“ ’Scientia Intuitiva’: Spinoza’s Third Kind of Cognition”

In Johannes Haag (ed.), Übergänge - diskursiv oder intuitiv? Essays zu Eckart Förster die 25 Jahre der Philosophie. Klostermann. pp. 99-116 (2013)
Authors
Yitzhak Melamed
Johns Hopkins University
Abstract
I am not going to solve in this paper the plethora of problems and riddles surrounding Spinoza’s scientia intuitiva, but I do hope to break some new ground and help make this key doctrine more readily understandable. I will proceed in the following order (keep in mind the word ‘proceed’). I will first provide a close preliminary analysis of the content and development of Spinoza’s discussion of scientia intuitiva in the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and the Ethics. In the second part, I will address two closely related questions which have drawn the attention of many readers: (i) Is scientia intuitiva a cognition that is inferential? and (ii) Is scientia intuitiva a kind of cognition that is closely tied to causation? To the surprise of many, I will argue that Spinoza’s intuitive knowledge is both inferential and causal (in a certain rigid sense of ‘inferential’ and ‘causal’ to be explained below). In the third and final part, I will explain Spinoza’s preference for scientia intuitiva and his frequent use of mathematical examples, and then attempt to map the major remaining questions and problems surrounding the doctrine.
Keywords Spinoza  Intuition  Goethe  Mathematics  Kinds of Cognitions
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