NOTES ON: Deleuze, G. (1988) Spinoza Practical Philosophy, trans. Robert Hurley. San Francisco: City Lights Books

[Hurley's Preface is a bit odd in spotting a link between Spinoza and deep ecologists, especially Naess [?] -- via understanding as interacting with things. Hurley says Deleuze is even better with his notion of a plane of consistency as an 'environment', with its own  'field of forces'. Humans need to be able to reconnect with this notion of the geophysical environment, the connections within us of the nonhuman and all that -- 'what new individual do we compose when we "think like a mountain"' (ii). Must give that a go!]

Chapter One Life of Spinoza

[Odd that Deleuze should be interested in people’s lives—aren’t individuals just conceptual personae?  This account actually mentions social and political forces but also Spinoza’s courage and resourcefulness. Could be just a conventional way in? ]

Philosophers are supposed to be ascetic—humble, poor and chaste—as an expression of their singularity.  This makes them able to resist attacks on personal grounds.  They also celebrate solitude because philosophers can not be integrated, even in to the liberal democratic societies.  Spinoza think social life is just a matter of obeying, and so are lots of moral categories.  This is a constraint on thought, and societies should be sought that do not ‘subject thought to the rule of the state, which only applies to actions.  As long as thought is free, hence vital, nothing is compromised’ (4) [which is both {male} heroic and quietist].  Thought should be beyond obedience and blame, life should be beyond good and evil, as we shall see.

Spinoza did eventually leave the closed Jewish subculture in which he was raised for more urban milieux.  The Jewish community in Amsterdam already contained different strands, including one that was sceptical, and there were frequent  excommunications, including Spinoza who refused  to repent.  He survived an assassination attempt and moved to Leyden.  Deleuze says it was radical and sceptical trends inside Judaism rather than the influence of any liberal or Christian thinking.

There were substantial splits inside the Dutch political groups as well, and Spinoza tended to side with the liberals the republicans and the imperialists, a break with ‘the economic milieu at the same time’ (7).  He broke with the family business and became a lens maker.

 Lots of his work remained unpublished at the time, and this scuppered a brief ‘professorial’ stage, involving learned expositions.  Spinoza moved again to The Hague, and remained marginal.  He also remained defensive and discussed his ideas only with friends.  Mainstream opinion remained with his political opponents, and the recent failure of Cromwell in the UK added to Spinoza’s anxiety about revolutions as harmful.  This led Spinoza to become interested in why people were irrational, not interested in liberation, and able to turn Christianity into an intolerant belief.  His work became denounced by all sides, because he was interested in demystification, especially of religion, which he saw as an affect.

War and the assassination of his political allies produced even more problems and his Ethics could not be published.  He declines to become professor of philosophy at Heidelberg in favour of remaining a private thinker and critic.  Politics continues to concern him, especially the possibilities of liberating the multitude.

Despite these sad circumstances, Spinoza remained as an advocate of the positive life.  He wanted to avoid ‘that internal death, the universal sadomasochism of the tyrant – slave’ (13), perhaps at the expense of failing to realize the power of the negative.  However, reducing the joys of life produced both inward humiliations like bad conscience and guilds, and outward ones like resentment.

His method can only be seen against the background of the celebration of life as ‘a way of being’ (13).  Spinoza rejects satire as malicious.  His geometric method is a means of intellectual invention, rectification, the proper connection of causes and effects as a kind of optical geometry.   The philosophy and the profession of lens polishing come together. Only the thinker can develop a properly potent life.  He only wanted to reveal his thoughts to others, not impose them.

Chapter two On the Difference Between the Ethics and A Morality

Spinoza is famous for the idea that there is a single substance with an infinite number of attributes, uniting God and nature.  This denies the transcendental God, and implies a number of ‘practical theses that made Spinozism an object of scandal’ (17).

Spinoza was one of the few philosophers to investigate what a body was [perhaps this had been put on the agenda by developments in anatomy?].  He saw mind and body as existing in parallel, not one causing the other or remaining prior in any sense.  This had an implication for the notion of morality as ‘the domination of the passions by consciousness’ (18).  Instead, an action in the mind is necessarily an action in the body, or passion in the body is necessarily a passion in the mind.  Just as the body acts in a way which is not usually grasped in ordinary thought, so thought itself is not contained in consciousness: the philosopher needs to acquire an adequate knowledge of both body and mind.  In both cases, ordinary consciousness needs to be replaced by adequate thought.

This means that consciousness is actually an illusion, which merely registers effects.  Actually what is happening is that there are causes behind these effects of which we are not aware.  In Spinoza’s case, these are the result of relations between parts of the body and or parts of the idea.  Bodies can encounter other bodies, and ideas other ideas.  Sometimes this encounter leads to a combination, something more powerful, and on other occasions, one body decomposes the other ‘destroying the cohesion of its parts’ (19).  Consciousness only registers these encounters—we experience new combinations as joy, and decomposition as sadness.  In particular, consciousness is unable to grasp other bodies and their relations with our own.

Because consciousness is an illusion, ‘it is scarcely possible to think that little children are happy, or that the first man was perfect’ (19-20) [philosophical issues of the time, presumably?] Most people have only consciousness and are ‘condemned to undergo effects, they are slaves of everything, anxious and unhappy, in proportion to their imperfection’ (20) [I am already hearing a hint of John Stuart Mill here—I have long suspected that Spinoza/Deleuze is some kind of 17th century utilitarian on stilts]

Consciousness operates with three illusions: (A) since it can only grasp effects, it tends to take those effects for causes; (B) if it grasps causes at all these are seen as strictly limited—the most immediate cause is the final cause of action [I think].  This leads to the illusion that consciousness itself is a first cause [because consciousness registers immediate effects?]; (C) when consciousness realizes its own limits, it invokes a notion of God as a final cause, or the world as a result of God’s decree.  These illusions constitute consciousness.

Consciousness itself is driven by desire (appetite together with consciousness of the appetite).  This consciousness itself is limited, as usual.  So desire has to be defined differently, as an effort at self preservation or conatus.  When we encounter self preservation, we act differently—objects emit ‘determinative affections’ (21), which produce the usual results, a joy or sadness, according to whether they combine with us or decompose us.  Consciousness tends to represent this as variations of the conatus, an awareness of the potency of objects.  Nevertheless, information about objects is still confused and distorted.

Spinoza interprets God's injunction to Adam not to eat the fruit as an example of superior knowledge that the fruit will act as a poison, decomposing and rearranging parts of Adam’s body and therefore compromising his essence.  Adam misinterprets this as a moral command.  All systems of morality are disguised bits of information about the effects of bad encounters [sounds like Bentham here].  ‘There is no Good or Evil, but there is good and bad’ (22).  Good things happen when bodies combine to increase their power, as when we eat food.  Bad things happen when our bodies’ relations are decomposed, as when we eat poison [whose affects are seen as breaking down the blood].  So good and bad really refer to objective effects, but these are relative and partial, according to whether they agree with our nature or not.

It follows that individuals are good if they try to increase their power and joy by searching out the right combinations, and bad if they are ‘servile, or weak, or foolish’ (23), not attempting to systematize the results of experience, but often believing that they will always be able to get away with things.  This will inevitably lead to self-destructive guilt, or resentment towards others, spreading powerlessness and poison.

In this way, the Ethics also dispenses with the notion of morality as the judgement of God.  The idea of transcendental values to judge things by is unnecessary, an illusion just like the illusions of consciousness.  Misunderstanding arises because people simply wait for the effects, and they think of some kind of moral law rather than a natural law: we establish and obey laws only when we do not understand, just like rote learning in arithmetic (23).  This has led to the need to be very cautious about what’s meant by natural laws, and Spinoza prefers to talk of 'eternal truths'.

Relying on laws does not lead to any knowledge, and invokes a power relation either in the name of the tyrant, as a prelude to knowledge (Christianity) , or to regulate those who are seen to be incapable of knowledge.  Theology has classically confused the relation between knowledge and law, and there is a pervasive error in ontology where commands replace something which needs to be understood.  Law is transcendent, but ethical knowledge and judgment is immanent (25).

The differences between ethics and morality have an important consequence.  Morality has led to the emergence of people who exploit sad passions, satirists who make fun of them, and slaves who are the victims of them, ‘the slave, the tyrant, and the priest…, the moralist trinity’ (25).  Spinoza argued that despots have always used religion as a convenient mystery to persuade people to fight for a system that enslaves them.  This shows a kind of bad connection in sadness between the endlessness of desire, and the confusion over what it should be aimed at.  Tyrants rely on sad spirits and vice versa—they are united in hatred of life and resentment.  The resentful have always supported war and absolute discipline [there is a nice sections saying that young men who cannot bear to be disciplined by their parents are perfectly happy to be disciplined in the army, or in zealotry, as a way of taking vengeance on their parents, no matter at what price 26].

We need to celebrate life, avoiding transcendent values, the illusions of consciousness, the categories of Good and Evil, and hatred including self hatred.  The bad passions tend to accumulate—‘first, sadness itself, then hatred, perversion, mockery, fear, despair, morsus conscientiae [?  translated on Wikipedia as ‘the [apparent]bite of conscience’], pity, indignation, envy, humility, repentance, cruelty’ (26).  Even the more active ones replicate the feelings of slaves.  Then the bits that has been quoted as if it were Deleuze himself, but is really Deleuze continuing to expound Spinoza: ‘The true city offers citizens the love of freedom instead of the hope of rewards or even the security of possessions; for “it is slaves, not free men, who are given rewards for virtue”’.  The more sad passions we have, the more ‘our whole life is a death worship’.

There is a clear connection with the theory of affections.  Individuals are ‘a singular essence, which is to say, a degree of power’ (27).  This essence involves relations and capacities for being affected, being filled by affections.  Animals are only capable of certain capacities to be affected [and this produces an ethological categorisation, not the usual ‘moral’ one of genera and species obeying laws].  When it comes to an ethology of man, there are two sorts of affections—actions and passions, the former arising from the nature of the individual, and the latter from something else outside.  Being acted upon is also considered as a kind of power [in the sense of capacity?].  Actions and passions can vary, ‘in inverse ratio to one another’.

Passions are further subdivided.  What they do is to ‘fill our capacity for being affected while separating us from our power of acting’.  Encountering other bodies can mean that they oppose and diminish or block our power of acting, and this produces sadness, but when we relate to a body that agrees with our nature and which compounds ours, we are affected by joy.  Joy is still a passion because it as an external cause, even though we feel we own it.  As our power of acting is increased, we feel we are more ‘worthy of action, of active joys’ (28) [so this is where the ‘automatic’ development of human beings might fit in?].

