Volume 33, Issue 2/3, Summer/Fall 2003
Spinoza, the First Anti-Cartesian
Despite their apparent proximity, Spinoza and Descartes are crucially separated on the most important issues. This paper analyzes Spinoza's major anti-Cartesian positions under four headings: the nature of being; the universe and its laws; the human being; and the method and tasks of philosophy. Issues in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, the philosophical endeavor etc. are analyzed both in themselves and in their implications for the wider culture and the individual's sense of life. The analysis also brings out (as a target of Spinoza's critique) some of the theology implicit in Descartes' doctrines of substance, the will, the mind, the natural light, and the ethical way.