SPINOZA’S MISTAKE: THE DESIRE FOR
In the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, Spinoza presents the knowledge of God as the Supreme Good, and this is because he sees this knowledge as the only possible source for a continuous and eternal joy. Spinoza will never change his mind about the intuition that only the knowledge of God can provide eternal joy, and he will remain faithful to this understanding of the Supreme Good and its supreme desirability. The following reflections are devoted to exploring in detail Spinoza’s motivations in the Treatise. The purpose is to uncover the mistake that undermines Spinoza’s overall solution to the problem he faces, and ultimately affects the main goal of his philosophical project. The mistake can be spelled out quite straightforwardly: no affect (including love and joy) can be eternal. The most interesting aspect of this mistake is not what it affirms, but the reasons behind it that pushed Spinoza to blindly embrace it for his whole life. Bringing into relief this mistake is not a way of dismissing Spinoza’s philosophy. On the contrary, a great thinker is one who makes great mistakes, and from them much can be learned.