Sadness means we are at our lowest degree of power, most alienated, and most susceptible to superstition and mystification, impotence.  The problem for the Ethics then turns to considering how we might maximize joyful passions, and therefore active feelings; how we manage to form adequate ideas which are the source of active feelings, and how we become conscious of ourselves.  In each case, we are struggling against ‘our place in nature’ and ‘our natural conditions’ (28).  These practical theses explain the point of all the other elements of the Ethics, including oneness, univocity, parallelism and the rest.  The implications are actually developed best in the additional scholia, corresponding to the more formal logical definitions and sections [discussed more fully in Deleuze’s Essays].  In particular, there is a central notion of immanence, which ‘is the unconscious itself, and the conquest of the unconscious’ (29).  In this way, the development of thought  also brings joy [I think].

Chapter three The Letters on Evil (correspondence with Blyenbergh)

Blyenbergh questioned Spinoza about evil in the form of four letters (with four replies).  Blyenbergh  was a grain broker!  Spinoza discusses the issues ‘as if he were himself fascinated by the subject’ [a kind of early indirect free speech?].  Blyenbergh’s questions really got to the heart of it, and forced Spinoza to give examples and develop his thoughts, especially of evil [which sounds like a good kind of conversation after all?  Shame someone did not do this with Deleuze!].  Spinoza is going to argue that ‘being is beyond good and evil’ (31).

The first question was how ‘evil wills’ could be seen as produced by God.  Spinoza’s answer is one we’ve seen already, that God was really just giving chemical advice to Adam, not moral regulation.  Bad things disturb our nature, but what if we have a nature that likes being disturbed?  And how can disgust actually lead to virtue?  Blyenbergh also says that we only know if something is poisonous through experience—so is there no other source for deciding what is evil (like revelation or knowledge?) (32).  [The problem with all insistence that learning is experiential].

Poisoning for Spinoza means the decomposition of parts of the body.  However composite bodies can have parts of different types which can enter into different relations—how does one relation become dominant?  Why do some individuals have blood dominated by chyle, and some by lymph?  Poison works by disrupting or decomposing these relations, and final destruction produces death, ‘”a different relation of motion and rest”’ (32).  This is seen in terms of a relation being an eternal truth [see above], but having its parts rearranged, to form a different relation, which is no longer eternally true.  Blyenbergh apparently picked up the implication that the soul must also disintegrate when bodies die.

Apparently, this helped Spinoza address the usual view that evil is nothing [it now becomes a particular harmful form of relation—a particular relation that does not disturb the general thesis that relations have to agree with the natural order (maybe}].  Again, this secularizes [my word] the notion of evil.

However the situation is obviously complicated.  We might have a mixture of good and bad relations.  The relations themselves might change as we grow older, and sometimes changing relations, as in the form of chronic illness, makes us wonder ‘if it is the same individual that goes on living’ (34).  Sometimes we can modify parts of ourselves so as to turn against our entire health and wellbeing [a note on page 34 indicates Spinoza’s response to this last problem, which Deleuze finds surprisingly contemporary—for example in discussing autoimmune diseases, or whether people should be kept artificially alive].

Blyenbergh is still not happy, [insisting that there are external definitions of vice or evil].  He thinks the idea that there are mixtures of relations ends in confusion and relativism, since evil seems to exist ‘to the same degree as good’ (35) [with a nice example—it’s just as positive and joyful  to perform the sexual act with another man’s wife than with your own].  Spinoza develops a particular logic which even Deleuze finds obscure, [roughly that there might be long-term or external considerations to be weighed up beyond the immediate act—similar problem to Utilitarianism again].  Certainly the same act, such as beating something can be bad if it is a human being beaten, but good if it is a piece of iron [which is too easy, because we can all see the argument here about whether it compounds our own relations].  A further weasel ensues: Spinoza argues that it it is the potential for compounding or decomposing that matters [through some strange terminology like whether an act ‘is associated with the image of the thing insofar is that thing can compound with it’ (36).  Of course, this is almost entirely definitional, far more than just experiential. Maybe this capacity to judge comes with adequate ideas?].  So no action can be considered as inherently good or bad, nor do intentions matter.  Instead it is this mysterious ‘image of the thing with which the image of the act is associated’,[which somehow is to be judged by the actor?  Or is this some notion that if there is a good outcome it is a good act?]. In any event evil is nothing because evil occurs with natural relations as well.

We move on to an argument that we need an adequate idea to sort this out [ah!], an idea that captures the relations between bodies [Mill thought this could be done using social science?] . Spinoza apparently agreed that we could see adequate ideas, those that refer to compounding more easily.  Evil and bad relations remains as capable of being grasped only by an inadequate idea [again I assume by definition?].

What of the essences expressed in these relations?  [Essences relating to individuals?] Are some inherently likely to produce badness, and if so, doesn’t this reintroduce some idea of absolute evil?  Blyenbergh thinks some individuals actually like committing crimes.  Has Spinoza done enough to refute the idea of evil essences, beneath or outside actual relations?  Spinoza replies by asking what it means when something pertains to essence, and insists that badness is a matter of affections which are missing from some individuals, perhaps in comparison to what they were like before [so these are qualities that are not essential]. 

Blyenbergh insists that if you can compare two essences, you still have difficulty in comparing two states of the same essence [or that it is rather too convenient to assume that states change but essences don’t].  Spinoza is forced to argue that essences never change, and that he can  analyse them at any particular moment [and Deleuze says this does seem to contradict his notion of how people develop sadness, a fundamental change over time].  Spinoza is then forced to argue that particular states somehow do express essences, and also contain a capacity to change, to develop joy or sadness.  Deleuze says that what this means is that variation is only empirical, and can only effect empirical states [empirical is my word].  Something can emerge from relations between empirical states, such as an increased power of action, which can escalate to help us produce adequate ideas.  In this sense, ‘the external state [is] compounded by a happiness that depends on us alone’ (40) [the automaton again].

Existence is a test, but in the sense of an experiment.  We do not need God's judgment to decide what is Good and Evil.  We only judge ourselves and our particular states.  This is the basis of ethics, not moral judgment.  Essences are eternal and singular, but they coexist with empirical existence [handy!].  We recognize this ourselves when we think we have an intense part, expressing some eternal truths, and a set of extensive parts that happen to belong to us empirically.  If we can compose these parts and increase our power of action, this somehow helps the emergence of affections from the intense part, but if we destroy or decompose, this restricts the number of affections from within.

A good man is able to exist fully and intensely, ‘so that death, always extensive, always external, is of little significance to him’ (41).  We use our ethical tests to confirm our actions ‘here and now’ whether or not we have the correct relation between essences and states—it does not depend on final judgment nor on rewards and punishments, simply whether we have the right ‘chemical composition (the test of gold or clay)’ (41).

So we actually have three components—a singular eternal essence; characteristic relations and capacities ‘which are also eternal truths’; extensive parts relating to our empirical existence, which are able to realize our relations.  Badness only exists in the last stratum, and it depends how we use external factors.  If we destroy or decompose, we are simply not realizing our eternal capacities.  Badness does come from outside and it is necessary [always?], and takes the form of accidents or death which can interrupt realization.  None of these concern our eternal relations or essences.  The Ethics talks a lot about self destruction, where external parts appear to behave like foreign bodies inside, as in autoimmune diseases [ a current example,of course], or suicide—both are taken as examples of Spinoza’s underlying general model of poisoning.

So external parts are related to essences, but do not constitute them.  External affections can exist, and they can limit our processes of  realizing relations and essences, as in the analyses of sadness or joy.  Only joy is internal though, an aspect of our essence, helping us become autonomous.  So there are different relations with essences for joy and sadness.  We need external relations, however to become conscious of ourselves and of other things, both within and without [the former apparently includes a ‘third kind of knowledge, intuition’, 43].  In this way, by focusing on joy we can reduce evil to something which is at least ‘almost nothing’ in terms of our essences.

Chapter four Index of the Main Concepts of the Ethics

[Blimey!  Deleuze has invented the ‘key concepts’ format, complete with alphabetical order!  As always, though the alphabetical order means that the sequences are a bit random.  For example, the very first concept ‘absolute’ does not make a great deal of sense until you get on to ‘attribute’.  So I’m going to alter the alphabetical order a bit in a way that makes more sense to me.  If you like alphabetical order, you will have to cut and paste and rearrange.  I was tempted to borrow a technique from a writer that both Deleuze and Foucault like a lot—Roussel.  He would take a sentence, and then add comments on each word inside a bracket, and then add further brackets for each of those words and so on.  If we did that, we would fit in all the concepts, into one enormous paragraph, with a large number of nested parentheses—fun, but not very helpful.  We can only be grateful that Deleuze did not think of this first.  If I had the time, I would go back to my days as an educational technologist, and try to reorganise these concepts in a net—I’m tempted to say a two dimensional rhizome.  What you do is to count the number of times a concept gets mentioned.  Those that get the most mentions appear in the centre of the net, then you draw all the connections to the other concepts. I suppose WORDLE would do it as well.]

[The first few entries in particular explain the notion of the 'spiritual automaton' that Deleuze refers to as a form of automatic learning, especially in Cinema 2 -- this notion helps Badiou convict him of a highly non-personal and non-anarchistic machinism. The whole section is very non-humanist. Elsewhere, hints of the notions of the virtual, the multiplicity and the singularity leapt out at me, behind all the C17th philosophical terminology. Who knows if this is all 'really' in Spinoza or just the result of Deleuze's buggery of the old chap?]

[Overall, this was a hard slog that took days. I have put arguments in my own homely terms, but not précised them very much because I have not read Spinoza before. It might be some small gain in knowledge, or it might be one of Deleuze's strategies, but I think the discusion gets more critical towards the end, when we discuss things like MIND-BODY or NATURE]

ABSOLUTE.  Absolute substances have all the attributes.  There are still a bit mysterious though because each attribute is infinite in its kind, yet they still all refer to ‘the same, ontologically unary [sic]  Being’ (44).  Deleuze refers to this as a technique of displacement to infer Being. The absolute also refers to the powers of God, who both acts and thinks [and these are important powers that human beings know about—the powers of God exceeds human powers though].

ATTRIBUTES [out of alphabetical order, but more helpful if it comes next?].  These are what human beings attach to substances when they try to establish essences.  These are not just simple perceptions, which arconfined just to what is; they are not some additional qualities emanating from substances, because there is only one substance.  Attributes express essences [so this is where Deleuze gets this dubiously ambiguous notion of ‘expression’ from, which enables him to go on to say that things express themselves, not just humans, part of the project to dethrone human subjectivity].  The intellect perceives this expression.  The essences ultimately belong to absolute substance as above. 

Attributes, however are ‘distinct in reality’ (51), and self sufficient.  Spinoza identifies a substance for each attribute as a form of possibility, but human beings actually know only two—thought and extension, simply because we are mind and body.  However, God must be capable of contributing lots more attributes.

