Spinoza on Mind, Body, and Numerical Identity

In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind Vol. 2. Oxford: OUP. pp. 293-336 (2022)
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Spinoza claims that a person’s mind and body are one and the same. But he also claims that minds think and do not move, whereas bodies move and do not think. How can we reconcile these claims? I believe that Spinoza is building on a traditional view about identity over time. According to this view, identity over time is linked to essence, so that a thing that is now resting is identical to a thing that was previously moving, provided that they share the same essence. I believe that Spinoza has a similar view about the identity of minds and bodies. In particular, a thing that is thinking in the attribute of thought is identical to a thing that is moving in the attribute of extension, provided that they share the same essence.

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John Morrison
Barnard College


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