Dissertation, Université de Neuchatel (2016)

Christiaan Remmelzwaal
Université de Neuchâtel
The objective of this doctoral dissertation is to interpret the explanation of akrasia that the Dutch philosopher Benedictus Spinoza (1632-1677) gives in his work The Ethics. One is said to act acratically when one intentionally performs an action that one judges to be worse than another action which one believes one might perform instead. In order to interpret Spinoza’s explanation of akrasia, a large part of this dissertation investigates Spinoza’s theory of emotion. The first chapter is introductory and outlines Spinoza’s categorisation of mental states and his conception of the relation between the mind and the body. The second chapter deals with Spinoza’s epistemology and the relation between cognitive mental states and states of the brain. The third chapter argues that Spinoza holds that emotions are non-cognitive mental states that are caused by cognitive mental states. The fourth chapter interprets Spinoza’s discussion of the emotions of Joy and Sadness insofar as they are mental states. The fifth chapter suggests that when Spinoza says that the power of our body is increased or decreased when we are joyful or sad, he means that when we are joyful or sad then, at the same time, our heart and perhaps the organs of our digestive system are affected in such a way that our bodily health is increased or decreased. The sixth chapter points to three problems that concern Spinoza’s definitions of the psychophysical states of pleasure, pain, cheerfulness and melancholy, and offers slightly altered definitions of these states. The seventh chapter interprets the various aspects of Spinoza’s conception of the emotion of Desire, both insofar as it is a state of the mind and insofar it is a state of the body, as well as the relation between the emotion of Desire and man’s striving for self-preservation. The eighth chapter discusses what Spinoza writes on the strength of emotions and the way in which we make value judgments in order to finally interpret why it is, according to Spinoza, that ‘we so often see the better for ourselves but follow the worse’.
Keywords Spinoza  emotion  akrasia
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Spinoza.Michael Della Rocca - 2008 - New York: Routledge.
Essays on Actions and Events.Tyler Burge - 1980 - Ethics 93 (3):608-611.
Spinoza's 'Ethics': An Introduction.Steven Nadler - 2006 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 71 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Spinoza on the Problem of Akrasia.Eugene Marshall - 2010 - European Journal of Philosophy 18 (1):41-59.
Spinoza's Account of Akrasia.Martin Lin - 2006 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (3):395-414.
The Susceptibility of Intuitive Knowledge to Akrasia in Spinoza's Ethical Thought.Sanem Soyarslan - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (4):725-747.
Emotion, Appetition, and Conatus in Spinoza.Lee C. Rice - 1977 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 31 (1):101--116.
Spinoza and the Problem of Mental Representation.Matthew Homan - 2014 - International Philosophical Quarterly 54 (1):75-87.
Spinoza's Theory of Motivation.Andrew Youpa - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (3):375–390.
Spinoza and the Case for Philosophy by Elhanan Yakira.Karolina Hübner - 2016 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 54 (1):170-171.


Added to PP index

Total views
878 ( #7,470 of 2,497,712 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
156 ( #3,849 of 2,497,712 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes