Spinoza on negation, mind-dependence and the reality of the finite

In Yitzhak Melamed (ed.), The Young Spinoza: A Metaphysician in the Making. pp. 221-37 (2015)
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Abstract

The article explores the idea that according to Spinoza finite thought and substantial thought represent reality in different ways. It challenges “acosmic” readings of Spinoza's metaphysics, put forth by readers like Hegel, according to which only an infinite, undifferentiated substance genuinely exists, and all representations of finite things are illusory. Such representations essentially involve negation with respect to a more general kind. The article shows that several common responses to the charge of acosmism fail. It then argues that we must distinguish the well-founded ideality of representations of finite things from mere illusoriness, insofar as for Spinoza we can have true knowledge of what is known only abstractly. Finite things can be seen as well-founded beings of reason. The article also proposes that within Spinoza's framework it is possible to represent a finite thing without drawing on representations of mind-dependent entities.

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Karolina Hübner
Cornell University