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Desire (Shahwa) and Spiritedness (Ghaḍab) vs. Conatus

Desire (Shahwa) and Spiritedness (Ghaḍab) vs. Conatus

Chapter:
(p.19) One Desire (Shahwa) and Spiritedness (Ghaḍab) vs. Conatus
Source:
Maimonides and Spinoza
Author(s):
Joshua Parens
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226645766.003.0002

This chapter discusses Spinoza's view of conatus, which has long been considered as highly novel and as central to his teaching in the Ethics. As the desire to exist, conatus is more than the tendency of human beings to preserve themselves and more than the tendency of human beings to conceive ideas. Similar to Nietzsche's will to power, conatus manifests itself in the most primitive kinds of beings and in the highest activities of the most complex beings. It is the force that drives all being and becoming; in other words, it is that force itself. Ultimately, conatus is the efficient cause of all activity whether viewed physically, metaphysically, or epistemologically. On the other hand, no comparable term can be found in Maimonides's thought since he does not seek a unifying principle but a unifying first cause, which is God.

Keywords:   conatus, ideas, nietzsche, will to power, being, becoming

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