Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spinoza on the Relationship between the Mind, Body, and Technology

By: Hanan Khayal, Nourhan Tomoum and Salma Rizk

CAIRO, Egypt - The Department of Philosophy and the Philosophy Club held the lecture “Spinoza, the Mind/Body, and Technology” by Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch, associate professor of Philosophy and Dean of HUSS, who discussed Benedict Spinoza’s conception of the relationship between the mind, body, and technology.

         Bowditch began the lecture by giving a brief biography of Spinoza. Benedict Spinoza was a prominent philosopher of the 17th century whose ideas are still popular today. He then discussed some of Spinoza’s speculations. “Human beings are modes of God and nature who strive to expand their power of being," said Bowditch. He explained how passion could literally make a person less powerful physically. 

         Spinoza’s ideas revolve around the fact that there’s only one substance: the universe, which God created, and therefore, everything revolves around the idea of “God.” The lecturer continued to explain the relationship between the mind and body. He gave the example of how the creation of something like the printing press allowed for massive spread of books like Luther and Erasmus. Such books expanded the human minds and suggested new ways of thinking. Also, “The internet is simultaneously a physical and mental entity,” Bowditch emphasized.

         At the end of the lecture, Bowditch related Spinoza's classic ideas to modern times. He explained how technology played an vital role in our mental and physical lives. In the interview, when asked about further notes on Spinoza, Bowditch said, “Spinoza is a useful text, a useful metaphysical picture, saying what's going on.”

         The lecture was hosted in The American University in Cairo last Sunday in the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Hall. Steffen Stelzer, former chair of the Department of Philosophy, members of the Philosophy Club, students, and faculty members also attended the lecture. 

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