Attributes establish the essences of substance, and also the essences of MODE [one of several mentions of this concept, so I’m going to discuss it immediately below].  This seems to be arguing that human and divine attributes, say of extension, have the same form [but different modes?].  This sort of direct connection, helped Spinoza reject other notions of the linking of the empirical to the divine—including ‘immanence, equivocity, and analogy’ (52) [so this is very similar to Deleuze’s rejection of conventional thinking in Difference and Repetition].  It is the notion of [non divine] immanence that is being developed here, where ‘the same attributes are affirmed of the substance they compose and of the modes they contain’ (52).  These modes are going to help us explain cause and necessity.

MODE.  Relates to a form of being which appears in something else [Spinoza apparently calls it “the affections of a substance” (91)].  [This seems to include bodies, actual beings or actual people as in POWER below, with humans not given any special status of course]. This is contrasted to something which is being in itself, or substance.  Substances and modes are related in the same way that essences and properties, and causes and effects[a running problem -- see NATURE].  All arise through immanence ( so existing things are just modes of universal substance, it dawned on me eventually].  There are epistemological implications as well.  For example, essences have properties, but it would be wrong to think that the intellect alone can explain substances in terms of their essences and properties.  Instead, the substance explains itself, ‘expressing itself in the intellect’, and allowing the intellect to infer the essence through the properties that it expresses.  Modes are different from substances and essences, and yet they are produced as attributes that constitute the essence of substance [this delightful {!} ambiguity and weaselling  between difference and similarity runs through an awful lot of Deleuze—see my despairing notes on his commentary on Foucault for example]. 

Again, God produces an infinity of things and an infinity of modes, and some of them might appear empirically as cause and effect.  This makes [causes and?] effects things but of a rather fishy kind --  ‘real beings which have an essence and existence of their own, but do not exist and have no being apart from the attributes in which they are produced’ (91) [so we’ve still kept the idea of a univocal Being with its attributes, despite noticing causes and effects which appear to be different categories?].

Modes are not just produced by reason, as fictions [see below], but are original in their own right.  What makes them specific is ‘the type of infinite that corresponds to [them]’ (92).  There is an ‘immediate infinite mode’, which is an ‘infinite intellect in the case of thought, motion and rest in the case of extension’ (92), and what makes this infinite is that it is composed of an infinity of actual parts, such as actual ideas as part of intellect, bodies as elementary forces as parts of extension  The ‘mediate infinite mode is…  All the relations of motion and rest governing the determinations of the modes as existing [or in thought] the ideal relations governing the determinations of ideas’ (92).  Therefore finite or specific modes are not separate in essence from all the other essences in the immediate infinite mode above; do not exist separately from all the other existing modes as in the media infinite mode above; are not separate from the infinity of extensive parts that each existing mode possesses. [ I find this all pretty puzzling but I think it means you can consider modes as infinite multiplicities or as the more actualized singularities that are produced]

[Back to alphabetical order]

ABSTRACTIONS.  These are different from common notions [see below].  Common notions refer to things which bodies have in common, which allow them to affect each other.  Abstract ideas arise when we have to imagine rather than actually comprehend, when we know we are being affected in a way that exceeds the capacity to understand.  We have to rely on ‘an extrinsic sign, a variable perceptible characteristic that strikes our imagination, and that we set up as an essential trait while disregarding the others (man as an animal of erect stature, or as an animal that laughs…  etc.)’ (45) [pretty much a theory of ideology here].  Instead of understanding the unity of the composition, we rely on perceptible similarities and differences [as in positivism!] and we establish our own continuities and discontinuities, for example as ‘arbitrary analogies in Nature’.

Thus abstraction is a form of fiction, explaining things through images.  Similarly, ‘fiction presupposes abstraction’.  Inadequate ideas combine abstraction and fiction.  For example, fictitious abstractions include categories like ‘classes, species, and kinds’, where we attribute some generic characteristic to classify animals.  Spinoza suggests that we should categorize beings instead by their ‘capacity for being affected’ [see above], a classification of beings according to their power.  This will help us understand the relations between, say animals and human beings—animals which we eat, and animals which we use, depending on their capacity to be affected.

Secondly, number is an abstract idea, since it presupposes classes, kinds and species.  It is a useful fiction, however, but it does not tell us much about existing substance or modes.  In particular, it is inadequate to grasp the infinity of nature and the infinity of parts in bodies.  The third set of abstractions are the transcendental, where a particular characteristic is assumed to be transcendental, and is usually opposed to some characteristic of less value—‘(being/non being, unity/plurality, true/false…)’ (47).  We’ve already seen that, for example Good and Evil are really just abstracts of specific good and bad effects.

Spinoza specifically discusses ‘geometric beings’.  These are clearly abstract, found only in reason, measurable in order to aid thought, and also implying ‘a non being’ (47).  However, geometric beings are unusual in that they can be produced by actions [I think—for example we can produce a circle by fixing one end of the line and moving the other].  No actual circles in nature are produced like this, though, so there is no essence being expressed.  Even when ideas do match the way in which real things are produced, this is no guarantee of the truth of ideas—truth refers to the power of thinking alone.  However, thinking about geometric objects does develop our powers of comprehension, and even thought about the possible power of God, who might ultimately be responsible for them.  At the divine level, there is no need for fiction or abstraction, and ideas do correspond to real things.  Thinking of the geometric methods does help us see what COMMON NOTIONS might look like, and how they are related to the imagination.

[So let’s look at...]

COMMON NOTIONS ‘represent[s] something common to bodies [not minds]’ (54).  This makes them general not abstract [so immediately heading in the wrong direction for Deleuze].  There is a connection here with the idea of a composition between two bodies, so a common notion represents some real combination between bodies: ‘Its meaning is more biological than mathematical’ (54), and the idea in the mind is secondary—only arising once bodies have been affected.

However, all bodies have in common ‘extension, motion and rest’ (55), and can be combined from the point of view of the mediate infinite mode above.  However, differences and oppositions can also be formed [presumably because bodies also have things where they disagree, in the finite?].

Common notions are therefore adequate, emerging from the real process of composition.  The problem is how we might form them.  Spinoza seems to suggest at first  that : we start with the most general and head to the least general, in order to understand the disagreement at less general levels.  Here, the assumption is that common notions are given.  However, we can also form them by encountering other bodies, but initially inadequately, since we mostly experience joy or sadness  not knowledge as such.  Indeed, only joy motivates us to explore common notions—‘it is an occasional cause of the common notion’ (55).

Therefore, man is not born rational but can become rational.  Following reason means first trying to organize good encounters to achieve joy, and second trying to develop common notions, and then further notions that follow from them, to become active in seeking experiences.  We have to avoid sadness.

This is why the first common notions are usually the least general ones, the reverse of the suggestion above, the ones arising from specific encounters.  These can produce joy which in turn encourages a more active exploration.  Then we develop more general notions, which can encompass relations with other bodies even where they do not produce joy.  This then produces a [higher] kind of active joy [some sort of intellectual joy or mastery type joy?].  This second approach is developed in the Ethics, and offers a new basis for adequate ideas, not abstract or fictional geometric ideas but the experiences of the real.

Common notions do not extend to grasping essences.  As adequate ideas, however, which must ultimately belong to God, they can give us an idea of God.  Ultimately, God is what all modes have in common.  Like all common notions, God produces affects in the form of religious feeling.  However, God is more than just a common notion, but an essence, uniting the different modes.  By following the implications, we get to the stage where we are beginning to understand the essence of God and the connection with essences of real beings.  This does involve going beyond rationality as such and developing ‘the intuitive intellect as a system of essential truths (sometimes called CONSCIOUSNESS [of God and the divine?])’ (58).  There is an element of imagination too in moving from specific notions to general ones—we recognize the images of bodies.  The images are not adequate ideas in themselves, but need to be explained through common notions.  However, without images, imagination, we would not subsequently develop common notions.

CONSCIOUSNESS.  This is where we duplicate ideas, develop ‘the idea of the idea’ (59).  Ideas represent objective attributes, but become attributes themselves so they can be represented by another idea.  Consciousness therefore has three aspects: (A) reflection, but defined rather oddly as ‘the reflection of the idea in the mind’ [nothing to do with individual thinking subjects] (59); (B) consciousness is derived from ideas and can only work with what the idea gives them; (C) ideas of ideas relate to ideas in the same way that ideas relate to objects.

Consciousness ‘is completely immersed in the unconscious’.  We only become conscious of ideas in particular conditions, and we can never become as conscious as God is—it all depends on empirical encounters with external bodies first.  We don’t only think with ideas, but conatus too [defined here as an aspect of POWER, an appetite which can ‘persevere in existing’].  This is revealed  through affects but also modes of thinking [some kind of persisting pattern that forces itself into thought?].  These affections enable us to reflect back on the idea.  The conatus when it becomes conscious, produces desire: becoming conscious of the conatus is motivated by the affections it produces [see POWER below].

Consciousness naturally deals with inadequate ideas, and this produces two illusions—the illusion of freedom, where consciousness imagines it is free rather than an effect, and that it exercises power over the body;’ the theological illusion of finality’, where consciousness grasps the ideas of affections as primary, ultimately the result of a provident God.  Apart from anything else, this last one produces the illusion that ‘the desire appears to be secondary in relation to the idea of the thing judged good’ (60).

Actually, consciousness has no power by itself [the example is the perception of the sun as a small object close to—in this way, inadequate ideas can still generate something that appear as a positive].  Spinoza seems to be suggesting that it is these inadequate ideas that can lead nevertheless to further inquiry and the pursuit of adequate ideas, a proper understanding of ideas and their relations to attributes, and thus the dispelling of illusions.  This in turn permits us to be more active, and eventually to become conscious of God and one’s self.  The final result will be ‘to make these ideas reflect themselves in us just as they are in God’ (61). [the 3 stages of the spiritual automaton]

POWER.  God’s power is not potestas [roughly,naked power to force people] as with earthly rulers.  Nor does God think up possibilities which he then realizes through his will.  Instead, all consequences follow from God’s essence, from what he comprehends.  God’s essence is not potestas but potentia,  something active.  Divine power is a power to exist and produce things, and also to comprehend, as in the two parts of the ABSOLUTE.  This is not the same as the more empirical forms of extension and thought [which we can just about deduce from the above].

Thus power is inseparable from a capacity to be affected.  This capacity is always realized by and in affections.  There is therefore a kind of implicit potestas in potentia after all.  Modes [actual beings -- see above] are essentially degrees of power.  Human power is part of God’s infinite power, and in the same way, modes come into existence in the form of an infinite collection of extensive parts.  It is this process that produces conatus or appetite—because modes retain in their essences something which does not immediately pass into existence. In this sense, a mode perseveres, or endures. [clear hints of the idea of a multiplicity or singularity then?]

This also implies a capacity to be affected, a further implication of the term conatus.  With  substances, active affections fill this capacity, [where affections are the images of affects?], produced by other modes.  This makes the conatus ‘determined to do this or that by an affection…  that occurs to it’ (99), through the development of consciousness.  The conatus is an essential component of the mode, a determination to maintain existence.  At one level, this can be understood since the essence of modes are parts of divine power.  But at the more concrete level there is an interaction between modes, composition and decomposition as above.

Thus existing modes can develop ‘a struggle of powers’ (100), which is inherent in nature, and death can arise from that exposure to the exterior and the possibility of composition and decomposition.  However, when the modes die, they are only lose their extensive parts, not their unrealized essence [their virtual bits]   Indeed, we cannot get to essences simply by looking at how long things have persevered [and apparently vice versa].  This implies that the intensive parts of the mode agree with the other modes, but not their extensive parts. 

[The possible combinations produce joy and sadness and all that as before].  In sadness, our whole power as conatus is aimed at destroying the object, reacting to it.  The conatus generally wants to experience joy and increase its power of acting.  This is what unites the various definitions of conatus—something that wants to preserve itself, something dynamic that wishes to increase its powers, something dialectical that opposes that which will oppose it.

However, considerable variations in actually existing relations are inevitable.  Again, the powers are being affected can vary, for example, as we age.  Nevertheless existing modes have a right to survive and expand, although individuals have different powers: both rational and foolish people strive to persevere, but they have different powers.  In this way, the conatus can be realized in different actions—sometimes we have to persevere in existing by taking risks, or destroy things which threaten our joy, and this can compromise the joys we feel.  There is always the risk of encountering something more powerful that will destroy us, or more hostile modes.  Reason can guide us in actively pursuing adequate ideas that will produce joy.  This is Virtue, even if it does end in death.  Only Reason leads to virtue, not imagination

So the mode also has a two fold power, of existing and thinking.  Seeking experiences and encounters produces a more capable mind, but our powers limit our options.  Nevertheless, we can ‘become causes of our own affects and masters of our adequate perceptions’ (104) [this is how the automaton works] [very like JS Mill again?].  When we maximize our powers, we become aware of the absolute power of God, an awareness that ‘the mode's power is a part of God’s power…  Insofar as God’s essence is explained by the mode's essence’ (104).

In this way, the whole of the Ethics is really about power, as opposed to morality.

CAUSE.  Spinoza begins by discussing the notion of ‘cause of itself’.  Deleuze tells us the usual way of proceeding was to see analogies between different types of causes, especially cause of itself and ‘efficient causality’, a more specific cause associated with a distinct effect.  Spinoza wants to see the general kind as ‘the archetype of all causality’ (53).

With efficient causes, causes are separate from effects, having both difference essences and existences.  The only thing causes have in common with the effects is ‘the attribute, in which the effect is produced and by which the cause acts’.  God produces these attributes, which expresses essence, and so God is the cause of all things as well as himself: ‘he produces in the same way that he exists’, which preserves the university of attributes and their relation to substances.  This is how a general cause is the cause of everything else. Finite things can relate to other finite things as a cause, but they do not relate separately or vertically to God—God is involved from the start.  In this sense, ‘the cause is essentially immanent; that is, it remains in itself in order to produce’ (54). [This is the bit Althusser liked as a way of weaselling round the issue of economic determinism?]

AFFECTIONS, AFFECTS.  Affections are modes of substance or its attributes, and are necessarily active, since they emanate from God as adequate cause as above.  They also designate modifications of the mode, ‘the effects of other modes on it’, acting as ‘images or corporeal traces first of all’ (48).  The ideas of them, in the form of imagination initially, however, refer to both the affected body and the affecting external body. Once we have formed these ideas, we can progress—‘we pass to a greater or lesser perfection’.  We also experience durations.  Durations or variations of perfection ‘are called “affects”, or feelings’ (49).

It looks like affections refer to bodies, while affects refer to minds, but there are other differences—the imaginary relation links both bodies and ideas, while affects act on bodies and minds alike.  The real difference is that affection refers to the state of the affected body, implying an external body acting on it, while affects refer to [arise from?]  ‘the passage from one state to another’ (49).  Affections are associated with image or idea, and affects with feelings of increased or diminished power, which can then be represented by ideas or affections [!]. [Maybe what this is saying is that we feel affects first, but they are not just feelings?]

Affects can be recognized in a confused form, as in ‘a passion of the mind’, a simple affirmation of increase or decrease of force.  Proper affects are ‘not indicative or representative’, since they require a transition or duration, grasping  differences.  This is not an intellectual grasping, not a comparison of ideas, but a greater or lesser involvement in reality (49).[What the fuck is that then --something beyond mere ideas or feeble imaginations? Naive realism?]

Modes vary in their capacity to be affected, and can undergo good and bad encounters, which lead to greater or lesser perfection.  [There is almost a simple arithmetic here, where the power of modes can be added or subtracted].  We know already that this is experienced as ‘an affect, or feeling’ (50) of joy or sadness. But these affects have external causes, mediated through the capacity to be affected.

If feelings or affects are recognized as coming from external encounters, we can explain them.  They do not come from us, so they can be called ‘passions, since we are not their adequate cause’ (50).  [seems to describe the way in which passions are commonly seen to overwhelm us, affect us despite our will, arising from somewhere outside?].  Joy is a passion in this sense.  In the process, we recognize that we already have inadequate ideas of both the external and our own bodies [as in being forced to think?]  If we do not understand this, we are still passive. 

However, the link between the passion of joy and action is more productive than for sadness as we saw.  This can help us develop adequate ideas instead of confused images, as long as we recognize what is going on [grasping the essence of bodies and God ultimately].  Such development means we can fully understand the power of what is happening, and achieve the state of blessedness [full powers, unity with God, = recognition of the multiplicity, the joy for Deleuze?].

METHOD.  Method is about understanding how we know things, becoming conscious of this power, being able to develop ‘an idea of the idea’ as we saw above.  This still requires us to try and develop true ideas in the first place, and ‘it matters little which idea; it can be an idea that involves a fiction, such as that of a geometric being’ (83).

As this implies, Spinoza’s method starts with geometry.  Geometric ideas are fictional, that is they do not represent anything in nature.  We can also begin with substances, in Spinoza’s later work, and develop common notions as we saw—these are not fictional.  We then attempt to form ideas of these ideas.  However, these metaideas [I am going to call them] have an inner content which is not just a representative [or induced] content, since they are also produced by the power of knowing itself.  This power acts as a kind of cause again.  It is this that makes metaideas adequate [I’m reminded of Weber’s two kinds of adequacy here, one relating to the objects, and the other to social theories].

This leads Spinoza to argue that geometric beings have causal or genetic definitions which determine all the properties, and, later, to develop the notion of a single substance from the ideas of particular substances each with its attribute.  As usual, we go from knowledge of the thing to knowledge of its cause.  However, a further step is required, not just some [empirical, inductive] collection of the properties of things, but a view of an essence as the reason for all the knowable properties.  The point is to get as quickly as possible to this essence.  In Spinoza’s terminology, of course, it is the idea of God.

Getting to this essential level involves a considerable change.  Once there, we can leave behind fictions, and we can also leave behind  ‘the synthetic method’ [the way of combining particular attributes to try and get to some underlying essence?].  Once we get to God, we can pursue by contrast  ‘a progressive deduction in which all ideas connect with one another starting from the idea of God’ (85). The procedure is like the development of common notions, except that the essence is not itself a common notion.  Once we have achieved the level of thought required, however, we have no need to generalize [empirically, inductively] , but instead can trace explanatory paths ‘from the essence of God to the essences of things as real singular beings’ (85).  [Philosophy beats empirical studies. Get up to the multiplicity then back down again].

This is also a way of avoiding classifying things by what they represent: instead there is some ‘autonomous order’ connecting things together [arrived at by a form of transcendental deduction -- or abduction?].  This escalation of ways of thinking, from induction to working ideas to philosophizing [from ‘reflexive – formal aspects’, and ‘expressive – material aspects’ to an overall ‘progressive – synthetic’ method, 85] explains why Spinoza thinks the mind operates as a spiritual automaton—‘since by unfolding the autonomous order of its own ideas it unfolds the order of things represented’ (85) [I’m still not convinced.  The whole thing seems to depend on some underlying drive to knowledge or search for joy I suppose.  Why else would we unfold? Does this affect everyone or just philosophers?].

The early work on the geometric method helps us get to the first two levels.  At the first level, the fictional character of geometric beings gives us a bit more freedom to get to genetic definitions [I think]. At the next level, common notions can develop a ‘deep affinity’ with geometric beings [I am not at all sure why, except that geometric shapes can be seen in real life, and even used in practical skills?].  This is why Spinoza calls his method a geometrical one, since it leads particularly to the second level of knowledge and the common notions.  However, at the third stage, there might be a problem.  Common notions have to be surpassed, and apparently, Spinoza suggests how this might happen through an argument that ‘likens demonstrations to “eyes of the mind”’ (86).  [geometrical definitions as proofs?  These transcend commonsense reasoning?].  In any event, geometric methods apparently can reach this third level [possibly by encouraging the development in the intellect which ‘imparts to the geometric methods sufficient force to go beyond its ordinary limits, ridding it of the fictions and even the generalities that accompany its restricted use’ (86).  It is certainly true that Euclidean geometry did lead to far more philosophical geometries, as DeLanda explains].

SUBSTANCE.  Something of which the concept does not require another concept.  Something that is in itself and is conceived through itself.  This rules out multiple substances which could be conceived or understood in some other ways above, forming common notions and the rest of it.  Even numerical distinctions are not real.  It follows from this that substance also confers ‘unicity, self causality, infinity, and necessary existence on each qualified substance’ (109), in other words, producing different attributes in different substances [empirical or actual substances, that is] the real connection between substance and its various actual manifestations is best understood as ‘the qualitative multiplicity or a formal – real distinction’ (109).

Since Spinoza is unhappy about numerical distinctions, he refers to a substance as ‘absolutely singular’ [rather than as One] , possessing all the distinct attributes, and the infinite essences which are expressed by these attributes.  The distinction between the formal and the real should not be seen as denying the absolute ontological unity of substance ‘on the contrary it constitutes that unity’ (109).

SIGN.  Signs are produced by the apparent separation of effects from causes.  When something causes an effect on us, we do not experience it at the level of essences, but rather ‘in terms of a momentary state of our variable constitution and the simple presence of the thing whose nature we do not know’ (105).  We recognize an indicative sign [indicative of this cause and effect].  Signs are always effects of mixtures, indicating the state of our body, and the presence of an external body as a secondary stage.  This is the origin of conventional signs and language. The system of signs is equivocal because signs can take on variable meanings according to the chains in which they are embedded [I think, 106].

