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Descartes vs Spinoza Comparison - Essay Example

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Descartes vs Spinoza Comparison

Descartes states that the human being is made up of a body and a soul that are two distinct parts and relate to God and the world in different ways (2). On the other hand, Spinoza teaches that there is only one God. Spinoza identified that God could be defined by his existence or conceivability (1). This means that God exists but He has no form and human beings can only conceive Him in the natural environment. Thus human mind can only work to explain the existence of God who was inseparable from nature. Descartes' treatise suggests that the soul is separate from the body since they are supposed to perish separately (8). Descartes buttresses his point that the body is ruled by the mind. He stated that the mind is independent and separate from the body (18). It implies that the human mind is susceptible to illusions which could be true or false (Descartes 19). Descartes therefore states that there are uncertainties and limitations of the human thought (19). He asks a rhethorical question about whether the existence of God is a figment of our minds or not (19). This suggests that there is a possibility that there is no God (Descartes 24). He puts forward the possibility of an antithesis that human beings have the power to change everything around them (Descartes 24). Spinoza differs from Descartes and argues that things in nature had a finite existence but the infinite existence of God was the absolute affirmation (5). This therefore means that everything that exists in nature is just an extension of God whilst God Himself is an absolute and All-Powerful Creator. Spinoza identified two main forms of ignorance. He stated that the first form is the belief in idols like the worship of trees and other humans (5). He also saw the independence of divine knowledge from human knowledge that Descartes proposed as a form of ignorance (5). Descartes supports his assertion that the mind is capable of making independent decisions and people cannot imagine the corporeal. Thus the physical things around us exists independently of the human mind. He states that matter changes from solid to liquid and to gas using the example of wax which is put into fire. This illustration hints that human beings can use empirical studies to improve their lives (Descartes 31). This thinking supported science and the independent study of things in the natural environment. These were areas of knowledge that hitherto were often banned by the Catholic Church. Based on this teaching, everything in nature was to be studied differently based on how the mind perceives it. Each and every item is to be singled out and evaluated from a very individualistic point of view. This kind of independent examination of substances gave room for scientific methods and enquiries in science like chemistry and pharmacy. On the opposite side of the scale, Spinoza argued that nature and God are essentially the same. He stated that substances can be conceived externally but God could not be conceived by human beings. As such, human scholars could only act in an effort to understanding the way God operations. The definitions of the things are meant to provide a better understanding of how God operates. From Spinoza's point of view, science was a process that was meant to study what exists in nature as a method of understanding the Creator. In other words, nothing in the ...Show more


Your Name Your Lecturer's Name Your Course Date Comparison of the Philosophies of Descartes & Spinoza Descartes and Spinoza are two of the earliest philosophers who propounded theories at the end of the Medieval Ages. In the period between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance of Europe, there was a strong emphasis on the reliance on revelation and religion as opposed to the reliance on science and empiricism…
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