SPINOZA’S METAPHYSICS FROM THE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
Creator
  • Driggers, Robert
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
Abstract
  • In this dissertation, I argue that Spinoza intended his metaphysics to be understood from the “human perspective.” On my interpretation, Spinoza’s theory about the fundamental nature of reality—his theory of God’s attributes—is intended to render reality wholly intelligible to human beings. This interpretation contrasts sharply with the vast majority of interpretations of Spinoza’s metaphysics. According to most readers, Spinoza took God to have humanly uncognizable attributes, or, aspects of reality that humans cannot cognize. This commitment threatens the coherence of Spinoza’s philosophy. First, I argue that my Human Perspective Interpretation is licensed by Spinoza’s text—most interpreters take his text to mandate a God’s Perspective Interpretation on which there are humanly uncognizable aspects of reality. I argue that an exhaustive textual analysis reveals that there is no such mandate. Second, I argue that Spinoza’s theory of God’s attributes is a theory about the different ways we conceive God and not a theory about God’s intrinsic nature. The attributes, in other words, are only conceptually distinct from God. Finally, I argue that we ought to prefer the Human Perspective Interpretation because God’s Perspective Interpretations commit Spinoza to the view that he could not understand his own metaphysics. Ultimately, if Spinoza’ project of assisting humans in attaining contentment of mind and virtue is to be successful, his work must be understood from the human perspective.
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Advisor
  • Leunissen, Mariska
  • Hofweber, Thomas
  • Reeve, C.D.C.
  • Janiak, Andrew
  • Nelson, Alan Jean
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
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