In What Is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari understand concepts in a very unconventional way. One of the central aspects of their theory is that concepts are self-referential and should not be understood in terms of any form of reference or representation. Instead, concepts are complex “assemblages” interacting on a “plane of immanence.” I argue that we can best understand this theory through the philosophy of Spinoza. The latter understands thought and ideas through the model of physical bodies. Spinoza’s theory of (...) thought is, as François Zourabichvili says, a “physics of thought.” I do not only call upon Spinoza to elucidate the general approach of Deleuze and Guattari; I also use Spinoza’s notions of modal essence and existence, interpreted by Deleuze in terms of intensity and extensity, to expound the details of their distinction between concepts and propositions. (shrink)
In this study, I will attempt a comparison between the philosophy of Spinoza (especially his Ethics) and the systemic philosophy. Firstly, I will analyze the systemic specific terminology; then it will be compared with the Spinozian one, and I will suggest a hypothesis in order to translate Spinoza's terms into systemic ones. Of this hypothesis, I will present the strengths and weaknesses, especially about the notion of 'centralization' of a system and about Spinoza's epistemology.
Spinoza’s stance against “bad” universals is well known but his own view on “good” universals is not obvious. In this paper we examine the ontological status of general terms in Spinoza against the background of his metaphysical ontology. We then move onto his view of universals in his discussions of the three kind of knowledge. I argue that Spinoza’s view may be best characterized as trope-conceptualism. Universals are, considered in things themselves, nothing but tropes, i.e., fully particularized properties of individual (...) objects. In particular, I claim that what Spinoza calls “attributes” in his grand scheme of ontology are tropes, of which we can have “adequate” ideas. Spinoza’s theory is a lot more delicate and sophisticated than is usually construed. (shrink)
It will be my business in what follows to show, in my "longwinded" manner, that we have here no callow confusion to be thus disposed of, but the very quintessence of Spinoza's solution of the otherwise insoluble problems of human epistemology and ontology.
This chapter describes Spinoza's obscure “ideas of ideas” doctrine and his claim that “as soon as one knows something, one knows that one knows it, and simultaneously knows that one knows that one knows, and so on, to infinity”. Spinoza holds that the human mind is a representation of the body: the “objectum of the idea constituting the human mind” is the human body. Suppose ideas are essentially self‐reflexive, and that this reflexive awareness, the “idea of the idea,” makes the (...) objectively‐real representational content present to mind. The chapter also suggests that Spinoza holds that adequate ideas come, by nature, with reflective knowledge. Reasoning through the Ethics is one way to come to the adequate ideas that silence doubts about the veridicality of one's adequate ideas of bodies. The “human mind has an adequate cognition of God's eternal and infinite essence”. (shrink)
This study considers freedom of speech and the rules of engagement in the public sphere; good government, civic responsibility, and public education; and the foundations of religion and society, as seen through the eyes of seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher, Spinoza.
Spinoza's guiding commitment to the thesis that nothing exists or occurs outside of the scope of nature and its necessary laws makes him one of the great seventeenth-century exemplars of both philosophical naturalism and explanatory rationalism. Nature and Necessity in Spinoza's Philosophy brings together for the first time eighteen of Don Garrett's articles on Spinoza's philosophy, ranging over the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, and political philosophy. Taken together, these influential articles provide a comprehensive interpretation of that (...) philosophy, including Spinoza's theories of substance, thought and extension, causation, truth, knowledge, individuation, representation, consciousness, conatus, teleology, emotion, freedom, responsibility, virtue, contract, the state, and eternity-and the deep interrelations among them. Each article aims to resolve significant problems in the understanding of Spinoza's philosophy in such a way as to make evident both his reasons for his views and the enduring value of his ideas. At the same time, Garrett's articles elucidate the relations between his philosophy and those of predecessors and contemporaries like Aristotle, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, and Leibniz. Lastly, the volume offers important and substantial replies to leading critics on four crucial topics: the necessary existence of God (Nature), substance monism, necessitarianism, and consciousness. (shrink)
