Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 12 (1-4):1 – 14 (1969)
Spinoza's avowed aim is to discover and present the essential stages in achieving the life of human blessedness. The most important element in this progression is knowledge, of one's own nature as man, and of one's place in the universe. Utility as opposed to truth of belief will not serve Spinoza's purpose. Spinoza assumes the unity of the human individual without question, and it is doubtful whether this assumption is justified on his own principles. The concept of the human individual is examined first as a system of modifications of substance under the attributes of extension and thought, then as enduring and finally as an agent. The conclusion is reached that unity and self?identity are illusions, but the question then arises: Who or what could be under such illusions ? The possibility of false claims to self?identity is examined and found to be difficult to accept. Nevertheless, if Spinoza is taken as speaking suitably at varying levels of discourse, he has enlightening things to say about the human person, even though from one point of view his enterprise may be seen as self?stultifying
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