Signs can be causes, in another sense, where the proper relation between cause and effect is not understood.  Back to the example of God’s advice to Adam, leading Adam to see the moral law as or cause, and God’s intervention as a sign.  This is a typical example of how a moral law actually arises from confused understandings, and, once established as a law, limits further understandings.  Laws are seen as limit on power instead of an opportunity to develop them [unlike geometric proofs].  Eternal truths become imperatives.  A whole additional class of signs emerges—‘imperative signs, or effects of revelation; they have no other meaning than to make us obey’ (106).  Theology is complicit in confusing obeying and knowing.

Signs can also be external guarantees for these mystified moral laws, as when prophets see events as signs, indicating communications from God.  These are ‘interpretive’ signs—for Spinoza ‘effects of superstition’ (107).

Together, signs can form an ‘essentially equivocal language of imagination’, to be contrasted with the ‘natural language of philosophy, composed of univocal expressions’ (107).  Overall, signs are inadequate ideas, requiring interpretation by the imagination.  They’re not ‘expressions  amenable to explications by the lively intellect’ (107).

SOCIETY.  [So far, the missing dimension.  Up until now, when Spinoza and Deleuze talk about bodies interacting, they presumably mean as a dyad?  There is no discussion of what might be seen as social pressures on consciousness, merely a language of error, and an implicit elitism where philosophers congratulate themselves for developing adequate ideas.  Actually, we start, as might have been anticipated with naive functionalism].  A group of men combine their respective powers to produce a ‘more powerful whole’ (107).  The state can also defend individuals against the risk of encountering destructive forces.  The state ‘resembles the state of reason, and yet it only resembles it, prepares for it, or takes its place’ (107).  According to Reason, men should compose groups themselves using ‘intrinsic relations…  common notions…  and the active feelings that follow from them (in particular, freedom, firmness, generosity [piety and religiosity])’ (107).  [more like an idealized market then, or a utilitarian civil society?].

In actual states, there is also an ‘extrinsic order, determined by passive feelings of hope and fear’ (107), where hope and fear are defined as fear of remaining in a state of nature and hope of emerging from it.  In the state of Reason, law, as an eternal truth, can be the natural guide for the development of each individual.  In the civil state, or law restrains and limits individuals, acting as a moral law as above.

Nevertheless, civil states have to preserve natural rights, both as a form of legitimacy, and also because it is affections and passions that provide social solidarity, not common notions.  In particular, it is common affections like the hope of rewards and fear of punishment [and they need regulation?]. However, these can determine natural rights, through the conatus [very convenient] and establish some kind of collective existence [we move from primeval war of all against all to some kind of regulation] .  In other words, Spinoza has a contract theory, working in two stages: (A) men give up their individual powers for the benefit of the whole which they agree to let regulate conduct in the interests of hope and fear; (B), this power then gets transferred to a state: in democracy, this tends to see the main affection of reason as the love of freedom rather than the old fears and hopes [despite all his excellent reasoning elsewhere, he reproduces the banality of a contract view!! I wonder if this also inspired Deleuze's oscillations between total control and anarchism?]

[Might as well round up the rest. Sorry this is taking so long...]

DEFINITION, DEMONSTRATION.  The definition is a statement about what is distinctive about a thing in itself.  This must be a matter of the essence of the thing.  There are both nominal and real definitions: the first ones use abstractions or PROPRIA, or formal definitions like geometric ones relating to circles.  These are all extrinsic, but real ones are genetic, ‘they state the cause of the thing, or its genetic elements’ (61).  So Spinoza defines desire as appetite and consciousness, but proceeds to the real level by adding the cause of this consciousness, the affections.  Even God can have a genetic definition because he is the cause of himself.

In the case of God, the real definition is a priori, but most [all?] real definitions are a posteriori, using bodily capacity to define something after the event.  Although capacity and power are essential, we only know what they’re like once we have experienced affections.  There are some things that have real and nominal definitions such as geometric figures, which are abstract ideas formed from common notions.

Once we have a definition, we can proceed to demonstration [argument?] by deducing the properties of the thing defined.  This necessarily involves other objects and external things and their relations.  With real definitions, we can capture essential movements internal to the thing, independently of these external relations.  ‘It is the thing that “explains itself” in the intellect, and not the intellect that explains the thing’ (62).

DURATION.  Existing modes have duration, that is they exist over time from the beginning.  The essence of things is that they have a tendency to persevere, but no end can be assigned to a thing in advance either by essences or causes—so duration is indefinite continuation.  Death is a form of external relation as we saw.  Duration ‘is made up of the lived transitions that define its affects, constant passages to greater or lesser perfections, continual variations of the existing mode’s power of acting’ (63).  Eternity is not indefinite duration, because eternity has no beginning [and there is a suggestion that the relation with duration is like the natural difference between parts that exist in bodies and parts that express their essence].

EMINENCE.  People attribute to God properties that really belong to human consciousness, and assume that God must possess them in some perfect form—infinite justice, infinite understanding and so on. Apart from other problems, this makes the attributes equivocal [some are seen as divine and some not?].  However, attributes must be univocal for Spinoza.  The attributes in God are the same form as the attributes in the modes, but the essence of God is not the essence of the modes.  We need this distinction to explain substance as it appears in the modes, yet retains its unity.  The notion of eminence is anthropomorphic, extrinsic [as is consciousness] and imaginary, based on equivocal signs [Deleuze sees exactly the same arguments being made against analogy—no doubt because eminence involves one between humans and God]

ESSENCE.  Something which is so integral to a thing, that the thing not be conceived without it, and vice versa.  This means that the same attribute cannot have several different substances, each of which would be capable of conceiving of the thing.  The essence is not the same in substance and in a mode, since substance can be conceived without modes, but not vice versa.  Attributes constitute the essence of substance, but not the essence of modes, ‘which merely involve the attributes’ (64).

Even modes that do not exist are still comprehended in the idea of God, equally with those that do exist, so they are ‘themselves real and actual beings’ (65)[reminiscent of Deleuze's own rejection of the notion of possibilities, although he also cites Leibniz?] .

The essence of substance happens to include the property of existence.  The same very interesting and convenient characteristic links substance to attributes.  Attributes necessarily express existence as the essence of substance: ‘the attributes are so many forces of existing and acting, while essence is an absolutely infinite power of existing and acting’ (65).  Modal essences are different.  They are singular, even though they are also a part of God’s power.  Modal essences ‘are simple and eternal’, but these essences are not just logical possibilities nor geometric structures, but ‘parts of power, unlike intensive quantities that are composed of smaller quantities.  They are all compatible with one another without limit, because all are included in the production of each one, but each one corresponds to a specific degree of power different from all the others’ (65) [such a weaselly definition that you can explain any correspondence and any difference between two modes, without in the least contradicting your self!]

ETERNITY.  That part of existence ‘involved by essence’ (65), an eternal part of existence, not like duration, which relates to the non essential parts of the mode.  However, modes do have essences, and so they do have ‘a certain form of eternity’, because they exist through God [the immediate infinite mode as above].  Even mediate infinite modes can be considered as eternal because they are produced by eternal rules of composition and decomposition, and each relation is an eternal truth in this sense.  In particular, the mind can be eternal because it partakes of this form of eternity as a body, but also because it manages to grasp something more in the form of common notions, eternal relations.

The relations that produce duration are themselves eternal, not subject to duration.  Apparently, and rather conveniently again, our minds are able to grasp the eternity of an essence somehow directly, intensively, whereas we understand duration as something that only temporarily relates to a substance.  [Well we would, wouldn’t be, because we’ve just defined it that way!  It is a marvel how the operations of the mind just happen to reflect what goes on in reality and in Spinoza's philosophy!]

[Apparently, Spinoza is responsible for the term sub species aeternitas, usually translated as ‘from the perspective of eternity’].  The term species refers to a concept or a knowledge, while it is an idea that operates from the perspective of eternity, to grasp the essence of a body or the truth of things.  Essences and eternal truths are eternal ‘through their cause and not through themselves…  ‘ (67), so they must be conceived through this cause [that is through an idea of the cause?].  Of course, we might expect the usual ambiguity: ‘therefore species [also actually] signifies form and idea, form and conception, indissolubly’ (67).

EXISTENCE.  Given all the weaselling above, it is not surprising to find that essence and existence cannot be separated [since they implicate each other so tightly] except as a form of reason, when we wish to distinguish ‘the thing affirmed from its affirmation’ (67) [and when on earth might we wish to do this?  Only most of the time, I would have thought, but not when we are philosophizing]. However, there is a difference it seems:  ‘modal essences do not involve existence’, but once in existence, modes affect each other finitely.  However this is not a real distinction between essence and existence, since it only operates with modes [silly me, valuing the empirical again].

As far as finite modes are concerned, they exist when they have existing external causes; when they have an infinity of extensive parts which produce specific combinations as a result of outside causes; when they endure or persevere, by maintaining the specific combinations.  This implies that the infinity of expressive parts, which are managed by specific combinations, can be seen as the essence of the mode, including the mind [I can only understand this rhubarb in terms of the multiplicity again—singular modes are affected in their actual existence by nice concrete material forces, but they also have infinite other parts which have not yet been actualized, but which are still real.  Focus on the singularity and you get existence, focus on the multiplicity and you get essences and eternity?].  This is why there is no real difference between essence and existence, since both exist necessarily [as a formal—real relation as above?].

EXPLAIN – IMPLY (EXPLICARE, IMPLICARE).  We have to remember that for Spinoza , explanation arises from the thing having an effect on the intellect.  So explication is always self explication, an unfolding: ‘the thing explains itself’ (68).  It seems a nicely circular process—substance is explained in the attributes, the attributes explain substance in turn, and they are explained in the modes which also explain them.  We can also join together implication and explication since ‘that which explains thereby implies’ (68).  Since everything is comprehended by everything else, it’s not surprising that explication and implication are identical, and Spinoza suggests that we might see this as some sort of proof of God—he complicates [explicates?]  all things, while 'each thing explains and implies God’ (68)

There is one exception, the inadequate idea, which we can comprehend, but which does not itself result from comprehension, is not explained by it [and is a poor guide to understanding comprehension?] .  Inadequate ideas always operate with mixtures of things, and can never get to the level of comprehending causes.  Building on the ambiguity of comprehension, which can also mean comprising or containing, Deleuze goes on to say that the intellect comprehends the attributes and the modes, and the adequate idea comprehends the nature of the thing.  Thus, happily ‘”what is contained objectively in the intellect must necessarily be in nature”’ (69), so that grasping something in the intellect is to match thought to existence, not to conceive of possibilities.

