«Spin – spider; octopus»
– Dutch-English dictionary
«When he happen’d to be tired by having applyed himself too much to his philosophical meditations, he went down stairs to refresh himself, and discoursed with the people of the house about any thing, that might afford matter for an ordinary conversation, and even about trifles. He also took pleasure in smoking a pipe of tobacco; or, when he had a mind to divert himself somewhat longer, he look’d for some spiders, and made ‘em fight together, or he threw some flies into the cobweb, and was so well pleased with that battle, that he wou’d sometimes break into laughter. He observed also, with a microscope, the different parts of the smallest insects, from whence he drew such consequences as seem’d to him to agree best with his discoveries.»
– Johannes Colerus, “The Life of Spinoza” (1705).
«Nothing is less Greek than the conceptual web-spinning of a hermit — amor intellectualis dei after the fashion of Spinoza.»
– Nietzsche, “Expeditions of an Untimely Man” in “Twilight of Idols”, 23.
«Psychologists should bethink themselves before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to DISCHARGE its strength–life itself is WILL TO POWER; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent RESULTS thereof. In short, here, as everywhere else, let us beware of SUPERFLUOUS teleological principles!–one of which is the instinct of self-preservation (we owe it to Spinoza’s inconsistency). It is thus, in effect, that method ordains, which must be essentially economy of principles. (…)
These pariahs of society, these long-pursued, badly-persecuted ones–also the compulsory recluses, the Spinozas or Giordano Brunos–always become in the end, even under the most intellectual masquerade, and perhaps without being themselves aware of it, refined vengeance-seekers and poison-Brewers (just lay bare the foundation of Spinoza’s ethics and theology!), not to speak of the stupidity of moral indignation, which is the unfailing sign in a philosopher that the sense of philosophical humour has left him. (…)
That is all of little value when estimated intellectually, and is far from being “science,” much less “wisdom”; but, repeated once more, and three times repeated, it is expediency, expediency, expediency, mixed with stupidity, stupidity, stupidity–whether it be the indifference and statuesque coldness towards the heated folly of the emotions, which the Stoics advised and fostered; or the no-more-laughing and no-more-weeping of Spinoza, the destruction of the emotions by their analysis and vivisection, which he recommended so naively (…)»
– Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil”, 13, 25, 198.
«And he [Christ] himself is so pale, so weak, so decadent… Even the palest of the pale are able to master him–messieurs the metaphysicians, those albinos of the intellect. They spun their webs around him for so long that finally he was hypnotized, and began to spin himself, and became another metaphysician. Thereafter he resumed once more his old business of spinning the world out of his inmost being – sub specie Spinozae -; thereafter he became ever thinner and paler–became the “ideal,” became “pure spirit,” became “the absolute,” became “the thing-in-itself.”… The collapse of a god: he became a “thing-in-itself.
The Christian concept of a god–the god as the patron of the sick, the god as a spinner of cobwebs (…)»
– Nietzsche, “Anti-Christ”, 17-18.
«For the spider, the spider is the consummate being; for the metaphysician, God is a metaphysician, which is to say, he spins…»
– Nietzsche, “Nachlass”, KSA 13:16.
«I will speak on the three subjects on which you desire me to disclose my sentiments, and tell you, first, that my opinion concerning God differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by modern Christians. For I hold that God is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient. I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul [1 Ep. John 4:13], and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different; I will even venture to affirm that I agree with all the ancient Hebrews, in so far as one may judge from their traditions, though these are in many ways
corrupted. The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus the unity of God and Nature (meaning by Nature a certain mass or corporeal matter), is wholly erroneous.
