitional period the believers in reli#ion, those who combine reli#ion with s(epticism, and those who combine s(epticism with a belie$ in evolutionism. We still disre#ard $or the moment those who already espouse $aith$ully the doctrine o$ evolutionism, althou#h they deserve most o$ our attention since their (ind will be the leaders in the days to come. or the time bein#, however, they are still a minority, and we will be concerned here only with the class o$ the most distin#uished and advanced people in our present era o$ transition. his is the cate#ory o$ those who combine s(epticism with a belie$ in evolution. *ndeed, be$ore the new belie$ ac)uires its hermetical orthodo/y and $ree thin(in# drops a#ain below ero, as it had in the past hermetic era o$ reli#ion, up to that time—despite the already decided victory o$ the new superstition—s(epticism will remain on its side. 9eople still have their s(eptical attitude, which had helped to $i#ht a#ainst the previously dominant superstition o$ reli#ion, the $ire o$ which is e/tin#uished, but the hearth is still warm. *t is clear that it cannot happen without the middlin# o$ s(epticism $rom one summit o$ superstition to the ne/t, one passes necessarily over the abyss o$ s(epticism.We stand now—it is $air to %ud#e an era a$ter its most advanced spirits, who represent it  best and re$lect its true character—we stand presently, * say, under the con%unction o$ s(epticism and evolutionism, o$ that wretched evolutionism and that %ust as wretched s(eptical attitude. :ou must (now s(epticism is an e/cellent servant and helper a#ainst superstition, but it should not become your master in lieu o$ ruth+ by itsel$, indeed, s(epticism is as wretched as superstition, $or both are e)ually oblivious o$ ruth. 6o doubt about, s(epticism has done a #ood %ob a#ainst reli#ious superstition, and could help us a#ainst the new superstition& 3ut the deep con$usion o$ our times lies precisely in the

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