Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Death and Aesthetics

 Spinoza writes, “A free man, that is to say, a man who lives according to the dictates of reason alone, is not led by fear of death, but directly desires the good, that is to say, desires to act, and to preserve his being in accordance with the principle of seeking his own profit. He thinks, therefore, of nothing less than death, and his wisdom is a meditation upon life.”  Ethics 4 68.

Death is nothing to us, says Epicurus.  For Spinoza, a free man is someone who lives according to reason and does not therefore fear death.  He follows the "principle of seeking his own profit" which seems like a kind of egoism, but really, in the end, is not.  The free man has a wisdom that is "a meditation upon life."  We meditate on the joys of life, on the pleasures of life, on the goods of life.  Many, perhaps most, of those goods are aesthetic.  The Epicurean sees this.  Death is nothing to us means meditate on the goods of life, which is to say the goods of us as sensuous embodied beings.  These goods are, mainly, aesthetic goods.  Death is nothing to us and thus we should follow the philosophy of Pater.  Maximize the moments of aesthetic perfection in life.  

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