Bulletin N° 782
Subject : Starting over: Suggestions from a 17th-century philosopher, with the courage of his convictions, who might be of help to us living with 21st-century conundrums.
21 January 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
In Part II of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics (written between 1661-75 & posthumously published in 1677) we find a logical contemplation that puts to shame Discourse on Method (1637) by René Descartes. Unlike Descartes, Spinoza found the courage to begin his inquiry into human intelligence starting with himself and the physical presence of humans around him, and not with some abstract schematic sketch drawn from his imagination. A lover of sentient Humanity, and not of sterile Systems, Spinoza has much to offer us for understanding the functions of the human mind as a product of Nature, and these lessons remain of vital importance today.
Particularly pithy, in the second part of this work, is his discussion of,
Proposition 49: “There is in the mind no volition, that is affirmation and negation, except that which an idea, in so far as it is an idea, involves.”
Proof: “There is in the mind . . . no absolute faculty of willing and non-willing, but only particular volitions, namely, this or that affirmation, and this or that negation. Let us therefore conceive a particular volition, namely, a mode of thinking whereby the mind affirms that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles. This affirmation involved the conception, or idea, of a triangle; that is, it cannot be conceived without the idea of a triangle. . . . Furthermore, this idea of a triangle must involve this same affirmation, namely, that its three angles are equal to two right angles. Therefore, vice versa, this idea of a triangle can neither be nor be conceived without this affirmation, and so . . . its affirmation belongs to the essence of the idea of a triangle, and is nothing more than the essence itself. And what I have said of this volition (for it was arbitrarily selected) must be said of every volition, namely, that it is nothing but an idea.”
Corollary: “Will and volition are one and the same thing.”
Proof: “Will and intellect are nothing but the particular volitions and ideas. But a particular volition and idea are one and the same thing. Therefore will and intellect are one and the same thing.
He then addresses the state of equilibrium in the ‘Buridan’s Ass Dilemma’.
“I readily grant that a man placed in such a state of equilibrium (namely, where he feels nothing
else but hunger and thirst and perceives nothing but such –and-such food and drink at equal distances
from him) will die of hunger and thirst. If they ask me whether such a man is not to be reckoned as ass
rather than a man, I reply that I do not know, just as I do not know how one should reckon a man
who hangs himself, or how one should reckon babies, fools, and madmen.” (from Ethics and Selected Letters, trans. 1982, by Samuel Shirley, pp.96-101)
Spinoza’s description of the human mind as a product of nature, and human intelligence as inseparable from will, represents an understanding of imagination and intellect that could only outrage the guardians of organized religion, the indoctrination for which is perpetrated by propagandists supported by politico-religious institutions and who find themselves necessarily on the defensive. They had frightened Descartes into compromise, and he came to toe the line of the Church propagandists; Spinoza overcame his fear and proceeded cautiously to seek the truth against the efforts of all organized religions in the Netherlands, until his death in 1677.
What more can he teach us?
In the 15 items below you will find essays on the internal contradictions and international struggles which constitute the essence of 21st-century US political economy.
Professor emeritus of American Studies
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Sent: Monday, 15 January, 2018
Subject: Byron: Women's March Photograph
I am proud of this photo I shot last year.
Can you use this banner photo from the last march in 2017 ?
We had one of the biggest marches in San Diego ever with 60,000.
The next march is this Saturday January 20th, 2018.
I think it's evocative and multi-meaning in the imagery.
It feels like a contemporary image, echoing and embodying Archibald Willard's, Spirit of '76 painting and the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike signage, I am a Man.
Their eyes and facial expressions still linger in my memory. One expresses hope, one courage and one uneasiness.
And of course the flags as symbols of LGBT Rainbow, Transgender Pride flag and the Stars and Stripes flag.
Photo Credit: Byron Morton
From: "Ariel Gold,
Sent: Wednesday, 17 January, 2018
Subject: Turning 17 in prison
I just hung up with Ahed’s attorney. The news is horrific. Israel is refusing to release her on bail pending trial. Not only this, but the court proceedings against her will will begin on January 31, the day of her 17th birthday! Rather than celebrating with family and friends, eating cake, and having a party, she will spend the day in a military courtroom. She will sleep that night in a prison cell.
Two days ago, I spoke with Ahed’s father, Bassem. He told me that he is proud of his daughter’s brave actions, but his heart breaks every moment of her imprisonment. He also told me how much he appreciates all we are doing to support his family, including the Free Ahed petition you were a part of signing.
Here are some next steps you can take to stand in solidarity with Ahed:
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the arrest and imprisonment of children is only to be used as a last resort, for the shortest period of time, with the primary consideration being the best interests of the child. But, because Israel regularly denies Palestinian children their human rights, Ahed will spend her 17th birthday in prison. If not for the occupation, she would be free.
