Finding a way to live meaningfully is not easy. If it were, we should certainly judge men insane who find meaning in killing each other. We may even wonder about ourselves, why we so often see the right but do the wrong. So many things happening in the world and in our own lives seem so completely crazy, we're apt to think, as many idealistic people do, that humankind is for the most part mad.
That's an escape hatch Spinoza never used. He accused philosophers - obviously excluding himself - of being dreamers who "conceive men not as they are, but as they would like them to be." "They (moralizing philosophers) have learnt how to shower extravagant praise on a human nature that nowhere exists and to revile that which exists in actuality." Spinoza's indictment remains as true today as it was in 1676 when he began his Political Treatise. Cable TV religionists and other modern-day moralists castigate as degenerates (or sinners) those of us whose actions do not measure up to so-called Biblical laws. While this approach to the maintenance of order marginally achieves its goals, the population of our prisons (plus the number of us who would rightfully be in prison if the civil laws were universally enforced) suggests the moralists' "methods are unsound".
Franklin Lonzo Dixon, Jr.: Spinoza's God