Deluded Individualism – NYTimes.com

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/deluded-individualism/

Spinoza also questioned the human pretense to autonomy. Men believe
themselves free, he said, merely because they are conscious of their
volitions and appetites, but they are wholly determined. In fact,
Spinoza claimed ??? to the horror of his contemporaries ???that we are all
just modes of one substance, ???God or Nature??? he called it, which is
really the same thing. Individual actions are no such thing at all;
they are expressions of another entity altogether, which acts through
us unwittingly. To be human, according to Spinoza, is to be party to a
confounding existential illusion ??? that human individuals are
independent agents ??? which exacts a heavy emotional and political toll
on us. It is the source of anxiety, envy, anger ??? all the passions
that torment our psyche ??? and the violence that ensues. If we should
come to see our nature as it truly is, if we should see that no
???individuals??? properly speaking exist at all, Spinoza maintained, it
would greatly benefit humankind.

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