As regards miracles, I am of opinion that the revelation of God can only be established by the wisdom of the doctrine, not by miracles, or in other words by ignorance. This I have shown at sufficient length in Chapter VI. concerning miracles. I will here only add, that I make this chief distinction between religion and superstition, that the latter is founded on ignorance, the former on knowledge; this, I take it, is the reason why Christians are distinguished from the rest of the world, not by faith, nor by charity, nor by the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, but solely by their opinions, inasmuch as they defend their cause, like everyone else, by miracles, that is by ignorance, which is the source of all malice; thus they turn a faith, which may be true, into superstition. But I doubt very much whether rulers will ever allow the application of a remedy for this evil. Lastly, in order to disclose my opinions on the third point, I will tell you that I do not think it necessary, for salvation to know Christ according to the flesh: but with regard to the Eternal Son of God, that is the Eternal Wisdom of God, which has manifested itself in all things and especially in the human mind, and above all in Christ Jesus, the case is far otherwise. For without this no one can come to a state of blessedness, inasmuch as it alone teaches, what is true or false, good or evil. And, inasmuch as this wisdom was made especially manifest through Jesus Christ, as I have said, His disciples preached it, in so far as it was revealed to them through Him, and thus showed that they could rejoice in that spirit of Christ more than the rest of mankind. The doctrines added by certain churches, such as that God took upon Himself human nature, I have expressly said that I do not understand; in fact, to speak the truth, they seem to me no less absurd than would a statement, that a circle had taken upon itself the nature of a square. This I think will be sufficient explanation of my opinions concerning the three points mentioned. Whether it will be satisfactory to Christians you will know better than I. Farewell.»
– Spinoza, letter 21 to Oldenburg, Nov. or Dec. 1675.
«Christians interpret spiritually all those doctrines which the Jews accepted literally.»
– Spinoza, letter 23 to Oldenburg, Dec. 1675.
«The passion, death and burial of Christ I accept literally, but his resurrection I understand in an allegorical sense. (…) But Paul, to whom Christ also appeared later, rejoices that he knows Christ not after the flesh, but after the spirit.» [2 Cor 5:16]
– Spinoza, letter 25 to Oldenburg, The Hague, 7 February 1676.
«”O ciel au-dessus de moi, ciel pur et haut! Ceci est maintenant pour moi ta pureté qu’il n’existe pas d’éternelle araignée et de toile d’araignée de la raison: que tu sois un plancher où dansent les hasards divins, que tu sois une table divine pour les dés et les joueurs divins…” [Nietzsche, Zarathrusta, III] (…)
«…nous pourrions dire comme Charles le Téméraire en lutte avec Louis XI: “Je combats l’universelle araignée” [Nietzsche, “Genealogy of Morals”] (…)
…cet idéal dans lequel la raison plonge, ce corps mystique où elle prend racine, l’intériorité – l’araignée. (…)
Nietzsche n’en critique pas moins Spinoza (…): Spinoza n’a pas su s’élever jusqu’à la conception d’une volonté de puissance, il a confondu la puissance avec la simple force et conçu la force de manière réactive (cf. le conatus et la conservation).»
– Deleuze, “Nietzsche et la Philosophie”, p. 29, 31, 42, 70.
«Mais qu’est-ce que c’est, un corps sans organes? L’araignée non plus ne voit rien, ne perçoit rien, ne se souvient de rien… Sans yeux, sans nez, sans bouche, elle répond uniquement aux signes, est pénétrée du moindre signe qui traverse son corps comme une onde et la fait sauter sur sa proie. (…) Le narrateur a beau être doué d’une sensibilité extrême, d’une mémoire prodigieuse, il n’a pas d’organes pour tant qu’il est privé de tout usage volontaire et organisé de ces facultés. En revanche, une faculté s’exerce en lui quand elle est contrainte et forcée de le faire; et l’organe correspondant se pose sur lui, mais comme une ébauche intensive éveillée par les ondes qui en provoquent l’usage involontaire. Sensibilité involontaire, mémoire involontaire, pensée involontaire qui sont chaque fois comme les réactions globales intenses du corps sans organes à des signes de telle ou telle nature.»
– Deleuze, “Présence et fonction de la folie, l’araignée”, in “Proust et les signes”, p. 218.
«… the common German “garden spider” has, in fact, a white marking on its back in the shape of a cross, a marking that gave rise to the name Kreuzspinne.» [“cross-spider”]
– Alan D. Schrift, “Arachnophobe or arachnophile?” in “A Nietzschean Bestiary“, footnote 7.