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The Explainability of ExperienceRealism and Subjectivity in Spinoza's Theory of the Human Mind$
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Ursula Renz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199350162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199350162.001.0001

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The Problem of the Numerical Difference between Subjects

The Problem of the Numerical Difference between Subjects

(p.123) 8 The Problem of the Numerical Difference between Subjects
The Explainability of Experience

Ursula Renz

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Spinoza’s views on the numerical difference between finite minds. It shows, first, that this problem only arises because Spinoza addresses the issue of the reality of the mental independently of the issue of the ascription of mental content to particular subjects. Consequently, it is only after 2p7 that he develops the notion of individual minds; yet he does so before addressing the issue of physical individuation. This distinction between themes in Spinoza is reminiscent of the strategy of those contemporary approaches that assume compatibility between the notion of first-person authority and semantic externalism. But why is it important for Spinoza to be able to account for the numerical difference between subjects? Were it not possible to draw distinctions between finite minds, one of the most crucial tenets of Spinoza’s political philosophy—the view that one’s judgment cannot be delegated to the state—would be undermined.

Keywords:   numerical difference, finite mind, subject, first-person authority, semantic externalism, Donald Davidson, Tyler Burge, Hegel

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