Spinoza & Nietzsche: Morality And Knowledge

"I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted! I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now, was inspired by “instinct.” Not only is his overtendency like mine—namely to make all knowledge the most powerful affect—but in five main points of his doctrine I recognize myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters: he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world-order, the unegoistic, and evil. Even though the divergencies are admittedly tremendous, they are due more to the difference in time, culture, and science." Nietzsche on finding and reading Spinoza in depth.                                                                                                                          Both of these philosophers, either unsung or misunderstood in their time, have approached philosophy from a relative isolation. Spinoza was an excommunicated Jew, in addition to losing many members of his family by an early age. Nietzsche was isolated as well, but mostly from his own fiery temperament. Spinoza's quiet thoughtfulness, and resignation to his fate as a solitary thinker make him different from Nietzsche's outspoken opinions, yet they both come to similar philosophical conclusions. Even in their writing, the differences are dramatic! Despite this, their respective views on knowledge as the "most powerful affect", as Nietzsche states it, brings them together at their most basic. Both Spinoza and Nietzsche reject the idea of morality as inherent to life; rather morality as we live it stems from human constructs with their roots planted firmly in historical context. Spinoza's conception of God as an infinite substance, or Nature, is related to Nietzsche's rejection of God as an all-knowing bringer of truth and purpose to humanity. From this, the laws in a society stem not from some innate good with which all men should strive to act in accordance, but from the interactions of people themselves. Good and Bad are ultimately decisions of humanity!                                                                                                                                                              With this in mind, I've created a gallery to showcase their similarities. The art that follows is gathered to highlight their ideas as well as their similar mindset. 

Spinoza was excommunicated from Judaism as well as lost a number of family by the age of 21.
Nietzsche was set in a somewhat self-imposed exile due to his fiery temperament.
I am curious if both of their philosophies and ways of thinking in general were influenced by their intellectual isolation. In reading "Genealogy..." and "Ethics" as well as other writings of the two, I get a sense that their individual psychologies gave a strong foundation to their thought.
To Spinoza, Nature = God, an infinite substance of which there are two attributes, thought and extension. The book here represents thought and knowledge, with a physical form. They are both parts of the same substance. Nature is represented by the plant, though nature to Spinoza does not mean "the out of doors" as we call it in 2015. Nature is the conception of the infinite substance, or God.
Regarding ascetic ideals of a transcendent reality, "And here then we have a much higher kind of triumph, which is not merely a triumph over the senses, over appearances, but a cruel act of violence against reason..." Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, III, 12
"But that men should yield, or be compelled to yield, the right they have from nature, and bind themselves to a certain manner of living depends on a human decision." Spinoza, "A Critique of Traditional Religion"
"...viewed from the most advanced biological standpoint, conditions of legality can be only exceptional conditions, in that they are partial restrictions of the genuine will to live..." Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals
Both saw no inherent good and bad, only judgements of people. They are both philosophers who took this stance, whereas many of the most accepted philosophers in their times generally had notions of an inherent good or an inherent evil. especially in relation to a God.
Context is relevant to both. Morality is not an inherent idea devoid of historical influence per Nietzsche. Spinoza found every thought or action to be influenced by prior thought or action. These stem from the same foundation of context for ideas.
The morality of the world we know is formed by the people in it. Humans have created laws and punishments in order to "live better" together. The world on the table here implies this backward (to Spinoza and Nietzsche) conception of the idea of an inherent morality. To them, humans created that world, not vice versa.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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