Essay about Similarities Between Descartes And Spinoza

799 Words Sep 14th, 2015 4 Pages
In this essay, I outline two similarities of Descartes and Spinoza—belief in apriori knowledge, and God as the infinite substance—as well as two differences—contrasting conceptions of God’s relation to the world, and mind-body relations.
Both Spinoza and Descartes subscribe to the rationalist epistemology which claims that knowledge must be self-evident and derived from reasoning, rather than experience. As such, both philosophers believe in apriori knowledge, in which true knowledge is derived prior to experiences as experiences can be deceiving. Descartes claims that knowledge drawn from sensory faculties are mere representations of the true thing, being “obscure and confused” due to our limited sensory faculties (Meditation VI). Only ideas originating from the mind are ‘clear and distinct’ (Meditation VI) for they are not hampered by imperfect sensory perceptions. This is seen in the wax argument (Meditation II), whereby the senses would not have understood the oneness of the melted and original wax, while the intellect is capable of doing so. Spinoza suggests that “knowledge of the first kind is the only source of falsity, knowledge of the second and third kinds is necessarily true” (Proposition XLI), hence, implying that opinion, passive knowledge in reaction to sensations are untrue, while knowledge known as reason, obtained via formal logic, and knowledge known as intuition are true.
Descartes and Spinoza both believe God exists as an infinite and perfect being,…

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