Spinoza’s Most Dangerous Idea

8405820653_7fc3f1d9b4_zWould you share a powerful idea, even if you knew you could be killed?

In 1670, the philosopher Baruch Spinoza anonymously published Ethics, a work of explosive philosophy, theology and scientific thought. He shared a revolutionary idea that God and nature are bound up in the same “eternal and infinite Being.”

He called this entity “God or Nature,” and Spinoza saw how this revelation showed a great potential in human beings.

He wrote:

Thus the power of man, in so far as it is explained through his own actual essence, is a part of the infinite power of God or Nature

Spinoza spread the philosophical idea of “pantheism,” or “the belief that the universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God.”

In the most simplest terms, Spinoza believed that “all is one.”

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These were dangerous ideas. In 1600, the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for spreading his pantheistic beliefs.

The great Albert Einstein called himself a follower of Spinoza, and saw the philosopher’s work as part of humanity’s quest to understand reality:

I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.

The World Pantheism Movement defines the belief in terms of interconnectedness, or the theme of “all is one.”

All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part. We rejoice in our existence and seek to participate ever more deeply in this unity through knowledge, celebration, meditation, empathy, love, ethical action and art. We are an integral part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally.

Here at True Pictures, we love the theme of interconnectedness–searching for stories that show how all is truly one.

World Pantheism Movement uses the spiral as a potent symbol of this belief. The essay about “Pantheistic Art & Photography” showed how spirals can help us understand the interconnected nature of reality.

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Our sense of nature’s overwhelming beauty, and the variety, complexity and interwovenness of that beauty is perhaps what gives us the deepest feeling of awe and wonder at the universe … But our aesthetic fascination with nature goes deeper than this. It extends into the basic forms found in nature: spirals, radials, spheres, honeycombs, crackings, branchings, stripes, waves and turbulent flows. We find these forms repeated in many different animate and inanimate fields, and fractally at many different levels: branching in arteries, trees, rivers and lightning; turbulence in clouds and liquids; cracking in skin and clay and bark; radial forms in sea creatures and stars; spirals in shells and galaxies and whirlpools.

Are you a pantheist, philosophically? Take this quiz to test your beliefs.

(Images via Filter ForgeJitze Couperus and USGS Bee Inventory)

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