Notes on spinoza s ethics

It is possible that Spinoza, as he made progress through his studies, was being groomed for a career as a rabbi. But he never made it into the upper levels of the curriculum, those which included advanced study of Talmud.

Notes on spinoza s ethics

A Critical Guide Published: November 20, Yitzhak Melamed ed. Rather than focusing on a particular theme, the volume provides balanced coverage of the standard topics metaphysics, knowledge, emotions, ethicswithout falling prey to the common tendency to focus on the first two parts of the Ethics.

Consequently, most Spinoza Notes on spinoza s ethics will find something in the volume to be essential reading; the same is likely true for many historians of early modern philosophy generally.

Spinoza's THE ETHICS - Part I:

Nevertheless, the essays are mostly the sort of thing that one expects from Anglophone, particularly North American Spinoza scholarship: With so many essays distributed across so many topics, it is necessary that I devote my attention selectively.

My choice of discussion topics is inevitably shaped by my own areas of expertise and my idiosyncratic interests. The reader should not take these choices as a comment on the quality of the other contributions.

Don Garrett deals with a basic and familiar problem in the Ethics: This appears to violate a principle that many of Spinoza's readers regard as obviously true, the indiscernibility of identicals: While others address the problem by explaining how Spinoza can avoid violating the principle, Garrett proposes that Spinoza rejects the indiscernibility of identicals, or, at least, that Spinoza only accepts the principle under certain conditions.

John Morrison also concludes that Spinoza rejects the indiscernibility of identicals. Morrison shows that this conclusion solves other problems, for instance, explaining how a mind can be identical to the idea of the mind, even though they represent different things: But Garrett goes even further: But what would motivate Spinoza to reject a principle that many readers have considered to be self-evident?

Notes on spinoza s ethics

Garrett cites two motives. The first is strong ontological pluralism, which Garrett takes to imply that there are different ways of being as thought and as extensionrather than merely different beings. If an individual can exist in different ways, then it must have different properties. Interestingly, Garrett sees this commitment as Spinoza's development of Descartes' view that formal and objective reality are two different modes of being.

The second motive is the adequate-ideas conception of truth, that is, the view that all and only adequate ideas are true. According to this view, truth is not merely a matter of correspondence between ideas and things, but also requires that ideas represent things completely, as adequate ideas do.

It follows that true ideas must understand things through their peculiar way of being: Consequently, we can never truly conceive of a body as thinking or of a mind as extended. Since the indiscernibility of identicals would imply precisely such a conclusion, the adequate ideas conception of truth provides reason to reject it.

It is interesting that Garrett's view opposes a fascinating contribution from Kristin Primus, though this difference is not discussed in the volume. Primus's piece takes up two difficult questions about scientia intuitiva, Spinoza's third kind of knowledge.

First, what is so special about intuitive knowledge that makes it superior to reason, as Spinoza frequently asserts? The second question receives far less fanfare in the piece, though it is every bit as important: One worry is that such knowledge would require knowing all of the infinite causes of particular things, which seems impossible.

Another worry is that it isn't clear how knowledge of God's very general essence leads to knowledge of a specific, particular essence. Primus's answer to the second question rests on an innovative reading of Spinoza's claim that the third kind of knowledge concerns "the essences of things.

Primus suggests reading this more plausibly, in my opinion as referring to the essences of things plural, that is, the essences of all these things generally, but not of the particular individuals: Read in this way, the third kind of knowledge is not particular and, consequently, there is no problem in explaining how such knowledge is attainable.

Philosophy : Notes on Spinoza's Ethics. (Book) []

It is worth noting that this solution stands independently of Primus's other, more controversial, claims. The controversial claims are connected to Primus's answer to the first question.

According to Primus, reason only provides us with knowledge of common or universal properties of things, which does not directly show us that these ideas agree with formally real, actually existing things.

To know this, one would have to use reasoning based on these universal properties to demonstrate that all of our adequate representations must be true. While reason can provide us with this knowledge, it requires additional steps; one does not see directly in the cognition of the things themselves that they exist as we represent them.

In contrast, intuitive knowledge sees the essences plural of things as following directly from God's essence. Consequently, intuitive knowledge is special because it recognizes directly and in a single perception that our adequate ideas are true.

This reading makes Spinoza's scientia look a lot like Descartes': But this reading is likely controversial. Firstly, contrary to Garrett, it supposes that adequate ideas of reason are not necessarily true or perhaps that we do not necessarily know that they are true, which one would have to reconcile with 2p43, where Spinoza claims that we necessarily know that our true ideas are true.

Alison Peterman shows that the so-called "physical digression" following 2p13 is neither physical nor a digression.Spinoza’s Ethics: Knowledge The human mind, as God, has ideas.

Spinoza engages in a detailed analysis of the composition of the human being, because its aim is to show how the human being is a part of nature, unlike those who think of man as an empire within an empire.

1Prop I.4 refers to the fourth proposition of Part I; Def II.4 is the fourth definition in Part II; Ax I.6 is the sixth axiom in Part I, and so on.

In some translations, the scholia are referred to as notes. Spring, PHI 17 th & 18 Century Philosophy Study Guide to help you review Spinoza’s Ethics1 Ethics, Part I Spinoza is concerned with the nature of existence or ‘being’: what.

introduction to spinoza's ethics " The noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers ", as Bertrand Russell called him, was born in Amsterdam in , of a family of Portuguese Marranos - Sephardic Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity by the Inquisition, but secretly kept their faith.

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Ethics Summary -