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Spinoza And The Theory Of Identity (2P1–13)

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Chapter Summary

The recent history of the mind-body problem appears as the history of a philosophical encounter with Descartes. Spinoza seems to play only a subordinate role. Spinoza's key metaphysical presuppositions and background assumptions all diverge radically from those of contemporary theorists. Given these deep-seated differences, any reference to Spinoza in the mind-body debate seems highly problematic. In direct agreement with the substance monism defended in the first part of the Ethics, Spinoza asserts the identity of mind and body. A more detailed reading of Spinoza's work makes it clear that there is an underlying resemblance to contemporary approaches. This chapter briefly sketches the relevant statements present in Ethics. It considers the central claims of theory of mind as it is developed at the beginning of the second part of the Ethics. Finally, it discusses the systematic and reception-historical relations between Spinoza's approach and contemporary theories in the philosophy of mind.

Keywords: Descartes; Ethics; mind-body problem; Spinoza; substance monism; theory of identity; theory of mind



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