Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza

Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza

Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza

Representation and the Mind-Body Problem in Spinoza

Synopsis

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. Della Rocca 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, Della Rocca's exploration of these two problems provides a new and illuminating perspective on Spinoza's philosophy as a system.

Excerpt

I have found Spinoza's philosophy of mind to be a fascinating and rewarding subject of philosophical inquiry. That you come to share this belief or come to hold it more strongly is the goal of this book.

As the title indicates, I will concentrate on two problems crucial to Spinoza's philosophy of mind. The first problem concerns the requirements for having a thought about a particular object, and the second is the traditional problem of whether or not the mind is identical with the body. A central contention of this work is that Spinoza's positions on these matters are systematically connected with one another and with a principle that lies at the heart of his metaphysical system: his denial of causal or explanatory or conceptual relations between the mental and the physical. One major reason, then, for my focus on the two problems mentioned in the title is that they provide us with a new and illuminating perspective from which to see Spinoza's philosophy as a system.

This analysis shows that Spinoza's views on these matters have been mischaracterized and unfairly criticized and that the kind of support Spinoza offers for them has often escaped the notice of commentators. By remedying these defects, I will be in a position to show that much of what Spinoza has to say in these areas of the philosophy of mind can be of significance to those who approach the same issues from a contemporary perspective. This is another key reason for my focus on these aspects of Spinoza's philosophy of mind.

Besides the deep role that Spinoza's denial of psychophysical causal or explanatory relations plays in his philosophy of mind, there is another theme that guides my discussion of Spinoza's views on both representation and the mind-body problem. This is the theme of relativity. Spinoza believes that a particular (token) idea or mental state can be in more than one mind simultaneously. For good reason, I will claim, Spinoza holds that, given this view, the content of the idea is different relative to these different minds; the content has a certain character relative to one mind and a different character relative to another. I call this the mind-relativity of content. However, for Spinoza, relativity infects not only the content of ideas, but also the more . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.