On women

It’s a shock that these brilliant minds of the enlightenment period did not see the link between denying women opportunities for leadership and their absence from those posts. Almost all of them argue women are not fit for leadership because there have been no women leaders. I however believe had they lived long enough to see that when given opportunities, women can and have made good leaders.

With that, we can listen to Spinoza

But, perhaps, someone will ask, whether women are under men’s authority by nature or institution? For if it has been by mere institution, then we had no reason compelling us to exclude women from government. But if we consult experience itself, we shall find that the origin of it is in their weakness. For there has never been a case of men and women reigning together, but wherever on the earth men are found, there we see that men rule, and women are ruled, and that on this plan, both sexes live in harmony. But on the other hand, the Amazons, who are reported to have held rule of old, did not suffer men to stop in their country, but reared only their female children, killing the males to whom they gave birth. But if by nature women were equal to men, and were equally distinguished by force of character and ability, in which human power and therefore human right chiefly consist; surely among nations so many and different some would be found, where both sexes rule alike, and others, where men are ruled by women, and so brought up, that they can make less use of their abilities. And since this is nowhere the case, one may assert with perfect propriety, that women have not by nature equal right with men: but that they necessarily give way to men, and that thus it cannot happen, that both sexes should rule alike, much less that men should be ruled by women. But if we further reflect upon human passions, how men, in fact, generally love women merely from the passion of lust, and esteem their cleverness and wisdom in proportion to the excellence of their beauty, and also how very ill-disposed men are to suffer the women they love to show any sort of favour to others, and other facts of this kind, we shall easily see that men and women cannot rule alike without great hurt to peace. But of this enough.

on good and evil

in the state of nature, wrong doing is impossible; or if anyone does wrong, it is to himself, not to another. For no one by law of nature is bound to please another, unless he chooses, nor to hold anything to be good or evil, but what he himself, according to his own temperament, pronounces to be so; and to speak generally, nothing is forbidden by the law of nature, except what is beyond everyone’s power.

[..]men are chiefly guided by appetite, without reason; yet for all this they do not disturb the course of nature, but follow it of necessity. And therefore a man ignorant and weak of mind, is no more bound by natural law to order his life wisely, than a sick man is bound to be sound of body.

Spinoza in his posthumous work, the political treatise

Additional reading:


On the supremacy of civil law

On this count, I agree with Spinoza again on his conclusion when he writes, regarding what laws should have supremacy

We conclude that the sovereign power, which alone is bound both by divine and natural right to preserve and guard the laws of the state, should have supreme authority for making any laws a bout religion which it thinks fit; all are bound to obey its behests on the subject

The above is so that the likes of Davis cannot fail to do their civic duty by cutting religious reasons for then everyone would cite a religious reason for disobedience to the state. And in such a scenario, only chaos would result.

Elsewhere he writes, and I think agree

No one knows by nature that he owes any obedience to God nor can he attain thereto by any exercise of his reason.

In another place, he writes

It is not only in respect of ignorance that we conceive the state of nature as prior to, and lacking the divine revealed law and right, but in respect of freedom also, wherewith all men are born endowed.

Say what you will, but one must agree that Spinoza was a head of his time and maybe even ahead of some of us in respect to freedom of thought and separation of church and state.

On interpretation of scripture

Many people have argued that religious observance is a private endeavour and that it is unbecoming of anyone to insist their interpretation is the only one and that which the multitude must acquiesce to. And so in my continued serialization of the portions of Spinoza’s work that I think matter to us most, I will share what he writes on interpreting scripture

He writes, and I agree, that

Therefore, as the supreme right of free thinking, even on religion, is in every man’s power, and as it is inconceivable that such power could be alienated, it is also in every man’s power to wield the supreme right and authority of free judgment in this behalf, and to explain and interpret religion for himself. The only reason for vesting the supreme authority in the interpretation of law, and judgment on public affairs in the hands of the magistrates, is that it concerns questions of public right. Similarly the supreme authority in explaining religion, and in passing judgment thereon, is lodged with the individual because it concerns questions of individual right. So far, then, from the authority of the Hebrew high-priests telling in confirmation of the authority of the Roman pontiffs to interpret religion, it would rather tend to establish individual freedom of judgment. Thus in this way also, we have shown that our method of interpreting Scripture is the best. For as the highest power of Scriptural interpretation belongs to every man, the rule for such interpretation should be nothing but the natural light of reason which is common to all—not any supernatural light nor any external authority; moreover, such a rule ought not to be so difficult that it can only be applied by very skillful philosophers, but should be adapted to the natural and ordinary faculties and capacity of mankind. And such I have shown our method to be, for such difficulties as it has arise from men’s carelessness, and are no part of its nature.

Stop your preachings. Don’t proselytize. Let each person decide for themselves whether the religions conforms to their natural reason and to believe as they so wish or rather as they are convinced.

Spinoza on miracles

Though I disagree with most of what Spinoza says, I think he is close to truth when he writes

I have shown that scripture does not explain things by their secondary causes, but only narrates them in order and style which has most power to move men, and especially uneducated men, to devotion; and therefore it speaks inaccurately of god and of events, seeing that its object is not to convince the reason, but to attract and lay hold of the imagination.