Spinoza and the Metaphysics of Scepticism

Mind 116 (464):851-874 (2007)
Abstract
Spinoza's response to a certain radical form of scepticism has deep and surprising roots in his rationalist metaphysics. I argue that Spinoza's commitment to the Principle of Sufficient Reason leads to his naturalistic rejection of certain sharp, inexplicable bifurcations in reality such as the bifurcations that a Cartesian system posits between mind and body and between will and intellect. I show how Spinoza identies and rejects a similar bifurcation between the representational character of ideas or mental states and the epistemic status of these ideas, a bifurcation to which Spinoza sees the radical sceptic committed. Spinoza's rejection of this bifurcation helps to explain some of his most cryptic statements concerning scepticism and also reveals a promising and highly metaphysical strategy for understanding and responding to scepticism
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