Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spinoza, Leibniz and Descartes

I'm not sure BUT I think I MIGHT understand the quote now.  Descartes and Leibniz both thought of God as a doer.   Spinoza thought of God as the substance with no goal in mind.  BUT still all three were Platonic in tone because they first conceived of the big picture and then deduced the relevance of their principles.

What do you think?  Am I close?

Here is the quote from Goldstein's book that I'm trying to understand:

"I have long thought that the distinctly Platonic tone of Spinoza's philosophy, which consists not so much in his picture of reality but in the ecstatic impulse that irradiates it and that sharply distinguishes his rationalism from both Descartes' and Leibniz's, came by way of the kabalistic influences."

Do I need to understand the difference between Aristotle and Plato to understand the quote? Do I need to understand the difference between the three rationalists (Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza) to understand the quote?  I looked to wikipedia to help me get a grasp.

Here are some excerpts from wiki:
Plato believed that deduction would simply follow from premises, hence he focused on maintaining solid premises so that the conclusion would logically follow.

"Platonism" is a term coined by scholars to refer to the intellectual consequences of denying the reality of the material world. Inspiration does give us access to higher insights about reality. Plato does not believe that every person is capable of this inspiration. The Theory of Forms typically refers to the belief  that the material world as it seems to us is not the real world, but only an image or copy of the real world.  If one derives one's account of something experientially, because the world of sense is in flux, the views therein attained will be mere opinions. And opinions are characterized by a lack of necessity and stability

quotes from wiki:
Aristotle's  method implies the ascent from the study of particular phenomena to the knowledge of essences. Since he was perhaps the philosopher most respected by European thinkers during and after the Renaissance, these thinkers often took Aristotle's erroneous positions as given, which held back science in this epoch. However, Aristotle's scientific shortcomings should not mislead one into forgetting his great advances in the many scientific fields. For instance, he founded logic as a formal science and created foundations to biology. Moreover, he introduced the fundamental notion that nature is composed of things that change and that studying such changes can provide useful knowledge of underlying constants. Aristotle's method is both inductive and deductive while Plato's is essentially deductive from a priori principles. Plato argued that there are some universal forms that are not a part of particular things. For example, it is possible that there is no particular good in existence, but "good" is still a proper universal form. Bertrand Russell is a contemporary philosopher that agreed with Plato on the existence of "uninstantiated universals".   According to Aristotle, if a universal exists, either as a particular or a relation, then there must have been, must be currently, or must be in the future, something on which the universal can be predicated. Consequently, according to Aristotle, if it is not the case that some universal can be predicated to an object that exists at some period of time, then it does not exist. In addition, Aristotle disagreed with Plato about the location of universals. As Plato spoke of the world of the forms, a location where all universal forms subsist, Aristotle maintained that universals exist within each thing on which each universal is predicated. So, according to Aristotle, the form of apple exists within each apple, rather than in the world of the forms.

Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like St. Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the Schools on two major points: First, he rejects the analysis of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to ends—divine or natural—in explaining natural phenomena.[3] In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God’s act of creation. Descartes was a major figure in 17th-century continental rationalism, later advocated by Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, and opposed by the empiricist school of thought consisting of Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Hume. Leibniz, Spinoza and Descartes were all well versed in mathematics as well as philosophy, and Descartes and Leibniz contributed greatly to science as well. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes founded analytic geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. He is best known for the philosophical statement "Cogito ergo sum" (English: I think, therefore I am; or I am thinking, therefore I exist). Descartes attempts to arrive at a fundamental set of principles that one can know as true without any doubt. To achieve this, he employs a method called hyperbolical/metaphysical doubt, also sometimes referred to as methodological skepticism : he rejects any ideas that can be doubted, and then reestablishes them in order to acquire a firm foundation for genuine knowledge. Descartes suggested that the body works like a machine that it has the material properties of extension and motion, and that it follows the laws of physics. The mind (or soul), on the other hand, was described as a nonmaterial entity that lacks extension and motion, and does not follow the laws of physics. Descartes argued that only humans have minds. This form of duality proposes that the mind controls the body, but that the body can also influence the otherwise rational mind, such as when people act out of passion. Most of the previous accounts of the relationship between mind and body had been uni-directional.
 Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th Century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz also anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or a priori definitions rather than to empirical evidence.Between 1695 and 1705, he composed his New Essays on Human Understanding, a lengthy commentary on John Locke's 1690 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,

A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature.
Teleology was explored by Plato and Aristotle. A thing, process or action is teleological when it is for the sake of an end, i.e., a telos or final cause. In general it may be said that there are two types of final causes, which may be called intrinsic finality and extrinsic finality.[citation needed] A thing or action has an extrinsic finality when it is for the sake of something external to itself. For example, Aristotle argued that animals are for the sake of man, a thing external to them.[1][2] Humans also exhibit extrinsic finality when they seek something external to themselves (e.g., the happiness of a child). If the external thing had not existed that action would not display finality. A thing or action has an intrinsic finality when it is not for the sake of something external to itself. For example, one might try to be happy simply for the sake of being happy, and not for the sake of anything outside of that.

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