'An Activity Whereby the Mind Regards Itself': Spinoza on Consciousness

Michaela Petrufová Joppová


Baruch Spinoza’s philosophy of mind stirs up the disputes about the nature of body-mind relations with its rigorous and naturalistic monism. The unity of body and mind is consequential of his metaphysics of the substance, but the concept of the unity of the mind and its idea rightfully confuses Spinoza’s commentators. Many have been tempted to interpret this as a possible account of consciousness, but it still has not yet been fully understood. This paper attempts to introduce an interpretation of the concept of ideas of ideas with regards to consciousness based on strict ontological monism, conceptual dualism, and self-similarity architecture, which concludes in distinguishing mental and psychic reality. While we might attribute mental reality, or mentality, to every extended thing, psychic reality is constituted by conscious ideas. And it seems to follow from Spinoza’s theory that the more ‘psychic’ the mind is, the more it knows God.


Baruch Spinoza; body-mind problem; consciousness; philosophy of mind; psychic reality


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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097