FREEDOM.  Freedom is traditionally seen as related to the will and to being able to choose or create, or carry something into effect.  This gives problems when thinking of God’s freedom—who must therefore be some sort of legislator, something fickle who can choose something else, or someone who can only carry out something that already exists.  For Spinoza, the will can never be a cause on its own, since it is always determined by another cause [the JS Mill bit above].  Indeed, neither the intellect nor the will are free causes, in the sense that they do not exist in a necessarily self sufficient state.  Only God does, which makes him the source of all the other kinds of causes, and which gives him alone freedom, as a necessity arising from his essence. 

Only essences provide real freedom, and so modes are never free because they must always refer to something else.  Ordinary consciousness can provide an illusory sense of freedom by misunderstanding this, as we saw above.  The poor old mode can either form a common notion, necessarily involving a relation with the other modes, or can insist on an essence which then must agree with the essence of God and all other essences.  These are the only adequate ideas, and they do provide a form of freedom, or at least liberation, as we saw.  Thus human beings can only become free by freeing themselves from the flaws of ordinary consciousness, and pursuing adequate ideas which produce joy.  In this sense, human beings discover their own essences.  Thus ‘Freedom is always linked to essence’ (71) [This comes very close to Badiou’s critique of Deleuze as being fatalistic, trying only to find the way in which nature works and submitting to it, and that only after a massive effort to develop adequate ideas].

GOOD – BAD.  These are clearly related together, and also related to specific modes.  They reflect the variation of the powers discussed above, so that everything that increases our power is good and so on.  Alternatively, ‘what is good is what is useful, what is bad is what is harmful’ (71)— Deleuze says this as an original contribution of what counts as useful and harmful.

Thus good and bad arises from actual encounters between existing modes.  Death is an encounter that decomposes my body, Adam misunderstood God,  poison is the kind of underlying model for evil.  When I act maliciously ‘I join the image of an action to the image of an object that cannot bear this action without losing its constitutive relation’ [I imagine a priest masturbating?] (72).

Spinoza undertook a constant struggle against sadness, which puts him in the same lineage as Nietzsche.  Even remorse and guilt, even hope and security should be dismissed because they signify powerlessness [philosophers as heroes again] .  Knowledge of our powers of acting is the greatest good, and this is what makes reason good: once we have developed sufficient reason, we can move away from thinking of immediate good and bad to think instead of potency and virtue.  It is a mistake to try instead to seek some all purpose Good, the ‘finalist illusion’ (73).  The absolute values of good and evil are meaningless, produced by imagination as a misinterpretation of social signs of reward and punishment.

IDEA.  This is a way of thinking related to other modes of thinking, for example, an idea of a state of things which has affects attached to it.  Ideas represent.  We have ideas, but we are also an idea ourselves, founded in God.  Mostly, ideas represent what happens to our body, and ‘are necessarily inadequate’ (73).  Images are  ‘traces of an external body of our body’ and the ideas we have are therefore ideas of images or of feelings.  In this way, ideas are signs, indicating states, indicating the presence of bodies and their relations.

We can connect these ideas together, though.  First of all in terms of memory or habit, where one idea helps us to recollect another one.  If our encounters with other bodies are inconstant, so will be our ideas.  The imagination constructs fictions, and also dubious abstractions like that of species and kind [which are formed in a kind of primitive positivism, relating surface appearances?].

Adequate ideas however are different, true, the same for us as for God.  They do not represent states of things, but relate to ‘what we are and…  what things are’ (74).  They are more systematically organized around the idea of ourselves, the idea of God, and the idea of other things.  They arise from our power of knowing and comprehending from our essence, as a formal cause. They are connected autonomously in thought, and ‘this connection…  which unites form and material is an order of the intellect that constitutes the mind as a spiritual automaton’ (74).

Ideas have internal properties, a logical power not a psychological consciousness.  We want to generate ideas which express rather than represent.  Thought operates through explication, expression, the notions of formal and material causes, and logical power.  The autonomy of thoughts is linked to ‘the automatism of the mind that thinks’ (75) [I never noticed the connection between autonomy and automatism before!  The mind achieves autonomy by silencing the inadequate efforts of consciousness, and letting matter impact on it and generate ideas automatically?].

So inadequate ideas are not formally laid out and explained, especially the premises for them, the causes.  They arise as a result of ‘fortuitous encounters’ not systematic connections (75).  They do have something positive about them though, as we saw with the example of perception of the sun above—the inadequate idea ‘involves the lowest degree of the power of understanding, without being explained by it, and indicate its own cause without expressing it’ (75).  So imagination is fine insofar as it goes, but it needs to be developed into an idea—for example it is quite possible to imagine nonexistent things like winged horses.

So how to obtain adequate ideas?  Through common notions first.  However ideas are always followed by ‘feelings – affects’.  In this terminology, ideas cause feelings and affects [which guide us towards further knowledge and towards virtue, as we saw].  With adequate ideas, we can ourselves be ‘the adequate cause of the feelings that result, and that consequently are active…  On the contrary, insofar as we have inadequate ideas, we are the inadequate cause of our feelings, which are passions’ (76).

INDIVIDUAL.  Sometimes this means a unity between ideas and objects.  However, normally there is more complexity in the way modes are organized.  Modes have essences which relate to the degree of power is.  Essences are expressed in relation towards existing things, such as motion and rest in extension.  Modes take on actual existence by being able to organize an infinity of extensive parts in the form of particular relations.  Apparently, this works ‘through the operation of an external determinism’ (76).  Modes cease to exist when they encounter relations that make their parts incompatible.  At the essential level, the powers of the modes agree with each other, but they ‘necessarily come into conflict in existence’ (77).

The individual is composed of actualizations of an infinity of extensive parts [which I think of as the multiplicity again].  The parts themselves have no essence but are entirely empirical and extensive [which is what I think ‘defined solely by their exterior determinism’ means].  They are found in infinite sets, which vary in size [I think each part varies in size from greater to a lesser?].  When modes relate, their parts can combine or decompose each other.  We can also consider nature as an individual, although one which possesses all the relations and all the intensive parts.

Thus, ‘individuation is always quantitative, according to Spinoza’ (77), when we think of it as being produced in a mode.  However, essences can also produce a kind of individuation, ‘defined by their singularity of each degree of power as a simple intensive part’.  This is matched by the actually existing bits  which have a set of extensive parts that temporarily actualize modal essences.  [I don’t think Deleuze ever satisfactorily explains how this actualization arises, even in difference and repetition, where we ramble endlessly around individuation, explication, involution and various other processes that really just support each other by using different expressions and metaphors].

INFINITE.  There are three kinds.  There is a natural infinite relating to the necessary eternity of the properties of being.  Secondly, things which are unlimited because of their cause as in the immediate infinite mode [see above]—when we abstract, we make particular attributes limited and external, and we also limit duration and existence [so when we abstract, we are in effect actualizing, about the only example which is clear,and,maybe, the hidden anthropomorphic basis for all the non-human processes?].  Thirdly, the infinite refers to number, to a notion of minimum and maximum, found in finite existing modes and relating to their power.  However, modes also possess an infinity of extensive parts, in the sense that they cannot be numbered in advance [because in practice, some modes will possess a higher degree of power than others, based on their ability to marshal more extensive parts from the infinity—I think, 79].  Again we can perform the process of abstraction, assessing matters of existence, [extensive dimensions], permitting us to measure, count and so on, proceeding from ‘an arbitrarily determined number of parts’ (79).

[And some puzzling gnomic thoughts to end this section: ‘there is no indefinite that is not abstractly conceived.  Every infinite is actual’ (79).  I can grasp this in terms of the multiplicity again.  It is the multiplicity that produces a certain lack of definition or indefiniteness in actual objects.  The last sentence makes no sense to me.  If it were that every infinite is real, I could see that that would conform to the usual view that the virtual is also real.  But does ‘every infinite is actual’ mean that every multiplicity is capable of actualization?  That every multiplicity always has an actual dimension?].

INTELLECT (INFINITE INTELLECT, IDEA OF God).  The intellect is only a mode of the attribute of thought, and cannot be any guide to what the essence of God might be, any more than will.  It is anthropomorphic to suggest otherwise, and leaves people with a difficulty in explaining just how God is different—more of an intellect, perhaps, or one that came first?  This involves analogy again, and ‘equivocal language’ (79) [the example refers to the ambiguity of words with different referents—presumably, the equivocity in this case arises from using the same words to refer to the human and the divine?]

God is not a legislator with a divine intellect or will.  God’s intellect reflects his essence—he must understand himself since he produces all forms including those with which we and he understand.  Deleuze says this also implies that ‘the possible does not exist, that all that is possible is necessary’ (79), since God does not operate with contingencies: he has no need because he must understand everything that follows from his own essences, including himself and the things he does.  However, Spinoza introduces some inconsistency here.  [I am not at all sure I understand these arguments.  One is that there seems to be a problem with thinking about the infinite intellect as producing everything, and at the same time, existing as a modal being—the problem seems to be that there’s no reason for God/substance to undergo actualization at all, which I think is a problem with Deleuze as well.  What produces forms?  The only answer we get is that they seem to arise as an attribute of thought—‘the idea of God is the idea in its objective being, and the infinite intellect is the same idea considered in its formal being’ (80)—in other words, the virtual and the actual are the same thing, and it’s no good Spinoza/Deleuze constantly asserting that they are not]. 

The same problem arises if we consider human intellect as an integral part of the divine intellect/nature of substance.  It has to be both the same and different [to use the terminology for the problems I’ve been raising throughout].  It has to be the same because we want to link the two sorts of intellect, as a guarantee for an adequate idea.  However, when it comes to knowing God, the idea of adequacy changes, because we can never know as much as God knows/all the attributes of substance.  We have to operationalize, but this is the definition of an inadequate idea [I’m using almost entirely my own terminology here to translate a really dense bit on page 81].  The only way we can move above this is by [the transcendental deduction], trying to ‘objectively comprehend the corresponding attributes as they are formally’ (81).  Deleuze seems to be arguing that this is the only way to get the spiritual automaton going—first by seeing God in inadequate terms, gradually  developing common notions of him, but then having to consider him ‘according to its own being insofar as we are a part of it’ (81).  [I am not scholar enough to do this, but I reckon if you read either Spinoza or Deleuze carefully enough, you would find the problems of the same and the different, reconciling the two levels following the strategies originally identified by Hindess and Hirst in Marxism.  You either have to be dogmatic or incoherent.  Lots of my specific notes on lumps of Deleuze certainly suggest both].

KNOWLEDGE (KINDS OF -).  Knowledge is ‘the affirmation of the idea in the mind’, remembering that is the thing that reveal something of itself in us.  Once the idea has arisen, knowledge is a matter of affirming it, developing it or explaining it, not just registering it in consciousness, or noting its resulting affects.  Knowledge transforms our whole capacity for being affected, as we saw.

