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Spinoza's Book of LifeFreedom and Redemption in the Ethics$
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Steven Smith

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300100198

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300100198.001.0001

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Thinking about Thinking

Thinking about Thinking

(p.62) 3 Thinking about Thinking
Spinoza's Book of Life

Steven B. Smith

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the transition from part one to part two of the Ethics, which marks an important change in the overall direction of Spinoza's work. In part one Spinoza dealt with the biblical theme of the unity and oneness of God. Part two is called “Of the Nature and Origin of the Mind.” Its terms are set mainly by the psychology of Descartes, especially the way in which human beings as a complex of mind and body can be said to have an identity or form an “I.” The framework of Cartesian psychology can be summarized in terms of Descartes's famous two-substance doctrine. Human beings are in the first instance bodies whose motions and interactions with other bodies form part of a general science of mechanics. However, humans are possessed not just of bodies but of an entire internal world of will, consciousness, and reason, which Descartes called by the classical designation of the soul.

Keywords:   biblical theme, oneness of God, Cartesian psychology, two-substance doctrine, bodies, soul

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