chapter  3
48 Pages

The Human Mind

Spinoza’s philosophy of mind is, in many ways, the richest and most challenging part of his metaphysical system. Here, perhaps, more than anywhere else, Spinoza is ahead of his time: anticipating mind-body identity views that were to become much more popular only much later, anticipating the notion of a science of the psychological, every bit as strict as any science of the physical, and anticipating the representational theory of the human mind that grounds all the mind’s properties in its ability to have thoughts about things. All of these positions are much more prominent now than in Spinoza’s day, but are still extremely controversial. We will find Spinoza’s philosophy of mind brimming with insights that are only now beginning to be understood. In part for this reason, much of Spinoza’s philosophy of mind will also seem exotic and poorly motivated. While the appearance of exoticness cannot and should not be dispelled, the appearance of poor motivation can and should be. Here again our chief tool in casting away the obscurity is Spinoza’s PSR in its twofold use, and here again the contrast with Descartes’s treatment of these issues will be extremely useful.