Or, later known as Benedict. Spinoza, of course.
Why is he important? As we see neuroscience trying to explain ourselves to us, we can learn from all of the debates over the many years. And, Baruch had a lot to say that is worth considering. His time, by the way, parallels the first entry on this side of the pond that led to the US (to wit, real founders).
I recently saw a reference to a 2003 book on FB which sent me back to my youth (Henry and George) due to its theme being related to Baruch's thoughts. Antonio Damasio, the author, uses our friend (see Stanford's summary of Spinoza's on the physical world) as the basis for arguing the importance of emotions to our cognitive workings. And, that leads right to truth engineering and to the issues related to computation (we'll get there).
Aside: Emotions? Well, we have a lot to discuss there. Let's just say that these are involved with mechanisms (operational sense, okay? in terms, too, of the neuropeptidergic'al consciousness (is that all there is?)) that cannot be mechanized (which computation is, folk). What, even with biologically based computers?
Aside: We saw a similar view in the last IJCAI (International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence) arguing that biased minds make better inferences (see video on Homo heuristicus). You have to realize that this might seem quite intuitive, yet reasoning (as in applied logics of several sorts) does receive most attention. The Zen awaits further definition.
Aside: That the mathematical framework, so perniciously overlaying ourselves, is right at the core of the current financial mess (still being unwound, folks). A big problem remains with respect to ensuring payments (by that, insure is not in any way meant to imply the gaming by the likes of AIG - or even some pieces of Buffet's organizations - many of the strategies involved stink to high heaven) in the future.
We've danced around some necessary points by categorizing them as t-issues and punting them down the road (isn't this what we've done with the national debt?). It might be interesting to re-look at the topic with Baruch's glasses (as in, truth and the senses).
Now, some might complain that thoughts from 400 years ago are not of interest. These arguments have been timelessly debated, not converging, apparently, to anything that would build consensus. As well, the modern world has been very much rewarding of the operational stances. Namely, these are those that do not care with the net effect of turmoils, trampling of the spirit, and much more as a guaranteed fact of life. Perhaps, this might be true for some.
For me, it's nice to run across thoughtful recognition of the musing of earlier thinkers in the context of the up-to-date work that, essentially, is spiraling us toward knowing more and more about less and less in this age of specialization. Too, to have a balanced view like Baruch's brought forward can have several effects; one of these would be an improved overarching worldview. How? We'll get to that.
Finally, a Baruch thought, via SEoP: For measure, both of spatial extent and temporal duration, is a mere aid to the imagination, and not a means of intellectually understanding.
07/09/2013 -- Was there a time when father knew, whether all or most of the time? Many sons railed against that, GEK III, for instance. Some sons had absent fathers, who were no more than some ideal without any material substance. Some sons even followed their fathers. All sorts of positions along an axis. However, there is something new, now. An insidious overlay is threatening us; its origins come from advances in prowess that are less understood than those who practice think is so. Have we left serfdom to a feudal lord behind in order to be wrapped in a more dense veil? The key notion is quasi-empicisism and its being ignored.
01/22/2013 -- T-issues will migrate to issues of science and religion.