Spinoza uses different terms in the discussion of knowledge, such as indicative signs of various kinds, and then the common notions and the subsequent efforts of reason to go beyond them.  The common notions are still generalizations, rather than ‘knowledge of the singular essence’ (82) and we only get that when we develop to the level of essences [and unravel the whole business of the actual as a manifestation of the virtual etc].  As before, it is the idea of God/substance that drives the whole thing and which ‘forces us’ (83) to develop to the third level, of essences.  However, it is also true that the inadequacies of the common notions, and maybe their inability to develop the active search for joy, act as a kind of cause in their own right.  Common notions are still contaminated with images, however.

MIND AND BODY (PARALLELISM).  Spinoza replaces the term ‘soul’ with the term ‘mind’, to avoid excessive theological prejudice [and so he explains soul- body relations in the terms of the discussion of mind – matter relations?].  Bodies exist as modes in extension, minds as modes of thinking.  Minds have ideas, including an idea of the corresponding body, and thus of other bodies and extension itself.  This also contributes to the ‘automatism of thinking…  [which is like the automatic]…  mechanism of the body capable of astonishing us’ (86).  All things have bodies and minds, things and ideas, and it is this that means we can represent things by ideas.

We start with ideas about what is happening to our body and how we feel about it, producing a strong link between the affects and ideas, as we have seen.  This link is not a physical one, since bodies are not the same as minds, but they do correspond, ultimately because God made sure that things belong to the same order [by definition?  Or is this just a reassertion that all substances share the same qualities of substance despite specific modal differences?  I’ve just realised why Spinoza calls everything a mode—it is to preserve this notion of shared substance underneath appearances].  Lots of people have identified this same order of ideal correspondence, between say passions of the soul and actions of the body.  Leibniz used the term ‘parallelism’, to weasel round the idea of whether one causes the other.  Spinoza doesn’t use the term, but it seems to describe his notion nevertheless.

There is an identity of order between bodies and minds, an isomorphism, and also some idea of connection, ‘an equal valence, and equality of principle between extension and thought, and between what occurs in one and in the other’ (88) [we will be bleating about elective affinities next].  The fundamental equality arises because no attribute is eminent, there is no hierarchy of attributes, so there can only be one sort of connection.  [The final sort of link arises from the point about ideas making themselves apparent to our minds]: when one attribute, say in the body, is modified, so is the attribute of thought in the mind.  It follows that ‘action in the body is also action in the mind, and all that is passion in the mind is also passion in the body’ (88).

This is an example of a ‘general epistemological parallelism’ between ideas and objects.  This is what enables Spinoza to say that we only properly know an effect once we know its cause.  It also explains how ideas can have causes, even for God who is his own cause, and how adequate ideas must always relate to some thing.  So far, we have only seen this general parallelism being implied in the discussion of attributes and human knowledge.  Spinoza wants to go on to demonstrate ‘an ontological parallelism between [all] modes under all the attributes’ (88).

This would involve seeing all modes as forming the same [form or type of] modification.  This is a different cognitive operation from the ones we’ve been describing, which see modification only when essences become extensive.  This produces a number of specific ideas.  But ideas can also be redoubled, since our ideas take on a formal character of their own in thought, and can even be the subject of [metaideas as above].  Fully developed thought, comprehension, sees ideas in themselves as only one mode of thought.  It all turns in the end on how all these qualities and operations are unified in God as we saw.  [specifically, I think the ontological argument is that the original modification or actualization of God that ended in the production of the world produced specific attributes, but these still all emanated from the essence of God].

However at the epistemological level, it is different: minds and bodies have equal powers.  However again, God unites the epistemological and the ontological, because only he ‘authorises the transfer of unity from substance to the modes’ (90) [in other words he also creates the equal powers between minds and bodies?].  For Deleuze, the theme of unity is the important one, and he reads Spinoza as sometimes confusing the issue by, for example, suggesting that the mixtures of bodies controls minds on the one hand, and suggesting that mind is able to become autonomous and liberate itself from bodies on the other.  This is not inconsistent [!], because Spinoza was referring to different parts of the mind—a bodily perishable bit and a pure mind respectively, a part dealing with common notions, and are part dealing with essences [but how are these two connected?].  The apparent domination of bodies is also a mistake, because the idea is to see how bodies work in order to explore how the mind works.  We explore and discover the powers of both bodies and minds.  So is the apparent escape of the mind from the body, since Spinoza wants to reject idealism and argues that even ideas have a cause, even those that express essences.  [This looks a bit like Deleuzian repair work, and I’m not sure it is an escape from inconsistency so much as an assertion first of one element then the other, or even arguing that both positions are inconsistent in the first place]

NATURE.  Nature is both substance and mode, both cause and effect, since it is immanent to each term.  Nature is thus univocal when it comes to attributes [which also enjoy this dual nature following from their relation to the virtual].  Nature is both naturing and naturated, and this produces ‘the univocity of modality’ as well.  These properties of nature explain correspondences between attributes’; how things are connected in attributes, including the different kinds of infinite and finite modes; the agreement of essences as part of divine power; the ways in which specific combinations of relations and powers operate according to eternal laws nevertheless; the ways in which modes relate to each other externally according to an extrinsic order, the ‘”common order of Nature”’ (93), which involves a determined contingency.  [All this is pretty circular really.  We can start with this definition of nature without having to ‘discover’ it in the apparently unmotivated analyses of how modes or essences relate to each other.  The more specific analyses are merely an obsessional reworking of this basic argument contained here?]

NECESSARY.  What exists must be necessary, the result of causes or through itself.  This is another kind of univocity, this time of one mode of existence.  Substances exist if their essences require them to; as one of an infinite number of modes produced by substance, which possess relevant attributes; insofar as motion and rest produce existence; when existing modes produce existence as an effect of their interrelation [I am not at all sure I have understood any of this so far].

‘The categories of possible and contingent are illusions’ (94), and they are based on qualities of the essence of the mode, not all of which exists [Deleuze replaces notions of the possible and the compossible etc. in the same way, as seeing them all as aspects of the multiplicity, not all of which have been actualized].  The notion of the possible also relates to the ways in which external determinants work [they do not always produce the same effect or work in the same way every time].  Neither of these serve to reject the idea of underlying determinants: ‘contingency and possibility only express our ignorance’ (94) [Deleuze himself weasels around the idea of contingency by saying that it is indeed part of the virtual in the first place, as in the throws of the dice metaphor].  So nothing is just possible, and nothing is contingent, ultimately because both imply something strange about God's intellect and will, as above.  [although I have been trying to read God as a nature or substance throughout, some of the argument does seem to turn on God being a person after all.  For example in the sentence above, it would seem strange to refer to nature's intellect and will.  I know Spinoza had to refer to theology, as Deleuze’s lectures on Spinoza indicate, so is he doing this only to tease theologians?  What would the sentence look like if we made it refer to nature? Could conceal a hidden anthropomorphism of Nature, as suggested above?].

NEGATION.  Spinoza wants to do without the term, seeing it as an abstraction and fiction.  Instead, he wants to talk about positive distinctions and negative determinations.

The argument goes that the attributes are always distinct and infinite.  They relate, but do not always oppose each other, and nor does the definition of them imply negation: each has ‘an independent positive essence' (95).  The positivity takes the form of 'affirmation as necessary existence', a shared quality rooted in their participation in substance.  When we try and introduce distinctions, we're really talking about ‘coessential positivities and coexistent affirmations'.

Turning to the finite, we encounter limited determinations.  These are found in the essences of finite modes and in actual existence.  These limits can be seen as negative, but only in the abstract, abstracting from the actual characteristics of the mode and its relations with what causes it.  It is a degree of power which lies at the essence of the mode, and this is not limited or defined by negation—the powers in principle add up to form an infinite set.  Empirically, modes can oppose other modes, and develop more or less degrees of power, but these characteristics come from the infinity of parts [the multiplicity] attached to each mode.  So the empirical conflict cannot be seen as the essence of the mode—it arises from the essence, but does not constitute the essence itself, which persists beyond empirical existence.  The essence affirms existence by managing some of its parts.

When modes conflict, it is better to see this as a form of affirmation of whatever powers a mode possesses, affirmation of a force.  Modes consist of a whole mixture of variable affirmations and bits of realized essences, 'a system of multiple positivities' (96): they do not lack anything in themselves.  The concept of negation is therefore another inadequate idea, when we group things together and compare them against some 'fictitious ideal'.  It is pointless to do this.  No specific nature can be seen as lacking compared to another nature, since each is 'as perfect as it can be in terms of what constitutes its essence' (96), even natures dominated by sadness [doesn't this contradict what was said earlier about the formation of proper ideas leading to a way out of sadness?  Maybe it is that things are as perfect as they can be at any one specific time, until inadequate ideas are pushed a bit, forced to develop].  It is pointless to call something lacking a negation, since something is always lacking.  We can rethink what's lacking by thinking of 'the type of infinite that corresponds to it' [that is the multiplicity again].

Spinoza insists that nothingness is not a part of nature, is not required by nature, partly because '"the nature of the thing cannot require anything unless it exists"' (97).  All the significant characteristics of what other people have called the negative are dealt with in Spinoza's discussion of sadness.

PROPRIA.  Something different from essence and what follows from it in the form of properties or effects.  A 'modality of the essence itself' (104) [a correctly-grasped one].  Apparently there are three sorts of propria of God: different modalities of the divine essence, used to describe attributes like cause and the eternal; something that qualifies God by referring to its products as causes of all things; ‘extrinsic determinations that indicate the way in which we imagine him, failing to comprehend his nature, and that serve as rules of conduct and principles of obedience' (105).

The propria are the genuine modification of God's essence, as compared to those produced by human ignorance and anthropomorphism as above.  'This is theology’s basic error, which is compromise the whole of philosophy'.  At best, theology only can consider propria in the form of imagination as above.  The whole approach is based on the flawed eminences and analogies as above.  [Not really my concern, but how the fuck do we get to proper propria?  We just assert them dogmatically, or infer them through transcendental deduction?].

Chapter five Spinoza’s Evolution (On the Non completion of the Treatise on the Intellect).

Spinoza does offer different relations between God, nature and substance in his different works.  In the Treatise, God equalled nature, and this implied that it was not substance but being which underpinned all substances.  The shift in the Ethics making God equal substance revalues substance, as demonstrating an identity [Deleuze calls this ‘pantheism’ (111)].

The Treatise explicitly saw God as the beginning of everything, but the Ethics discusses more of a ‘method of continuous development’ which need not begin with God.  However he gets to God ‘”as quickly as possible”’ [with a minimum of logical steps].  Arriving at God rather than starting with him tells us something about Spinoza’s method.  It is all a matter of speed, slowness and haste, ‘the Ethics is a river that sometimes flows faster and sometimes slowly’ (112) [see the essay on Spinoza in Deleuze 1995].

