Uitgebreid interview met Don J Garrett over Hume en Spinoza

Richard Marshall bracht op 19 augustus 2016 op 3:AM Magazine (motto: "whatever it is, we're against it.") een uitgebreid interview met de filosoof Don J Garrett, getiteld:  "Having Cake and Eating it With Hume and Spinoza" [cf.] Het grootste deel gaat over David Hume, want met hem heeft Don Garrett zich het meest bezig gehouden; zie hier de intro:

Don J Garrett works primarily in early modern philosophy, with special interests in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. He has served as co-editor of Hume Studies and as North American editor of Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and was Carnegie Centenary Professor at the University of Edinburgh in 2011. Here he discusses Hume’s notion of ‘reason’, reason’s normativity, doubts, contradictions and imperfections, lessons for contemporary epistemologists, what methodological feminism brings to Humean reason, Hume and causation, whether Hume would have been a Kantian if he’d done more maths, the bundle theory and personal identity. Then he discusses Spinoza and the possibility of error, what Spinoza might have said to the German idealists, whether Spinoza is a Hobbesian, and what makes Spinoza and Hume the greatest naturalist philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Don J. Garrett was editor van The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza (1995) en droeg bij aan diverse verzamelbundels (cf. Duitse Spinozabibliografie).
Hierna neem ik het deel dat over Spinoza gaat over:

3:AM: Another of the early moderns you’ve written about is Spinoza: and one of the questions you raise about him is whether he’s in error about the possibility of error. So is he, and what’s at stake here?

DG: In the Ethics, Spinoza states that each human mind is both “the idea of” and “one and the same thing as” the human body that is its objectum. ‘Objectum’ is of course naturally translated as “object.” He also states that “a true idea agrees with its ideatum,” and ‘ideatum’ is usually also translated as “object.” But as Jonathan Bennett was perhaps the first to remark, if every idea is identical with its object, then it seems that it cannot fail to agree with it, and so every idea will be true. Yet Spinoza insists that one of his main purposes in writing is to help readers overcome error. As a result, it seems that Spinoza must be in error about the very possibility of error. So it is the coherence of his entire epistemology that is at stake.

To resolve this puzzle, we need to distinguish in Spinoza between a mind’s having an objectum and a mind’s (or other idea’s) agreeing with its ideatum. A human mind’s objectum is simply the body of which it constitutes an immediate but cognitively inadequate awareness, although this awareness has some cognitively adequate intellectual elements. This mind and this body are the very same thing in two different manners of existence (attributes), thought and extension respectively. Through this awareness of its body, Spinoza explains, the mind is also able to represent to itself the external causes of the states of that body (again inadequately, but with some adequate intellectual elements). For a mind or other idea to agree with its ideatum, in contrast, is for it to represent adequately everything that it is of or about, including represented entities that may be external to its objectum. No finite mind as a whole agrees entirely with its ideatum, but it will have some intellectual ideas that do agree with their ideata and are therefore true. It is the inadequacy of cognition that makes confusion, falsity, and error possible.

3:AM: Spinoza was followed by the great German Idealists and you tell us that they were all keen to say that either their new system is right or else Spinozism is. You construct a hypothetical dialogue between Spinoza and these idealists. Can you sketch for us the kinds of things Spinoza might have said in response to them?

DG: Leibniz, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling each thought that they were in some sense providing the only genuine alternative to Spinozism, which they considered to be highly objectionable. I imagine Spinoza replying, “You are each right about the disjunction: either your philosophy is true or mine is. I note that your philosophies are not compatible with each either. I leave you to draw the inference.” Because their philosophies are different, his dialogues with each would be somewhat different as well. But a common theme would be that what they identify as the objectionable features of Spinozism are either not really features of Spinozism or not really objectionable. Examples of the former kind would include denying the reality of the natural world (which Hegel called “acosmism”) or failing to allow for self-consciousness. Examples of latter kind would include substance monism, necessitarianism, and the co-equal reality of extension and thought as manners of existence that each thing has.

3:AM: Is Spinoza a contractarian Hobbesian in regards to the foundations of the state?

DG: Spinoza agrees with Hobbes that each thing has as much right as it has power. For both, this is a naturalistic approach to right that makes a scientific political science possible. Furthermore, they agree that human beings are much better able to satisfy their striving to preserve themselves as part of a political state than as individuals in a state of nature, and that the existence of a political state requires a contract among individuals in which they convey their power and hence right to a sovereign. Hobbes regards this contract as, by its very nature, conveying almost all of the subjects’ rights, reserving chiefly a right of immediate self-defense. For his part, Spinoza does not recognize any purely conceptual limitations to the political contract at all, but instead emphasizes that human psychology places quite serious limits on the extent to which human beings do or can ever actually convey their power, with the result that the state must constantly take care to retain such power and right as it actually has. This is best done, on Spinoza’s view, by a democracy that allows freedom of thought and religion, whereas Hobbes recommended an absolute monarchy in which the sovereign exercises control of both. Each, of course, was responding to the conditions and recent political history of his own country. But whereas Hobbes denied that human life had any summum bonum (highest good), Spinoza located the summum bonum in understanding.

3:AM: Morality, virtue, God and religion are other huge themes treated by Hume and Spinoza in what I guess might be called a naturalistic way. Is that a useful way of characterising one of their important legacies, the idea that they inaugurated an approach to these subjects – and in fact to all philosophical thinking – that didn’t require commitment to supernatural entities and enabled taking a scientific methodology to these subjects?

DG: Yes. I understand naturalism in the broad sense as the attempt to explain things without appeal to supernatural, or universal entities; to non-law-governed events or influences such as miracles or libertarian free will; or to explanatorily basic normative or intentional qualities. By this standard, Spinoza and Hume are the greatest and most influential naturalists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, respectively. It is this, I have come to realize, that keeps bringing me back to their work.

Volgen aanbevelingen van Garrett voor vijf boeken.