Spinoza Superstition Essay

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In his works Ethics I and Theological-Political Treatise, Spinoza shares his views on superstition and its role in human life and the Judeo-Christian religion. He defines it as a result of fear and anxiety mixed with gullibility, doubt, ignorance, and confusion. To start off, when things are going well, people believe that they have everything under control. However, once things start going downhill, their desperation gets the best of them and they seek the closest thing to depend on for reassurance. The superstitious are doubtful and skeptical in thinking that it is not their place to explain or influence the world. Also, they are gullible because their anxiety motivates them to believe in a power that they think can take control of certain…show more content…
The first is theological superstition, the transcendence of God. This constitutes the idea that we have to submit to God in hopes of having a share in his power and understanding, which are made possible by his position outside of Nature. From this perspective, he looks in and masters all of Nature, but is never determined by it. This is an important aspect of the Judeo-Christian interpretations of prophecy, miracles, divine law, and rituals and ceremonies which will be discussed later on. The second is the transcendence of human beings, or anthropic superstition. According to this, humans are “created in the image and likeness of [a supernatural] God”, which plays a big role in the Jewish and Calvinist interpretations of divine election. It also taps into the topic of the free will of people. Lastly, the transcendence of the sovereign, also known as political superstition. Spinoza defines sovereign as the agency besides God to whom we must submit in order to have a share in its power and understanding. In the case of human society, it would be a supreme authority such as a monarch. This serves as a basis for authoritarian
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