Effects do follow causes, but this order cannot be followed immediately, since one usually starts with knowledge of an effect.  All is well if we deduce causes from effects, but Spinoza is more interested in synthesis or genesis, developing ‘a sufficient reason that also enables us to know other things’ (113).  The former is quicker, the latter more roundabout.  The Treatise began with a given true idea to get to God as the source of all ideas, but in the Ethics, we start with substantial attributes to get to substance which contains all the attributes, and then back to things.  The Treatise begins with geometric beings as examples of the true idea, and from there we can get to God as a genetic element, producing geometric relations from his own superior power of thinking.  In the Ethics, we have to proceed through common notions and then finally synthetic explanations [of essences] and then God.

Common notions do not appear in Spinoza’s earlier works.  Common notions refer to ideas of composition of relations.  We do not get access to essences immediately, but rather grasp first the commonalities between things, such as that they have extension.  Common notions have different ranges, from specific ideas about two bodies to general ideas about all bodies.  These notions appear as ‘an order of Nature’ (115).  Common notions are seen as fully grounded, not partly fictional like geometric ideas: they have physical, chemical or biological components.  Now, geometric concepts can be seen as themselves grounded on common notions, as abstractions from them, permitting the play of autonomous reason, but not starting with abstractions: this is how geometric concepts now become adequate.

Common notions are adequate ideas, not just beliefs or inferences based on abstraction.  This provides a new explanation of how the highest kind of knowledge emerges [a problem, apparently, in the Treatise].  It is the very adequacy of common notions [their empirical applicability] that is the basis for the development of the second and third levels.  Ideas at the second level are still diverse, resulting both from reason and from empirical investigations [such as early biological analyses of the composition of animals]: a common interest in real beings is what unifies ideas here.  Ideas at the third level relate to essences rather than relations between attributes [whose essences are not investigated at the second level]. 

However, thinking about attributes means ‘one is necessarily led to knowledge of the essences’ (118).  The notion of adequacy itself leads to the idea of God, and it is the idea of God that bridges the second and third levels ‘because it has one side facing the common notions and one side facing the essences’ (118) [which apparently follows because God creates material things but also shows an ability to invest his divine love in them -- so it really does depend on anthropomorphism? Deleuze has to have the universe itself realizing itself etc].

There is still a problem with common notions since immediate experience displays effects but not relations.  However, the affects of sadness and joy are important—the experience of joy ‘induces us to form a common notion of these two bodies’ (118-19) [induces philosophers to do so?]  Enough dyadic relations producing joy means apprehension of a more general level of commonality [very much like American pragmatism here -- did Peirce and Dewey read Spinoza?].  Common notions develop from least to most universal, although it is more common in theoretical exposition to go the other way, and Spinoza feels he has to deal with theoretical exposition first.  Exposition concerns only ideas, but common notions are more practical and concern the power to generate affects—through ‘organizing good encounters, composing actual relations, forming powers, experimenting’ (119).  Apart from anything else, this grounds in practice the Ethics.

So why did Spinoza not finish the Treatise?  Deleuze thinks that it is because Spinoza saw the potential of the newly conceived common notions.  The Treatise apparently hints at the emergence of the common notions towards the end.  Common notions were discovered too late to be incorporated into the Treatise which had already argued for the importance of geometric ideas and developed some implications [no doubt rigorously] , so a rewrite would have been necessary, and Spinoza preferred to begin again, instead of writing a new Treatise on the origin of common notions.

Chapter six Spinoza and Us

We should begin in the middle, not with the first principle of one substance, but progressing to the other principles about bodies and individuals, including the idea that nature ‘is itself an individual varying in an infinite number of ways’ (122).  This would lead us to see the importance of ‘the common plane of immanence on which all bodies, all minds, and all individuals are situated’, conceived as a diagram [the translator notes that the French word plan means both plan {diagram} and plane].  We can relate to Spinoza by installing ourselves on this plane, and this would help us ‘live in a Spinozist manner’ (123) [and presumably in a Deleuzian manner as well, so this is how we ‘apply’ both of them?].  If we do, ‘one finds one is a Spinozist before having understood why’ [ie bits of it agree with common sense or flatter our notions of ourselves?]

[A full translation into Deleuzian terms seems to ensue].  The body is an infinite number of particles related by motion and rest, speed and slowness, and these make it an individual body.  Bodies affect other bodies and are affected, also producing individuality.  It is not a matter of form or functions—these also depend on relations of speed and slowness.  We need to see life, including individual life as ‘a complex relation between differential velocities, between deceleration and acceleration of particles’ (123), producing a composition on the plane of immanence [the example is musical form as a relation between the speeds of sound particles].  [For what it’s worth, I think this idea of speed also accounts for different quantities—lots of things are gathered together at the same time at higher speeds, the connections move along quickly etc].

Capacities for affecting and being affected are more important than form, ‘organs or functions’, or definitions based on ‘substance or a subject’.  Spinoza uses the term modes to avoid the last two.  The mode is again a relation of speed and slowness in bodies and in thoughts, and a capacity for affecting or being affected.  This changed the definition has important consequences—and one of them is in understanding Little Hans [!], who describes horses in terms of the list of their affects [repeated in Thousand Plateaus]. We also know that the same animal is quite different if it is a plough horse or a racehorse.  Subsequent biologists have also defined animal worlds in terms of their capacities for affecting and being affected, including a certain J von Uexkűll who are described the tick in terms of its affects—climb towards the light, smell a passing mammal, seek out a piece of bare skin using thermal detection [another example used in later works].  These three aspects define the entire world of the tick, and this is apparently a formative piece of work in what became known as ethology.

On the plane of immanence, there is no distinction between the natural and the artificial.  Humans and animals alike can be described by their affects, because we are not fully in control of our own capacities at first.  We need to carry on experimentation and develop wisdom, and this itself ‘implies the construction of a plane of immanence or consistency’ (125) [this ambiguity has struck me before—is the plane of immanence a human or philosophical construct imposed on the chaos of the universe?  In the sentence above, it looks as if it somehow emerges from chaos by itself].

Spinoza’s ethics are based on this ethology, not on a morality.  The implication is that we only know what we can do in particular encounters and arrangements.  Ethology looks at relations of speed and slowness, capacities for affecting and being affected.  We can discuss for each thing the amplitude of these capacities, the thresholds, ‘variations or transformations that are peculiar to them’.  Ethologists also study how things select what affects them, how animals react to the world, how [symbiotic] relations between animals arise [no sign yet of the wasp and orchid example].  We cannot separate individual animals from relations with the world because ‘The interior is only a selected exterior, and the exterior, a projected interior’ [makes a lot more sense after reading Deleuze on Foucault, especially the bit on the fold].

Relations of speed and slowness can be affected by circumstances as they are realized—for example, the same relations can sometimes increase and sometimes decrease capacities to be affected [food can also be poisonous—really?]. Ethology can also study constructive compounding of bodies to produce either new extensive relations, or more intensive capacities or power.  This helps ethology study not just [individual] ‘utilisations or captures, but…  sociabilities and communities’ (126).  [So we have a kind of all purpose philosophical anthropology replacing sociology?  Again it is interesting to see that JS Mill used the term ethology in his own methodological individualism].  This can lead us to ask about the different types of sociability, including ‘the difference between the society of human beings and the community of rational beings’.  However, overall, we should concern ourselves with the whole of nature, the composition of a whole world, and how its ‘powers, speeds and slownesses compose features of it. In this way, Nature ‘is the fullest and most intense Individual’, with infinite parts.  Old Uexkűll developed analysis beginning with individual things and then moving towards some ‘immanent higher unity’, and he also saw this in terms of the musical analogy, in the form of the symphony.

We can reread the Ethics as entirely about ‘changing relative velocities until the absolute velocity of thought is reached in the third kind of knowledge’ (127).  There is a major difference between the propositions and the scholia and the speed at which they progress and combine, again like a musical composition.

Spinoza also can be understood as describing substance in terms of its longitude and latitude, terms from the Middle Ages as well as from geography.  [Introduced without comment in Thousand Plateaus -- as is the stuff on speeds etc] Longitude of the body refers to the relations of speed and slowness, motion and rest between the particles that compose it [which are themselves seen as ‘unformed elements’, something infinitely small, lacking form unlike composite bodies].  Latitude refers to sets of affects, the intensive states of the anonymous force for existing or being affected etc.  These affects occupy bodies at each moment.  Together this helps construct the map of the body.  Together they constitute nature and the plane of imminence or consistency.  Here, this plane is ‘always variable and is constantly being altered, composed and  recomposed, by individuals and collectivities’ (128) [which implies that any active body, not just philosophers, can produce a plane of immanence].

Plan(e)s themselves vary.  They can be theological planes if they operate with a transcendental hierarchy, and this includes hierarchical concepts of nature or societies.  Such a plan can be structural, genetic, or both at the same time.  The plan produces forms and subjects, so it is a ‘plan of organization or development’.  Any plan that produces forms and subjects and that stays hidden itself must be a transcendental one ‘that can only be divined, induced, inferred from what it gives’ (128).  By contrast, a plane of imminence does not have a supplementary level, and is a plane of composition rather than organization.  There are no forms, only relations of velocity between particles.  There are no subjects, but only ‘individuating affective states of an anonymous force’ (128).  The plan covers only motion and rest and dynamic aspects.  We perceive it only with ‘that which makes it perceptible’.  A true Spinozist resists any attempt to subordinate this plane to a transcendental one.

Artists can find that they are Spinozists, which is even more likely than philosophers discovering that they are.  Spinoza has this quality or ‘privilege’ that his elaborate conceptual apparatus can nevertheless be grasped by ‘a non philosopher, or even someone without any formal education [who] can receive a sudden elimination from him, a “flash”’ (129).  [And then, as an apparently supporting example, Deleuze cites Nietzsche who suddenly discovered Spinoza to his surprise: apparently, Nietzsche 'is not speaking only as a philosopher’.  A certain Delbos, a historian of philosophy, and so entirely normal, also was struck by Spinoza.  However, there is the example of a poor Jew who bought Spinoza’s book and found it gripping, according to Malamud].  It is because you can read Spinoza either systematically as a philosopher, or experience him through an ‘an affective reading, without any idea of the whole, where one is carried along or set down, put in motion or rest, shaken or calmed according to the velocity of this or that part’.  Such readers can also see themselves as Spinozan.

Spinoza also teaches philosophers how to become a non philosopher, especially in Part V apparently, where a concept and affect co-occur.  Lots of people develop a passion for Spinoza, they love him, they talk of the effect of reading him as encountering a wind, a calm wind and a whirlwind together, the cold logic of the sections, and the more passionate bits of the scholia.  Spinoza’s Part V offers the maximum connection between concepts and life, but it is the interweaving in the earlier sections that also makes it very attractive.


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