Spinoza was born in 1632 in Amsterdam and died in 1677. His real name is Baruch Spinoza. However, after isolating himself from Judaism, he changed his name to Benedictus de Spinoza. He was one of the most important and radical philosophers of the early modern era. His ideas were heavily influenced by Descartes’ thoughts, especially the thought of the substance which he ultimately called absolute reality.
The development of Spinoza’s increasingly brilliant thoughts in the field of philosophy made Jewish religious leaders feel anxious and anxious, because Spinoza’s teachings were considered unorthodox. As a result in 1656, Spinoza was excommunicated from the Synagogue, an area in Amsterdam. After leaving the Synagogue, Spinoza experienced a change in his life. At that moment, he changed his name to Benedictus de Spinoza as a sign of his new life.
In this state of isolation Spinoza made a living by sharpening the lens while constantly writing down his thoughts. Shortly thereafter, he contracted tuberculosis and finally died on February 21, 1677, at the age of 44 years. During his excommunication, in 1673, in fact he was invited to teach at the University of Heidelberg, but he refused. For him, there is nothing more terrible than the fact that people are put to death for thinking freely. This is the reason for refusing the invitation.
Spinoza’s view of a single substance is his response to Descartes’ thinking about the problem of substance and the relationship between soul and body. The first problem that disturbed Spinoza’s thinking was that for a long time and so strong was the belief of Christians who believed in materialism, including immortality of the soul and the existence of God. This is quite confusing, because for a long time the Greeks thought that there were only material things, so they were materialists. Now, the task of philosophers is to explain immaterial figures, such as the soul, God, and so on. In other words, the task of philosophers is to solve the conflicting issues between materialism and immaterialism.
One of the ideas put forward by Spinoza in understanding absolute reality is infinite substance or God. Spinoza’s ideas in expressing this absolute reality were heavily influenced by Descartes’ rationalism. However, the influence of Descartes who has shaped his thought patterns, not all agreed well by Spinoza, especially in understanding the substance as an absolute reality that is absolute. In understanding substance, Descartes sees that substance is a reality that does not need anything else. In other words, Descartes saw God as a substance that did not need anything else to be. However, aside from the substance as absolute reality, Descartes accepted other substances even though the substance in question was not in absolute effect, but rather relative.
Regarding the substance proposed by Descartes, Spinoza saw that Descartes did not have an accurate commitment to defining the substance itself, because in reality, Descartes still accepted the existence of other substances. Herein lies the disagreement of Spinoza with the ideas proposed by Descartes. On the other hand, however, Spinoza accepted the idea Descartes offered that the substance was something that did not need anything else, meaning that the substance was an independent, autonomous, whole, one, and single reality.
To understand the substance offered by Descartes, Spinoza argues that the substance is something that exists in itself or something that does not require other aspects to form itself into being. So, the substance stands alone and forms itself. That is what is called causa prima non causata. Therefore, in the existing order (primum ontologicum), the substance is referred to as the first and the original. Whereas in the logical system (primum logicum), substance is the first and absolute reality. From this it can be concluded that in Spinoza’s view, there is only one substance, and that substance is “He who is Infinite” or “God”. Spinoza’s concept of metaphysics of substance as absolute reality wants to show clearly the highest and most perfect object of exploration of metaphysical reflection on reality, namely the reflection of God as an absolute, pure, single, and perfect reality.
But, besides God as substance, Spinoza also sees nature as substance. In other words, in Spinoza’s view, God or nature is a single reality that has a unity. This understanding departs from an understanding of the distinction between substances which Spinoza calls attributes and modi. Modi is the mode of being of attributes, and indirectly of substance.
It is true that Spinoza acknowledged that there was only one substance, but in that substance contained innumerable attributes. However, of the many essential properties, there are only two that can be known by humans, namely the breadth (extension) and thinking (cogitatio). In this case, Spinoza sees God as breadth (deus est res extensa) and thought (deus est res cogitans). Meanwhile, breadth and thought are two things that have the same substance. Spinoza conceived of this problem in his teaching of a single substance, namely God or nature (deus sive natua). According to Spinoza, absolute reality has an eternal, infinite, and singular nature. From this understanding, Spinoza saw, because God is the only substance, then everything on earth or nature comes from God.
Here, Spinoza was constantly immersed in a reflection of the relationship between God and humans as a whole. So, to get to God, Spinoza said there was need for love. Love is a form of the highest recognition of God. Through love, Spinoza sees that we can accept something that exists in nature, so that humans submit themselves completely to God as an absolute reality. Starting from here, Spinoza called a philosopher who was immersed in God.
Spinoza is a logical, consistent, and consistent thinker. From one main principle (God – nature), he deductively bases all other things. He taught that humans are a unified whole, one substance that has two aspects, namely soul and body. So, in this case, he is a thinker who contributes a proper understanding of humans as (a) plural dimensioned beings. The main problem lies precisely in the basis of all his philosophical buildings, namely equating God with nature. God or nature is the only substance, while the other is an embodiment or mode of existence from God or nature, from one and the same substance. In this regard, it’s no wonder that Spinoza rejects individuality, freedom, and human responsibility. Spinoza’s philosophy in general, and the teachings on ethics in particular, contain many contradictions. The carefulness of the method is not a serious and punitive ethic, instead it produces a dictate from a fair and subtle common sense.