Spinoza and indexicals

Inquiry 40 (1):3 – 22 (1997)
Abstract
Spinoza distinguishes between three grades of knowledge, (i) sense perception and hearsay; (ii) abstract scientific knowledge; (iii) intuitive reason. It is implied that our intellectual ideal should be to pass from the first to the second, and then from the second to the third. It is problematic, however, how such supersession of the first kind of knowledge is an intelligible ideal. For, on the face of it, it is this alone which can direct our attention on to those particulars (single individuals) a better understanding of which is the main value of the second and third types of knowledge. But perhaps the third (if not, the second) kind of knowledge targets particulars from its own resources. However, it is doubtful that this is quite Spinoza's position. So there is something of a problem as to how he conceives the clearest knowledge of particulars which it makes sense to strive for. There is even a related problem as to how God can possess such knowledge, at least of particulars qua extended. An attempt is made to find a Spinozistic answer to these problems including a Spinozistic account of indexicals such as 'this'.
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