Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spinoza and Dating: People are not Substances

So far today I have written 16 pages on Spinoza's account of epistemology and just now, while writing an explanation for a completely nonsensical proposition from Book Two, I had an epiphany about my dating life which, I assume, resulted from my having spent the day writing about Spinoza. So, I am going to share my epiphany if only to provide a bit of insight into how my fucked-up mind works.

So, I have always thought that if Player-A loves Player-B, and Player-B loves Player-A, then Player-A and Player-B ought to, by way of their relationship, make the other the entirety of their life. This is to say that, if I have a girlfriend, then I ought not have to require anything but that other person to make my life meaningful. My being with that other person ought to be meaning enough. In a similar fashion, the partner of me ought to be able to make me their focus such that I fulfill all of their needs. Why would I need to play Disgaea if I have a girlfriend? Why would my girlfriend need to spend time with her friends if she loves me? Insofar as the relationship is a loving one, then that love, in and of itself, ought to be a sufficient source of meaning and happiness for the two persons involve. That, as far as I was concerned, was simply what a loving relationship is and what a loving relationship does.

Multiple persons throughout my life told me that I was wrong for multiple reasons. They would cite social precedent; they would cite the business of life and its time constraints. They would cite all sorts of nonsense. But I knew these other people to be incorrect given that I thought myself to be correct insofar as it would be foolish for me to think something which was, in fact, false.

But then I had my little epiphany. And here's what it is:

1D3: "By substance I understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed.

1D5: "By mode I understand the affections of a substance, or that which is in another through which it is also conceived."

Human beings are not substances. Human beings are modes.

So the real reason, the actual reason, for why one cannot rely upon one's significant other for the entirety of one's needs is not for any reason other than the fact that a particular person is not a substance. A particular person is not "in itself" or "conceived through itself". A particular person is a mode, reliant upon something else, conceived through something else

So Player-A, as a mode, relies upon X for its being. Player-B, as a mode, also relies upon X for its being. Even if Player-A and Player-B are in a loving relationship, each still relies upon X for its being. Since Player-A and Player-B each rely upon X, it is not the case that Player-A or Player-B can replace X. Neither Player-A nor Player-B can take the place of X, as they are reliant upon it.

So, Player-A cannot rely upon Player-B, exist purely through Player-B, because Player-B is itself reliant upon X, just as Player-A relies upon X. So it makes no sense, metaphysically, for Player-A to try to rely upon Player-B rather than X, given that there is no way for Player-B to have all of the qualities of X given the relationship of reliance between Player-B and X.

One could argue that Player-A could try to get its X by way of Player-B. The problem is that Player-B has only finite access to X. If Player-A relies upon Player-B for its access to X, then suddenly Player-B must collect twice as much X as it did on its own, which is impossible, in order to provide Player-A with an adequate amount of X. The issue is not one of fairness, of dependence, or any social nonsense. The problem is that, metaphysically, Player-B is incapable of increasing its access to X. So for Player-B to attempt to provide Player-A with adequate X fundamentally depletes Player-B of X, and denies Player-A of an adequate amount of X.

It's just math.

My further confusion resulted from a faulty understanding of love. I thought love to be an inexplicably powerful source of compassion, selflessness, care, and concern by way of which any two people, who mutually enacted a relationship with one another predicated on love, could be together subsumed in an eternal torrent of bliss, happiness, and self-actualization to such a degree that naught was required but that pure, unquashed love.

But, of course, this is not what love is:

2A3: "There are no modes of thinking, such as love, desire, or whatever is designated by the word affects of the mind, unless there is in the same Individual the idea of the thing loved, desired, etc. But there can be an idea, even though there is no other mode of thinking."

See? Love is not an inexplicable force which transcends reason and physical limitations to eternally bind two persons whose hearts beat as one; love is just an affect of the mind.

The problem was that I thought a relationship predicated on love to be a manner by which two persons could become mutually reliant, subsisting upon naught but their love for one another as they strode forward towards the horizon of the future, hand-in-hand as a team which could overcome all odds as their hearts grew to be eternally entwined.

But it turns out that that a relationship is just two modes engaging in a mutual affect of the mind who, on occasion, get naked, rub against each other, and then get bored after a while.

My mistake.


_J_ said...

Pretty sure this is the kind of shit that got Spinoza excommunicated.

No one wants to hear that they are are mode of an attribute of the one substance. And no one wants love to be just an affect of the mind.

Roscoe said...

Is it possible that such things aren't simply affects... but.. meta-affects.

The Adverbs of affects? That would seem to mitigate or resolve the conundrum of Love being reducable to something... so.. small.

_J_ said...

so small

Spoonwood said...

@J I want love to consists of an affect of the mind. I exist. So did Spinoza. So, someone does want love to consist of an affect of the mind.