In Smith Justin & Fraenkel Carlos (eds.), The Rationalists. Springer/Synthese. pp. 101--122 (2011)

Hasana Sharp
McGill University
Although Spinoza’s words about intuition, also called “the third kind of knowledge,” remain among the most difficult to grasp, I argue that he succeeds in providing an account of its distinctive character. Moreover, the special place that intuition holds in Spinoza’s philosophy is grounded not in its epistemological distinctiveness, but in its ethical promise. I will not go as far as one commentator to claim that the epistemological distinction is negligible (Malinowski-Charles 2003),but I do argue that its privileged place in Spinoza’s system belongs primarily to its ethical importance, by which I mean that intuition’s value is prized by virtue of the agency it confers upon those who enjoy it. Spinoza often notes that what distinguishes the “wise man” is that he is more powerful, able to do more. That is,the wise and free person with whose description the Ethics culminates is set apart not, first and foremost, by virtue of possessing a scientific account of the true cosmological order. The Ethics is perhaps called an ethics, rather than a treatise on metaphysics or knowledge, because it concludes with a demonstration of how one comes to be able to do what is best and to live a more joyful life. Intuitive science is essential to the characterization of the power to think and live well.
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