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Re: Spinoza and Identity

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 00:23:15 +0100
Message-Id: <A59899BF-AAB5-4FF1-ADDC-B78EF0FF09C7@bblfish.net>
To: Jeff Sayre <jeff@sayremedia.com>, "public-xg-webid@w3.org XG" <public-xg-webid@w3.org>

On 7 Dec 2011, at 00:11, Jeff Sayre wrote:

> I cannot determine if Spinoza envisioned a Web of Linked Data, but your
> email made me think of this thought piece on how Socrates would view the
> Web.
> http://bigthink.com/ideas/39407

yes, French Philosopher Bernard Stiegler has spent the last year in his online course

going over Plato's work, and showing in detail the relationship between Socrates and Plato.
Greek civilisation at the time was in situation of crisis, having slowly moved over 200 years
from an oral to a fully written tradition which gave rise to the democracy of Athens. 
Bernard Stiegler will be speaking at the WWW Conference in Lyon http://www2012.wwwconference.org/
So Socrates never wrote anything, but Plato did, and he wrote in this writing about someone who 
was always searching not for answers but to push questions back further. Plato then became in the
Republic an absolutist of ideas.

It is these ideas that Spinoza started undoing in his Ethics as I understand it. The idea of thoughts
as abstract objects that are independent of other things coming from Plato is replaced by Spinoza 
by the fundamentally relational nature of things. 

But was far as we are concerned in Spinoza's world we are composed of relations and are enmeshed in relations.
Our identity emerges from this meshing. The Platonist view would be a much more object oriented view on
could say or perhaps even the beginning of an Ideal view, with Classes existing first, and objects
second. In Spinoza's view it seems, relations are primary. One could say that the web is a confirmation or 
application of this philosophy.


>> Is Spinoza the grandfather of the Semantic Web?
>> Here is a short presentation by Philosopher Rocco Gangle: "Spinoza,
>> Language, and Relational Identity"
>> http://vimeo.com/9581201
>> "Spinoza's philosophy shows how relationality and, in particular, the
>> human capacity for language provides a model of human personhood in which
>> individual subjectivity and identity exist only through mutually affective
>> relations with the world and with others. Spinoza's Ethics offers definite
>> ways to conceive and to implement interdisciplinary possibilities,
>> particularly by applying the relational conception of personal identity
>> more generally to the identities of collectivities and traditions. In this
>> way, the concept of relational personhood opens out onto a more general
>> framework for rethinking the constructive relationality of groups,
>> traditions, disciplines and ways of life."
>> On the W3C WebID Incubator Group we have come across exactly this feature
>> of identity. Your identity is how you are related to other people or
>> things. Thinking this way leads one down paths were many problems suddenly
>> just disappear that seemed insurmountable when thinking of things
>> atomistically.
>> See http://webid.info/spec .
>> Henry
>> Social Web Architect
>> http://bblfish.net/

Social Web Architect
Received on Tuesday, 6 December 2011 23:23:46 UTC

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