Knowledge Beyond Reason in Spinoza’s Epistemology: Scientia Intuitiva and Amor Dei Intellectualis in Spinoza’s Epistemology

Australasian Philosophical Review 4 (Revisiting Spinoza's Rationalism) (2020)
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Genevieve Lloyd’s Spinoza is quite a different thinker from the arch rationalist caricature of some undergraduate philosophy courses devoted to “The Continental Rationalists”. Lloyd’s Spinoza does not see reason as a complete source of knowledge, nor is deductive rational thought productive of the highest grade of knowledge. Instead, that honour goes to a third kind of knowledge—intuitive knowledge (scientia intuitiva), which provides an immediate, non-discursive knowledge of its singular object. To the embarrassment of some hard-nosed philosophers, intellectual intuition has an affective component; it is a form of love, and ultimately given that human beings are finite modes of God/Nature (Deus sive Natura), it is a form of the intellectual love of God (amor Dei intellectualis). Some philosophers do not know what to make of this mysterious aspect of Spinoza’s philosophy, which is nonetheless firmly anchored in a reading of Part V of the Ethics. Nonetheless, this note will insist with Lloyd’s “Reconsidering Spinoza’s Rationalism” that such doctrine is an integral part of Spinoza’s philosophy. Moreover, it will be shown that Spinoza is well aware of the limitations of reason (ratio) in gaining scientific knowledge of the world and requires intuition precisely because of the inability of reason to represent individuals in their full particularity. Imagination too has a role to play in shaping scientific knowledge, although reason performs a vital critical role in disciplining and liberating the human mind from inadequate imaginary ideas. The result is an interpretation of Spinoza’s epistemology as both rationalist and intuitionist. DOI: 10.1080/24740500.2021.1962652

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Anne Newstead
Swinburne University of Technology


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