Many current Marxist debates point to a crisis of imagination as a challenge to emancipatory thoughts and actions. The naturalisation of the capitalist mode of production within the production of subjectivity is among the chief reasons behind this state of affairs. This article contributes to the debate by focusing on the notion of imagination, marked by a deep ambivalence capable of both naturalising and denaturalising social relations constitutive of the established order. Such an understanding of imagination is constructed from within (...) the framework of historical materialism, and it draws on Spinoza and Marx, taking advantage of the similarities between the two with respect to the constitution of the subject. From this stems an investigation into the imagination as a material force that partakes both in subjection and liberation. This is further demonstrated in regard to juridical forms of subjectivation and the possibility of subverting these forms through imagination. (shrink)
Approaching the central themes of Spinoza's thought from both a historical and analytical perspective, this book examines the logical-metaphysical core of Spinoza's philosophy, its epistemology and its ramifications for his much disputed attitude towards religion. Opening with a discussion of Spinoza's historical and philosophical location as the appropriate context for the interpretation of his work, the book goes on to present a non-'logical' reading of Spinoza's metaphysics, a consideration of Spinoza's radical repudiation of Cartesian subjectivism and an examination of how (...) Spinoza wanted religion to be understood in the context of his wider thinking and the influence of his non-Christian background. Mason also assesses Spinoza's significance and importance for philosophy now. (shrink)
Like most, if not all, of his contemporaries, Spinoza never developed a full-fledged philosophy of mathematics. Still, his numerous remarks about mathematics attest not only to his deep interest in the subject (a point which is also confirmed by the significant presence of mathematical books in his library), but also to his quite elaborate and perhaps unique understanding of the nature of mathematics. At the very center of his thought about mathematics stands a paradox (or, at least, an apparent paradox): (...) mathematics provides Spinoza with an epistemic model. Mathematical knowledge is certain (II/138/9 and II/138/9), clear (IV/261/8), and free from teleological thinking (II/79/33), but the objects of mathematical knowledge – i.e., mathematical entities – are nothing but “auxila imaginationis [aids of the imagination],” (IV/57/16 and II/83/15), entities that are not real and merely assist the imagination in carving the world in manner that is suitable to our limited and distortive cognitive capacities. (shrink)
This paper begins with a pressing question for contemporary philosophy: What does it mean to read Spinoza’s Ethics today? Before we can address this particular question, we pose another, one possibly prior, question. The question is situated within Spinozism itself. It asks, ‘What does it mean to read, for Spinoza?’ Given Spinoza’s commitment to the theory of parallelism, reading affects both the body and the mind. We first show how an explicit formulation of the three kinds of material bodies allows (...) us to understand the process by which the meaning of a text can affect the body of the reader. We then show how the three kinds of knowledge evince the order in which textual meaning can affect the mind of the reader. We then claim that these tripartite orders map directly onto each other. After demonstrating the structural parallelism at the corporeal and cognitive levels, we return to further characterize the nature of the meaning of the meaning of a text in order to understand what it means to read, for Spinoza. We conclude with an observation about the necessary interrelatedness of metaphysics and ethics. (shrink)
This book interrogates the ontology of mathematical entities in Spinoza as a basis for addressing a wide range of interpretive issues in Spinoza’s epistemology—from his antiskepticism and philosophy of science to the nature and scope of reason and intuitive knowledge and the intellectual love of God. Going against recent trends in Spinoza scholarship, and drawing on various sources, including Spinoza’s engagements with optical theory and physics, Matthew Homan argues for a realist interpretation of geometrical figures in Spinoza; illustrates their role (...) in a Spinozan hypothetico-deductive scientific method; and develops Spinoza’s mathematical examples to better illuminate the three kinds of knowledge. The result is a portrait of Spinoza’s epistemology as sanguine and distinctive yet at home in the new Cartesian and Galilean scientific-philosophical paradigm. