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Spinoza, Benedict (also Baruch) (1632–77)

don garrett


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Extract

Dutch philosopher. Spinoza's epistemology is both a response to his seventeenths-century context ( see rationalism ) and an integral part of his philosophy. His 1663 Descartes's ‘Principles of Philosophy ’, which is a reformulation of the first two parts of descartes ’ famous work into the axiomatized ‘geometrical order’ of presentation modelled on Euclid, manifests a deep understanding of Cartesian epistemology. Spinoza's own epistemology is presented primarily, though not exclusively, in Part II of his Ethics and in an earlier unfinished work, Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect , both of which were first published in the Opera postuma of 1677. Although he follows Descartes in emphasizing the distinction between intellect and imagination as representational faculties, his epistemology nevertheless differs from that of Descartes in a number of fundamental respects. One such difference – and one on which Spinoza particularly insists – lies in his rejection of Descartes’ account of error, according to which error is the result of the will's freely affirming ideas from which it has the power to withhold assent. On Spinoza's deterministic alternative, every idea naturally involves affirmation of its own content; an idea can and will be denied or doubted only when the mind also has another idea which contradicts the first or calls it into question ( Ethics 2 p. 49). ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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