duminică, 8 ianuarie 2012

Spinoza: Images and Affection


From the image of things past or future man is affected by the same emotion of pleasure or pain as from the image of a thing present. (Spinoza)

The image proves to be insensible to the thing it represents in respect of its reality. And especially to its reality in time. Moreover, we might claim that the images are timeless and unreal. With this statement, the absurdity of the philosophers who accused the unreality of sensible things becomes more intelligible. However, nothing justifies the repudiation of timeless and unreal nature of images for postulating instead the reality of some intelligible things, as Platonic Forms. For such things are also timeless, even if their timeless nature is the main reason for praising them as high means or goals of knowledge.

It is noticeable that Plato calls the Form eidos, closing it to the meaning of image. Apart from the advantage of the image in giving certainty, it seems to be preferred for its floating over time with such indifference, so that an image of a past or future thing, person or event may affect the man as ‘the image of a thing present’. Forms and concepts are not jeopardized by anything for being used in different times and by different persons.

They do not produce pleasure or pain, but they have the power to affect as realities that come to us from outside, as if they were parts of an overall comprehending world

For someone who does not think in a philosophical way, the floating of the timeless concepts is a sign of their lack of stable ground. They seem to be outrageous means of delusion, drawing the man to a world that is not his own. As Socrates attempted with his interlocutors, nobody can be persuaded of the existence of the Forms, if he cannot come himself to them. Or, in other words, if he does not participate in their formation.

The same occurs in the case of images: they do not affect the man, if he does not participate in their existence. Therefore, the past or future images of some inexistent things cannot affect a person to the level of making him to believe that the images are of a world different from him. The impressive illusions exposed on the stages cannot delude a man. Moreover, even the images of real existent things or persons from the past cannot affect the man, if he is not permanently in touch with those things or persons otherwise than by recalling their images. Their power to affect is limited by our disposal to be affected in a pleasant or painful way; they do not invade our life without our consent. So, the image of the dead father has the power of affecting only over Hamlet, who was in a relation with his father in his present state of life deeper than images of him could suggest.

The limited power of an image means that it is not received as a figure of our world. It comes to us along with the insignificance of a floating item, which can be easily abandoned for receiving other images of existent or inexistent things or persons. However, the image might persist without affecting us as it does an ‘image of a thing present’. It does so as a matter of thinking and, in this way, it is easier to refute its meaning, since the thought provides many means of refuting, denying, and classifying persons and things, even if they are real ones.

The thought often becomes repugnant while it diminishes the value of images that belonged to dear things and persons, but it  is preoccupied to burry in a noble manner the remains of what died from our world long time ago.