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Idealistic Studies


published on April 11, 2019

Sean Winkler

Parallelism and the Idea of God in Spinoza's System

In this paper, I begin by showing that for Spinoza, it is unclear how the human mind can have a true idea of God. I first provide an explanation of Spinoza’s theory of parallelism of the mind and the body, followed by showing how this doctrine seems to undermine the mind’s ability to have an adequate idea of God. From there, I show that the idea of God presents a problem for Spinoza’s theory of the parallelism of the attributes in general. To resolve the tension, I argue that Spinoza’s theory of parallelism does not entail a one-to-one correspondence between the modes of different attributes. From here, I show that the human mind can have an adequate idea of God, because the mind can have an idea of its own formal essences and the idea of a formal essence is itself an idea of God.

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