René Descartes And Baruch Spinoza Analysis

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Within modernity, there are many thinkers who have questioned the nature of substance: two among them that will be examined in closer detail are René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza. Though both extensively and logically lay out how they came to their conclusions, one argument is substantially more convincing than the other. Descartes’ mind-body distinction, as described in Meditations, is founded upon less than perfect premises—whereas Spinoza’s monism, as fleshed out in his Ethics, is placed upon sturdier footing. Three concerns with the ideas of Descartes will be compared with the philosophy of Spinoza: issues with Descartes argument because of ramifications in the argument for God, the mind-body problem as being one without a solution, and…show more content…
Furthermore, Spinoza’s monism will not be put forward as the perfect solution, but rather as presenting a more ‘clear and distinct’ solution, to borrow a Cartesian phrase, to many of the problems presented in modern philosophy. It is not the ‘lesser of two evils’ by any means, but rather a stronger and more considerable way of looking at the question of substance. Renee Descartes, in his Meditations, presents the mind as being separate from the body, positing that “now my first observation here is that there is a great difference between a mind and a body, in that a body, by its very nature, is always divisible” (67). In this passage, Descartes has not only stated that mind and body are greatly different, but also that body has divisibility (which is an imperfection). There are substances of mind and substances of extension, but since extended things manifest themselves in the physical world, there are imperfections. God, notably is without imperfection. Thus, meaning that though the corporeal world may depend on God, the corporeal world is not God, for if God were corporeal then he would have imperfection. Furthermore, God cannot be…show more content…
There are other aspects to their ontologies which could be discussed further, but these three problems found in the philosophy of Descartes which are either ameliorated or solved entirely in the philosophy of Spinoza are worth studying. In looking at the movement from one to the next, we might be able to piece together how opinions shift as new problems arise in philosophy and new solutions are allotted or at least held in place until some new issue comes up. It is important to compare philosophers such as Descartes and Spinoza to map how philosophy moved throughout modernity and how it has become what it is

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