While Spinoza gives us the means to answer these questions, he would respond that this is the wrong way to approach his philosophy of mind. To start with the human mind is to try to understand a thing without understanding its causes, a strategy that leads to error. Starting with the human mind, as Descartes does, leads us to believe that it is an independent thing that perceives and thinks for itself. We assume that the mind directs its consciousness at objects that it represents in its ideas, and we assume that by virtue of its capacity to freely represent them, the mind transcends its objects. Spinoza explains that such assumptions are natural: we are self-reflexive thinking beings who take our own minds to be the free, independent, and sovereign owners of their contents. He aims to show that these assumptions are misguided, and to set out the true causal explanation for the human mind’s powers and limitations.
|Title of host publication||Philosophy of Mind in the Early Modern and Modern Ages|
|Number of pages||21|
|ISBN (Print)||1138925357, 978-1138925359|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
|Name||The History of the Philosophy of Mind|
Lord, B. (2018). Spinoza on thinking substance and the non-substantial mind. In R. Copenhaver (Ed.), Philosophy of Mind in the Early Modern and Modern Ages [Chapter 8] (The History of the Philosophy of Mind; Vol. 4). Routledge.