This first extensive study of Spinoza's philosophy of mind concentrates on two problems crucial to the philosopher's thoughts on the matter: the requirements for having a thought about a particular object, and the problem of the mind's relation to the body. DellaRocca contends that Spinoza's positions are systematically connected with each other and with a principle at the heart of his metaphysical system: his denial of causal or explanatory relations between the mental and the physical. In this (...) way, DellaRocca's exploration of these two problems provides a new and illuminating perspective on Spinoza's philosophy as a system. (shrink)
DellaRocca concentrates on two problems crucial to Spinoza 's philosophy of mind: the requirements for having a thought about a particular object, and the problem of the mind's relation to the body. He contends that for Spinoza these two problems are linked and thus part of a systematic philosophy of mind.
This paper presents an argument for the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the PSR, the principle according to which each thing that exists has an explanation. I begin with several widespread and extremely plausible arguments that I call explicability arguments in which a certain situation is rejected precisely because it would be arbitrary. Building on these plausible cases, I construct a series of explicability arguments that culminates in an explicability argument concerning existence itself. This argument amounts to the claim that the (...) PSR is true. The plausibility of the initial cases in the series provides the basis of an argument for the PSR, an argument that can be rebutted only by drawing a line between the plausible early cases in the series and the apparently unacceptable later cases. I argue that no principled reason for drawing this line has been found and that one cannot draw an unprincipled or arbitrary line without begging the question. The paper concludes that, therefore, this defense of the PSR remains unrebutted and that we have a powerful, new reason to embrace the PSR. (shrink)
in his characteristically generous and searching discussion of my book, Spinoza, Daniel Garber rightly points out that I structure my interpretation of Spinoza’s system around the principle of sufficient reason. This is the principle that, as I and others sometimes put it, each fact has an explanation and is thus not brute, or the principle that each thing has an explanation. The ‘or’ will soon be important. Indeed, it might seem that I am too focused on the PSR—certainly I seem (...) that way to Garber1—for I seek to use the PSR to unlock any number of problems that interpreters of Spinoza have faced over the last three centuries. Garber does a great job of conveying the range of uses to which I put the PSR.. (shrink)
I argue that the standard counterexamples to the identity of indiscernibles fail because they involve a commitment to a certain kind of primitive or brute identity that has certain very unpalatable consequences involving the possibility of objects of the same kind completely overlapping and sharing all the same proper parts. The only way to avoid these consequences is to reject brute identity and thus to accept the identity of indiscernibles. I also show how the rejection of the identity of indiscernibles (...) derives some of its support from its affinity with a Kripkean account of trans-world identity and theories of direct reference. (shrink)
Can one have one's rationalism and subjectivity too? That is, can one endorse a full-blooded Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)—the claim that everything is intelligible—and yet regard experience of the world from a finite, subjective perspective as a genuine feature of that world? Many have thought not. Viewing the world sub specie aeternitatis—as rationalism seems to require—leaves no room for the arbitrary privileging of a particular spatio-temporal location that is often the hallmark of subjectivity. When faced with this apparent dilemma (...) between subjectivity and the PSR, Spinoza—a good rationalist—simply rejects subjectivity, or so many have thought. Such an interpretation has thrived since Hegel, according .. (shrink)
Spinoza's response to a certain radical form of scepticism has deep and surprising roots in his rationalist metaphysics. I argue that Spinoza's commitment to the Principle of Sufficient Reason leads to his naturalistic rejection of certain sharp, inexplicable bifurcations in reality such as the bifurcations that a Cartesian system posits between mind and body and between will and intellect. I show how Spinoza identies and rejects a similar bifurcation between the representational character of ideas or mental states and the epistemic (...) status of these ideas, a bifurcation to which Spinoza sees the radical sceptic committed. Spinoza's rejection of this bifurcation helps to explain some of his most cryptic statements concerning scepticism and also reveals a promising and highly metaphysical strategy for understanding and responding to scepticism. (shrink)
In this two-part series, I explore some of the most important and influential interpretations of Spinoza as an idealist. In this second part, I turn to more recent idealistic interpretations of Spinoza, including the important British idealist school (including Pollock, Martineau, Joachim, and John Caird) at the turn of the 20th century to a very recent and important kind of idealist reading found in the work of MichaelDellaRocca.
In two recent papers, MichaelDellaRocca accuses Descartes of reasoning circularly in the Fourth Meditation. This alleged new circle is distinct from, and more vicious than, the traditional Cartesian Circle arising in the Third Meditation. We explain DellaRocca’s reasons for this accusation, showing that his argument is invalid.
The introduction of Linear Logic extends the Curry-Howard Isomorphism to intensional aspects of the typed functional programming. In particular, every formula of Linear Logic tells whether the term it is a type for, can be either erased/duplicated or not, during a computation. So, Linear Logic can be seen as a model of a computational environment with an explicit control about the management of resources.This paper introduces a typed functional language ! and a categorical model for it.
The intelligibility of change in Descartes Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9494-0 Authors MichaelDellaRocca, Department of Philosophy, Yale University, P.O. Box 208306, New Haven, CT 06520-8306, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
The main thesis of MichaelDellaRocca’s outstanding Spinoza book (DellaRocca 2008a) is that at the very center of Spinoza’s philosophy stands the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): the stipulation that everything must be explainable or, in other words, the rejection of any brute facts. DellaRocca rightly ascribes to Spinoza a strong version of the PSR. It is not only that the actual existence and features of all things must be explicable, (...) but even the inexistence – as well as the absence of any feature of any thing – demands an explanation. DellaRocca does not stop here, however. He feeds his PSR monster with some more powerful steroids and suggests that Spinoza advocates what he terms “the twofold use of the PSR.” It is not only that everything must be explained and made intelligible, but it must ultimately be explained in terms of explainability or intelligibility itself. This twofold use of the PSR is the key to the entire book. Della Roca’s strategy throughout the book is to argue that any key feature of Spinoza’s system – be it causality, inherence, essence, consciousness, existence, rejection of teleology, goodness or political right – must be explained, and ultimately it must be explained in terms of intelligibility. “Spinoza single-mindedly digs and digs until we find that the phenomenon in question is nothing but some form of intelligibility itself, of explicability itself” (DellaRocca 2008a: 2). DellaRocca’s book came out together with a cluster of articles in which he develops in detail his new reading of Spinoza. In one of these articles, he warns the reader: “Don’t let me start” (Dell Rocca 2010: 1). The train that is about to embark leads to very bizarre terrain, and thus one should think twice before embarking on the “PSR Express.” In this paper I argue that the train was hijacked. This was a perfect crime: without anyone noticing it, the engine driver diverted the train to a new route, and as with other perfect crimes, it is none but the criminal himself who is capable of, and indeed will, bring about his own demise. As I will later argue, DellaRocca’s “PSR-on-steroids” will eventually cripple reason itself. But let us not run too fast, and start at the very beginning. I happily – or at least, so I think - board the “PSR Express.” I believe Spinoza is strongly committed to the PSR and makes very significant use of this principle, but, unlike DellaRocca, I do not think the PSR is the key to all mysteries Spinozist, nor do I believe Spinoza was committed to the reductionist program of explaining all things through intelligibility (i.e., the second use of the PSR). (shrink)