I remember studying Descartes in French literature last year. I really related to the four rules of his “Method”:
- Never accept anything for true that you are not sure is such;
- Divide the problem into as many parts as possible;
- Solve simple problems first, then move to more complex ones;
- Calculate, organize, and present in general, so that you don’t miss anything in the solution.
I was never a fan of Math and Geometry tests and exams, but I loved the logic required for them. I was in the ninth grade when I first started solving geometrical problems, and I remember my teacher being extremely strict about our final exposition of the solution; I learned to phrase my steps, explain even the smallest one of them, and I took a lot of pride in it. I even used my nice pen. I had always been an organized person, and growing up knowing that what I considered a need for order was not a crazy thing but a real thing, with a whole philosophy to back it up, gave me tranquility.
As for Spinoza’s thinking, I recently discovered that there are historicocritical studies about the writing of the Bible, and I actually am really interested to know more about them. I never think about it when I first read a book that was written decades or centuries ago, but the reasons for and the context in which the books are written matter a lot. If those studies were taught (if not in churches, at least at school), some of our major societal rules would shift and change. Probably for the better.