“ ’Scientia Intuitiva’: Spinoza’s Third Kind of Cognition”

In Johannes Haag (ed.), Übergänge - diskursiv oder intuitiv? Essays zu Eckart Förster die 25 Jahre der Philosophie. Klostermann. pp. 99-116 (2013)
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I am not going to solve in this paper the plethora of problems and riddles surrounding Spinoza’s scientia intuitiva, but I do hope to break some new ground and help make this key doctrine more readily understandable. I will proceed in the following order (keep in mind the word ‘proceed’). I will first provide a close preliminary analysis of the content and development of Spinoza’s discussion of scientia intuitiva in the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and the Ethics. In the second part, I will address two closely related questions which have drawn the attention of many readers: (i) Is scientia intuitiva a cognition that is inferential? and (ii) Is scientia intuitiva a kind of cognition that is closely tied to causation? To the surprise of many, I will argue that Spinoza’s intuitive knowledge is both inferential and causal (in a certain rigid sense of ‘inferential’ and ‘causal’ to be explained below). In the third and final part, I will explain Spinoza’s preference for scientia intuitiva and his frequent use of mathematical examples, and then attempt to map the major remaining questions and problems surrounding the doctrine.
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