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Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination$
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Eugene Garver

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226575568

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226575735.001.0001

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Our Knowledge of God and Its Place in Ethics

Our Knowledge of God and Its Place in Ethics

(p.51) Chapter 2 Our Knowledge of God and Its Place in Ethics
Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination

Eugene Garver

University of Chicago Press

Rather than ease the difficulty of seeing how adequate ideas can exist within a finite mind, Spinoza compounds the problem by asserting that the mind—whether all minds, all human minds, or only some people—have an adequate idea of the hardest reality to grasp, namely God’s nature. This idea is uniquely difficult because it is the only idea that must be understood without aid of the imagination. The geometric method is the paradigm of the cooperation of imagination and reason: the idea of God is the only adequate idea that cannot be known through this cooperation, but through reason alone, Left unanswered, and setting the problem for the rest of the Ethics, is the question, how, if at all, this idea is affected by being part of a finite mind, and how that finite mind is affected by the presence of the adequate idea of God within it. How can the adequate idea of God’s nature develop from being an alien presence to dominating and unifying the mind?

Keywords:   God, adequate ideas, three kinds of knowledge, geometric method

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