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Spinoza has often been cited as a classic example of the philosophical category of ‘rationalism’; and there is indeed much about his philosophy that can seem to warrant that classification. This essay will argue that it is nonetheless a simplification, which can cloud some of the most important and interesting insights that can be gained from reading Spinoza now. Although it is true that his treatment of human knowledge emphasized the exercise of reason, his crucial—and frequently misunderstood—concept of ratio (...) was much richer and more nuanced than the common understanding of ‘rationalism’ can capture. The essay seeks to clarify Spinoza’s version of human reason, elaborating its interconnections with imagination and emotion; and its positioning within the totality of Nature. It draws on comparisons with Pascal—and on consideration of Flaubert’s responses to Spinoza’s works—to illuminate what is distinctive in Spinoza’s account of human reason. What emerges, it is argued, is important—not only for contemporary philosophy, but more broadly for the understanding of conceptual aspects of current issues associated with the status of human beings within the natural world. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Genevieve Lloyd’s assessment of Spinoza’s rationalism shows how imagination and sensibility are integrated with reason in his metaphysics and equally makes clear how his philosophy illuminates a number of aesthetic works and political situations. This response considers the limitations of the aesthetic analogy she draws from Flaubert and also queries the contrast she sees between Spinoza’s account of reason and finitude and Pascal’s account of the same. Turning from Pascal, it concludes with a consideration of Spinoza’s response to Augustine’s (...) doctrine of original sin in the Political Treatise in order to indicate some problems that stem from a vision of politics grounded in a Spinozist metaphysics of multiplicity. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This commentary defends an interpretation of Spinoza that preserves some key elements of traditional rationalism, in which reason does have an independent path to the truth. While it agrees with Lloyd’s general view, in which reason, imagination, and emotion are more closely tied than the Cartesian scheme, in which reason is distinct from the world of bodies, the paper disagrees with her central claim that reason is constituted by the imagination. It argues that the imagination is effective to the (...) extent that it produces forms of knowledge that are analogous to reason. The paper considers her interpretation of Flaubert and the Biblical prophets and claims that it cannot account for why some forms of the imagination might be mistaken or superior to others. In conclusion, it points out that, while ‘unresolved multiplicity’ might be the predicament of those led by the imagination, Spinoza thinks that reason leads to a common perspective and is a superior guide to life. (shrink)
This chapter investigates Spinoza's conception of reason, focusing on (i) the difference between reason and the imagination, and (ii) the difference between reason and intuitive knowledge. The central interpretive debate this chapter considers is about the scope of rational cognition. Some commentators have argued that it is only possible to have rational cognition of properties that are universally shared, whereas intuitive knowledge may grasp the essences of particular individuals. Another prominent interpretation is that reason differs from intuition only in virtue (...) of its form or manner of apprehension, and not in virtue of the content or ideas it apprehends. However, authors on both sides of the debate have held that reason is incapable of grasping singular things. After summarizing the debate, this chapter presents an argument that Spinozan reason is not blind to particulars: it is (at least sometimes) capable of grasping the causal structure that characterizes an individual. (shrink)
Spinoza’s Ethics, and its project of proving ethical truths through the geometric method, have attracted and challenged readers for more than three hundred years. In Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination, Eugene Garver uses the imagination as a guiding thread to this work. Other readers have looked at the imagination to account for Spinoza’s understanding of politics and religion, but this is the first inquiry to see it as central to the Ethics as a whole—imagination as a quality to be (...) cultivated, and not simply overcome. Spinoza initially presents imagination as an inadequate and confused way of thinking, always inferior to ideas that adequately represent things as they are. It would seem to follow that one ought to purge the mind of imaginative ideas and replace them with rational ideas as soon as possible, but as Garver shows, the Ethics don’t allow for this ultimate ethical act until one has cultivated a powerful imagination. This is, for Garver, “the cunning of imagination.” The simple plot of progress becomes, because of the imagination, a complex journey full of reversals and discoveries. For Garver, the “cunning” of the imagination resides in our ability to use imagination to rise above it. (shrink)
This book reconstructs Spinoza's theory of the human mind against the backdrop of the twofold notion that subjective experience is explainable and that its successful explanation is of ethical relevance, because it makes us wiser, freer, and happier.
