In the following article, I aim to elucidate the meaning and scope of Spinoza’s vocabulary related to ‘consciousness’. I argue that Spinoza, at least in his Ethics, uses this notion consistently, although rarely. He introduces it to account for the knowledge we may have of the mind considered alone, as conceptually distinct from the body. This serves two purposes in Spinoza’s Ethics: to explain our illusion of a free will, on the one hand, and to refer to the knowledge we (...) have of our mind as something eternal, on the other. I contend, therefore, that we should not confuse Spinoza’s technical use of the notion of ‘consciousness’ with the ‘degrees of animation’ that he also evokes in the Ethics. Consciousness, for Spinoza, is neither a faculty, nor a property specific to certain minds or ideas. Furthermore, consciousness does not come in degrees. Indeed, Spinoza’s account of consciousness is not intended to differentiate kinds of minds in terms of awareness of their respective ideas. (shrink)
The aim of this article is twofold: to provide a valid account of Spinoza’s theory of fictitious ideas, and to demonstrate its coherency with the overall modal metaphysics underpinning his philosophical system. According to Leibniz, the existence of romances and novels would be sufficient to demonstrate, against Spinoza’s necessitarianism, that possible entities exist and are intelligible, and that many other worlds different from ours could have existed in its place. I argue that Spinoza does not actually need to resort to (...) the notion of possible entities in order to explain the incontrovertible existence of fictions and fictitious ideas. In order to demonstrate this, I first show how, according to Spinoza, true ideas of nonexistent things need not be regarded as fictitious ideas. Then, I will show by which means Spinoza can justify the real existence of fictions and fictitious ideas in the human mind through our present knowledge of actually existing things, to conclude that fictitious ideas neither add anything to what we already know of things, nor do they increase the extent of the existing conceivable reality by demanding the existence of possible non-actualised entities. (shrink)
The article includes the French to English translation of a seminal article by Alexandre Koyré (“Le chien, constellation céleste, et le chien animal aboyant”, in Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, 55e Année, N° 1, Jan-Mar 1950, pp. 50-59), accompanied by an explanatory introduction. Koyré's French text provides an illuminating commentary of E1p17s, where Spinoza exposes at length his account of the relationship existing between God's intellect and the human intellect. The lack of an English translation of this article has (...) led to some misunderstanding within the English-speaking Spinoza scholarship. This publication aims to correct this lack and improve worldwide understanding of Spinoza’s philosophy. (shrink)
This article shows how the specific interaction and mutual dependence between language and curiosity accounts for the more general dialectic between reason and passion in Hobbes’ philosophy, providing the distinguishing trait of human beings and their behaviour.
Spinoza's philosophy radically changed the framework of Western thought in the seventeenth century and deeply influenced its further development. Drawing on different traditions of thought, he created a system of philosophy which challenged the views of his contemporary readers in almost every domain. From his metaphysics to his epistemology, from his account of morals to his political theory, from his method of interpreting Scripture to the method of exposition that he employed in his main work - namely, the Ethics Demonstrated (...) in Geometrical Order (1677) - there is not a single aspect of Spinoza's philosophy which has not been thoroughly examined and discussed. Yet, Spinoza's theses and arguments continue to influence philosophical debates. Spinoza's substance monism, his identification of God with nature, his strict necessitarianism, his unique account of the mind-body relationship and of human affects, and his passionate defense of religious freedom and freedom of thought are still a source of inspiration for many thinkers and the focus of several studies, not necessarily related to the limited domain of the history of philosophy. (shrink)
Spinoza attributes mentality to all things existing in nature. He claims that each thing has a mind that perceives everything that happens in the body. Against this panpsychist background, it is unclear how consciousness relates to the nature of the mind. This study focuses on Spinoza’s account of the conscious mind and its operations. It builds on the hypothesis that Spinoza’s panpsychism can be interpreted as a self-consistent philosophical position. It aims at providing answers to the following questions: what is (...) consciousness, for Spinoza, and what are the causes that determine its presence in nature? How can human and non-human individuals be distinguished on account of their mentality? How can Spinoza conceive of the human mind as consisting entirely of conscious perceptions? And how, according to Spinoza’s mind-body parallelism, is the content of consciousness determined so that it reflects in thought the order and connection of the actions and passions of the body? To address these questions, I first determine what Spinoza’s notion of “consciousness” is and how he uses it. Then, I investigate whether he has a theory of recognition capable of accounting for specifically human behaviour and mentality. Further, I examine his description of memory and the way in which memory shapes the framework of human conscious thought. Finally, I look for an account of discursive reasoning, capable of explaining the existence of activities of the mind that, by operating on the content provided by memory, preserve themselves through time and change. (shrink)