Educating for immortality : Spinoza and the pedagogy of gradual existence

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Educating for immortality : Spinoza and the pedagogy of gradual existence

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Educating for immortality : Spinoza and the pedagogy of gradual existence
Author(s) Dahlbeck, Johan
Date 2014
English abstract
This article begins with the question: What is it to live? It is argued that, from a Spinozistic perspective, to live is not an either/or kind of matter. Rather, it is something that inevitably comes in degrees. The idea is that through good education and proper training a person can learn to increase his or her degree of existence by acquiring more adequate (as opposed to confused) ideas. This gradual qualitative enhancement of existence is an operationalisation of Spinoza’s quest for immortality of the mind. While Spinoza’s idea of immortality differs from the traditional Christian account of the immortality of the soul in some key respects, it nevertheless concerns a form of immortality of the mind albeit grasped from a strictly naturalistic standpoint. And as such it is clear that we are faced with not only a philosophical and metaphysical problem of some magnitude but that we have come up against an educational problem that is rarely addressed. The educational problem, emanating from this, concerns the tension between Spinoza’s necessitarianism and the overall goal of education. Why educate people at all if their lives are already predetermined? In addressing these problems, this article marks an attempt to present a pedagogization of the degrees of existence in Spinoza. To this end, it is argued that (1) the imitation of affects is key to understanding Spinoza in an educational setting and; (2) that teaching, in a Spinozistic context, involves the act of offering the right amount of resistance.
DOI (link to publisher's fulltext)
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Host/Issue Journal of Philosophy of Education;
ISSN 1467-9752
Pages e-pub ahead of print
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Spinoza
degrees of existence
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
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