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Action and Passion

We normally talk of "passions" as emotions or drives. But we also talk about "the passion of the Christ", namely what he suffered or underwent - and this points us to the etymological link with passivity. When Aristotle said that to perceive is to suffer, he meant not that perceiving is painful, but that in perceiving we are acted on by another.

Exploring our concept of passion, by way of passivity, will direct us into exploring action, force, and - what rationalists think is the best understanding of action and force - the explanation of one thing by another thing. Does it make sense to say that, when I am passionate, I am under the power of something else - that it accounts for what is going on in me? That would mean I can only be passionate about things that are more forceful, more explanatory than I am. How does this square with the phenomenology of emotional intensity?

Am I active to the extent that I generate (and thereby serve as the explanation for) something over and above what already exists in the world? Is creativity unconstrained, unresponsive to anything given, insofar as it is genuinely creative? If so, then how could any creative act be appropriate to a given situation?

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  • Brian

    BTW, this meetup description successfully deals with Spinoza's ethics without referring at all to God. We weren't sure that was possible not too long ago, but I do think active ideas can be treated as self-caused, and theological understanding can be treated as passionate

    October 14, 2013

    • Brian

      But when we encounter an external body that does not agree with our own (i.e., whose relation does not enter into composition with ours), it is as if the power of that body opposed our power, bringing about a subtraction or a fixation; when this occurs, it may be said that our power of acting is diminished or blocked, and that the corresponding passions are those of sadness. In the contrary case, when we encounter a body that agrees with our nature, one whose relation compounds with ours, we may say that its power is added to ours; the passions that affect us are those ofjoy, and our power of acting is increased or enhanced. This joy is still a passion, since it has an external cause; we still remain separated from our power of acting, possessing it only in a formal sense. This power ofacting is nonetheless increased proportionally; we "approach" the point of conversion, the point oftransmutation that will establish our dominion, that will make us worthy of action, of active joys.

      1 · October 15, 2013

    • Brian

      -Deleuze on Spinoza: practical philosophy

      October 15, 2013

  • Brian

    "If so, then how could any creative act be appropriate to a given situation?"
    Right. I think at the level of *lived life*, 1 becomes 2, and no amount of intellectual rationalism defeats that. I.E., the understanding that we are essentially the same down breaks down into competition once we threaten one another. This is why Weil talks instead of the justice of human *heart* and not of the rational mind. It is only at the level of lived life where opposites are understood as complementary opposites and not polar (see, Daoism haha). The life of heart.

    October 11, 2013

    • Brian

      I meant to put a question mark at the end. As always

      October 11, 2013

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