In this dissertation, I explore the distinction between reason (ratio) and intuitive knowledge (scientia intuitiva) in Spinoza’s Ethics in order to explain the superior affective power of the latter over the former. In addressing this fundamental but relatively unexplored issue in Spinoza scholarship, I suggest that these two kinds of adequate knowledge differ not only in terms of their method, but also with respect to their content. I hold that unlike reason, which is a universal knowledge, intuitive knowledge descends to (...) a level of particularity, including the adequate knowledge of one’s own essence as it follows directly from God, which is a superior form of self-knowledge. Since, for Spinoza, there is an intrinsic relationship between the pursuit of knowledge and how we live our lives, my interpretation of these two ways of knowing is that they are at the same time two ways of living. (shrink)
Michael LeBuffe explains claims about reason in Spinoza's metaphysics, theory of mind, ethics, and politics. He emphasizes the extent to which different claims build upon one another so contribute to the systematic coherence of Spinoza's philosophy.
In his Ethics, Spinoza maintains that God’s essence is expressed as both thought and extension. Despite this claim, however, Spinoza’s very definition of truth, understood as adequation, would seem to reduce the aspect of extension to an exclusively intellectual paradigm. I question the extent to which a body remains a body throughout the Ethics in the transition from the first knowledge of the imagination to the highest know ledge of adequate ideas. As a way to think beyond the totality of (...) adequation, I tum to Emmanuel Levinas’s distinction between totality and infinity. I reference Levinas in order to highlight certain impasses within Spinoza’s system and to serve as a possible alternative articulation of an extensional love of God. (shrink)
While both intuitive knowledge and reason are adequate ways of knowing for Spinoza, they are not equal. Intuitive knowledge, which Spinoza describes as the ‘greatest virtue of mind’, is superior to reason. The nature of this superiority has been the subject of some controversy due to Spinoza's notoriously parsimonious treatment of the distinction between reason and intuitive knowledge in the Ethics. In this paper, I argue that intuitive knowledge differs from reason not only in terms of its method of cognition—but (...) also in terms of its content. More specifically, I maintain that there is something that is known by intuition, namely the unique essences of things, that is not known by reason. My argument is supported by an examination of Spinoza's account of essences in the Ethics, which reveals that he is committed to both unique and shared essences. Based on this dual commitment, I argue that whereas for Spinoza both reason and intuition can be said to reach adequate knowledge of the shared essence of a thing, the unique essence of a singular thing, which is nothing but its actual essence, can only be known through intuitive knowledge. (shrink)
This chapter will discuss Spinoza’s critique of free will, though our brief study of this topic in the first part of the chapter will aim primarily at preparing us to address the main topic of the chapter, which is Spinoza’s explanation of the reasons which force us to believe in free will. At times, Spinoza seems to come very close to asserting the paradoxical claim that we are not free to avoid belief in free will. In the second part of (...) the chapter I will closely examine Spinoza’s etiological explanation of how we come to form the belief in free will. In the third part, I will raise and respond to a crucial objection to Spinoza’s explanation of the formation of our belief in free will. I will then turn to examine Fichte’s intriguing claim that Spinoza’s position on the issue of free will suffers from an internal contradiction, as evinced in Fichte’s suggestive remark: “Spinoza could not have been convinced of his own philosophy. He could only have thought of it; he could not have believed it [Er konnte seine Philosphie nur denken, nicht sie glauben].”. (shrink)
For Spinoza, there is but one substance. Everything of which we have everyday experience---tables, chairs, other people, etc.---are only finite modes of that one substance. The goal of this thesis is to provide a new defense of a metaphysical idealist interpretation of finite modes in Spinoza's metaphysical system. Though traditional interpretations take Spinoza to be an idealist with regard to finite modes, a number of more recent commentators have proposed alternative interpretations, which take finite modes to be metaphysically real. I (...) argue that a realist interpretation fails both to account for a number of passages in Spinoza's Ethics and to provide a satisfactory interpretation of the relationship between finite modes and substance. On the other hand, I also take seriously the objections these recent commentators have leveled against previous idealist interpretations. ;I argue that the central passage in this debate is the long scholium following the fifteenth proposition in Part I of Spinoza's Ethics. In this passage, Spinoza distinguishes between two ways of conceiving substance. The first way is via the imagination. In this way, we conceive substance superficially and so