Julie Klein (Villanova University) will speak on “Language, Reason,and Intellect in Spinoza” on Friday 10th March, 2 – 4pm (Note change of time).
Dreyfus Room, via 26 Russell Square, Birkbeck College, London WC1B 5DT. The Dreyfus Room is on the top floor of the adjacent building.
“In this paper, I review Spinoza’s critique of language to show that he thinks words are inadequate for, and may even render us unable to pursue, scientia intuitiva. Coming to terms with Spinoza’s division between language and intellection brings us face to face with a position that separates him from many recent thinkers: he does not take the linguistic turn. Spinoza’s critique of language also raises a difficult question for us as readers: If words are inapt for intellectual knowing, what is the point of a text like the Ethics? The TTP offers us three models of texts: Scripture, Euclid’s Elements, and “the true original text of Scripture,” which Spinoza identifies with the human mind. I argue that the text of the Ethics is not Spinoza’s “philosophy” but rather points us toward it. As linguistic and as rational, the Ethics offers cognitive training to strengthen the mind’s power of inference, but it does not present knowledge of the third kind. This, I argue, is the sense of Spinoza’s claim in Ethics 5p28 that a striving or desire for the third kind of knowing can arise from the second kind of knowing and not the first. In the final section of the paper, I explore the differences between the second and third kinds of knowing and focus on the break between the former and the latter. I argue, ultimately, that the third kind of knowing is distinguished by its immediacy, which radically exceeds both the first and second kinds of knowing.”