Healing the Mind: The Philosophy of Spinoza Adapted for a New Age

Healing the Mind: The Philosophy of Spinoza Adapted for a New Age

Healing the Mind: The Philosophy of Spinoza Adapted for a New Age

Healing the Mind: The Philosophy of Spinoza Adapted for a New Age

Synopsis

"In philosophy courses and textbooks, Spinoza is classified as a seventeenth-century rationalist philosopher, sandwiched between Descartes, who lived in the generation before Spinoza, and Leibniz, who lived in the generation after. Spinoza, however, has more in common with Eastern thought generally, and with Buddhism in particular, than he does with either of the two aforementioned philosophers. This book presents Spinoza as a spiritual psychotherapist. Spiritual, because the goal of Spinoza's philosophical system is union with God; psychotherapist, because the path to this goal lies through an understanding and ultimate transcendence of our afflictive emotions. Healing the Mind makes Spinoza's system of thought accessible and available to general readers, and provides important and novel insights for those already somewhat familiar with Spinoza's philosophy. It is written as a sort of intellectual self-help book, self-contained, free from footnotes, and as much as possible free from jargon. A series of reflective exercises, integrated into the text, aid the reader in applying Spinoza's philosophy to day-to-day life experiences. It is only by applying Spinoza's thought to our personal lives, through consistent practice, that we may free ourselves from bondage to our lower emotions and habitual behaviors, and begin to enjoy the "continuous, supreme, and unending happiness" which Spinoza promises awaits us." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Neal Grossman was a student of mine while I was teaching at M.I.T., which means that I have known him for forty-some years. Only during the latest of these years, however, did he tell me of an experience that dates back to when he was fifteen or sixteen years old, one that I find so prescient of the book in hand that I can think of no more appropriate way to open this foreword than to relate it.

Neal was exploring the streets of Boston one summer afternoon when he found himself passing its public library, and with nothing better to do he entered. Dazed by its seemingly endless corridors of books, he wandered down one of them, and there his eye fell on Plato's Dialogues. He had heard of Plato, and to satisfy his curiosity he pulled the book from its shelf, took it to a reading table, and let it fall open. Mirabile dictu, what then greeted him was the most famous passage in all of the Dialogues, the Allegory of the Cave, which together with Moses' vision of Mount Sinai in flames is one of the twin foundations of Western civilization. When he came to the end of the allegory with its moral that education is not what most people take it to be but instead should be β€œto put true knowledge into souls that do not possess it, as if inserting vision into blind eyes,” he found that tears were streaming down his cheeks.

II

When Grossman reported that episode, I heard it as a harbinger of the book in hand, but to bring out the full force of that book I need to say something about the years that intervened between the afternoon I have recounted and the writing of this book.

Innately intelligent and in search of truth, which our culture assumes . . .

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