Israel is trying to prevent any support for the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom. Read from Medea on how outrageous it is that Israel has banned CODEPINK and 5 other US organizations from entering the country. Then, join us in sending birthday solidarity to Ahed.
In love and solidarity,
P.S. On December 30th, in preparation for Ahed’s trial and birthday, we will be protesting in Washington, DC. Join us there or plan a protest in your city to #FreeAhed.
To update your email subscription, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rethinking Putin: A Talk by Professor Stephen F. Cohen
by Stephen F. Cohen
"What Putin Is Not"
It’s Nato that’s Empire-building, not
by Peter Hitchins
Just for once, let us try this argument with an open mind, employing arithmetic and geography and going easy on the adjectives. Two great land powers face each other. One of these powers, Russia, has given up control over 700,000 square miles of valuable territory. The other, the European Union, has gained control over 400,000 of those square miles. Which of these powers is expanding?
Look at Them Like Donkeys'
What Israel's first ruling party thought about Palestinian citizens
by Adam Raz
“The Arab question in Israel” was the term used in the top ranks of Mapai, the ruling party in the young State of Israel – and forerunner of Labor – to encapsulate the complex issue that arose after the War of Independence of 1948-49. In the wake of the fighting, and the armistice agreements that concluded the war, about 156,000 Arabs remained within Israel (out of an estimated 700,000 before the war), accounting for 14 percent of the nascent state’s population. So it was with some justification that Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett stated in a meeting of Mapai Knesset members and the party’s senior leadership, on June 18, 1950, that “this is one of the fundamental questions of our policy and of the future of our country.” He added that the issue was one “that will determine the direction of the country’s morality,” for “our entire moral stature depends on this test – on whether we pass it or not.”
Almost 70 years later, the “Arab question in Israel” continues to pose a conundrum for politicians when they address the issue of the status of Palestinian citizens of Israel (or, as they are often imprecisely called, “Israeli Arabs”).
Video of Nikki Haley Groveling and Pandering
AIPAC Event (Israel Lobby)
by Louis Heyward
Norman Finkelstein on the Many Lies Perpetuated About Gaza
Palestine, Israel And The US: How The South Pacific Countries Selling Their UN Votes
by Andre Vltchek
Here it goes again! Several countries of Oceania (also known as South Pacific Nations), or however you want to call that vast, beautiful but thoroughly devastated part of the world, have voted “for Israel”, “for the United States’ proposed resolution at the United Nations”, and therefore, “against Palestine”.
Facing Serious Damage to its Image, Israel Must Smear its Critics
by Moshé Machover
On January 25, Labour activist and co-founder of Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign Tony Greenstein will undergo a disciplinary hearing over accusations of alleged anti-Semitic comments made online. Greenstein was suspended from Labour back in 2016 when the remarks first came to light. Greenstein has maintained the content was legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, and not derogatory statements about Jews. Moshé Machover, a British-Israeli activist and member of the UK’s Labour Party, has prepared the following testimony in defense of Greenstein. Machover was also the founder of the Israeli socialist political party Matzpen.
From: World Beyond War
Video Highlights of No Foreign Bases Conference
Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires
10 Reasons Not To Trust Facebook
With over 1.5 billion people using Facebook has become the superpower of the social media landscape. With with power comes responsibility and Facebook has unfortunately been responsibly for some pretty shady revelations!
Trump’s State Department Spent Over $1m in Iran
to Exploit Unrest
Documents reveal ‘regime change’ aspirations pursued
under cover of ‘democracy promotion’ programs
by Nafeez Ahmed
At the end of 2017, a dozen cities across Iran, including the capital Tehran, were rocked by spontaneous protests which continued into the New Year. The protests drew attention to the country’s deteriorating economic conditions, along with the regime’s abysmal human rights record. They also paved the way for President Donald Trump’s announcement on January 12th that this would be a “last chance” for waiving US nuclear sanctions under the Iran nuclear deal for a further 60 days, after which the US would withdraw if its “disastrous flaws” cannot be fixed.
Sent: Tuesday, 16 January, 2018
Subject: Byron: A few Photos from MLK jr March...Enjoy!
I thought you'd be interested in a few shots from the Martin Luther King jr Parade.
Stay well, do good work and keep in touch!
A VIEW OF ‘LIMITED DEMOCRACY’
FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNA . . .
Child on Bike
Black Lives Matter Kid with Sign
Veterans For Peace
African American Association of County Employees
Cesar Chavez Service Clubs
Miss Black California
San Diego Link Achievers
San Diego Pride Biker
Black Nurses Association
NAACP Black Lawyers Matter
Gadsden Marching Band San Luis Arizona
San Diego 1-21-17 Broadway Street
(Not a Byron Morton Photo)