Quoting Spinoza

by Guinandra Jatikusumo

I am aware that most of my references in this blog are from the New York Times, and it seems that I need to diversify my sources to provide more impartial analyses. I promise I will do so in the future; I just feel that this great article I stumbled upon is worthy of contemplating. The author builds a case against non-interventionism and individualism by referring to the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza:

There is no such thing as a discrete individual, Spinoza points out. This is a fiction. The boundaries of ‘me’ are fluid and blurred. We are all profoundly linked in countless ways we can hardly perceive. My decisions, choices, actions are inspired and motivated by others to no small extent. The passions, Spinoza argued, derive from seeing people as autonomous individuals responsible for all the objectionable actions that issue from them. Understanding the interrelated nature of everyone and everything is the key to diminishing the passions and the havoc they wreak.

It would be interesting to hear some counterarguments from the disciples of 20th century philosophers of individualism against the piece.