conceive it as divisible. The second way we conceive substance is via the intellect, and in this way we conceive of substance as it really is, indivisible, whole, and unique. This passage is the key to my defense of an idealist interpretation of finite modes. ;The traditional idealist interpretations of finite modes have taken finite modes to be illusory. Here I diverge from these other interpretations. Even though the imagination is conceiving of substance superficially, it is still conceiving of substance. For this reason, I think it is mistaken to understand Spinoza as holding that finite modes are illusory. ;Perhaps the most serious objection raised against idealist interpretations is that all ideas of finite modes turn out to be false on such a reading. Unfortunately, those very commentators who have given idealist interpretations suggest this result when they call finite modes 'illusory'. By adopting a coherence theory of truth, I argue that an idealist interpretation need not entail that all ideas of finite modes are false. (shrink)
This dissertation investigates the nature of imaginatio in the works of Spinoza. The first three chapters are devoted to explicating the ways imaginatio figures in Spinoza's accounts of the attributes, extensio and cogitatio. I show how both attributes are aspects of the same force in which substance perseveres through its essence, and how imaginatio is the key to understanding the movement from corpus to mente. In chapters 4 and 5, my work explores the place of imaginatio in the nature of (...) each of these attributes, examining first the dynamics of extensio before turning to the distinctions essential to cogitatio. These two chapters also trace in great detail the ways in which Spinoza's account of imaginatio derives, on the one hand, from his critique of the principles of Descartes' physics and, on the other, from his critique of Maimonides' account of prophecy. Concluding chapters focus on the 'intensive-extensive' aspects of imaginatio insofar as Spinoza shows these to possess ethical/political implications for the constitution of the state and for human relations as the expression of historical, and a-historical, force. (shrink)
This dissertation deals with Spinoza's notion of adequate ideas. From Spinoza's perspective, the adequate idea as God's essence entails absolute certainty. To know an idea adequately, one must reach the infinite and eternal aspects of God's essence. Only by doing so can one fulfill the criteria of truth, namely truth as coherence and truth as correspondence. A true idea is one which satisfies all the internal marks, and its ideatum as the physical image corresponds to every aspect of the thing. (...) ;I argue that the body plays a constitutive role in cognition. For Spinoza, the body is not subservient to the mind; mind and body are two sides of the same coin. Affects and conatus can both be attributed to the body. ;The late Descartes believes that imagination cannot reach God's infinity. I contend that on account of conatus as the strife for freedom and infinity, the Spinozistic body is capable of perceiving different modes of space and eventually attaining virtue infinity. Thereafter, the intellect can intuit actual infinity as substance. ;As for eternity, I reconstruct Spinoza's theory of belief with the intention to redeem its validity. A belief becomes true when it is objectively real and subjectively veracious. Moreover, I discuss the two laws of association. Conceiving ideas fortuitously and inadequately, the mind follows the natural law of association. As conatus intelligendi and active affects take shape at a later point, the mind relates ideas with necessity and follows the universal law of association. I further claim that in the third kind of knowledge the mind is in touch with two kinds of reality, one temporal and the other eternal. The eternal existence of the thing grounds its temporal existence. ;Knowing God's eternal essence and existence involves grasping the thing's common notions and intuiting its concrete essence. The intuition at issue is an unconditional positing. As such, it grounds all subsequent propositional and conditional positing. I identify this intuition as the experience of God's eternal existence. The problems of eternity and infinity being solved, the knowledge entails absolute certainty. (shrink)
" Nous sentons et nous expérimentons que nous sommes éternels. " Cette phrase énigmatique n'est peut-être pas soli-taire : elle appelle - et suppose pour être comprise - toute une problématique spinoziste de l'expérience, peu aperçue mais régissant des pans entiers du système. L'expérience, c'est d'abord la clef de l'itinéraire par lequel, au début de la Réforme de l'entendement, le narrateur arrache à la vie commune les raisons de chercher le vrai Bien. C'est ensuite, dans les champs de l'histoire (lieu (...) de la fortune), de la langue (lieu de l'usage), des passions (lieu de l'ingenium), le signe de tout ce qui paraît échapper à la Raison sans pourtant la contredire. C'est enfin la présence, en tout homme, d'une conscience de la nécessité au sein même de la finitude. Ainsi l'étude de l'expérience permet-elle de voir autrement la Raison elle-même ; de comprendre, aussi, la constitution du système qui apparaît comme une réflexion sur les formes et les moyens de la rationalité. (shrink)