Rationalism Descartes Spinoza Leibnitz



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Rationalism

  1. Descartes

  2. Spinoza

  3. Leibnitz

  4. Kant

Descartes (1596-1650)

  1. Obsessed with questions of truth and doubt

  2. How could one be certain in the absence of religious guidance and trustworthy senses

  3. Typical rationalist program of finding clarity in thought

  4. Find clear first principles that could act as a bedrock or foundation for thought

  5. Could doubt everything except his own existence

  6. Cogito ergo sum
  7. Even the act of doubting presupposes a thinking entity
  8. From such a clear first principle one could deduce all the rest – deductive reason was seen to be largely infallible.

Descartes’s dualism

  1. Introduced dualism into modern philosophy and psychology

  2. He was certainly not the first to see a sharp distinction between mind and body

  3. Aristotle

  4. And all the Christian, Medieval thinkers.

Medieval dualism

  1. Dualism between that which perishes and that which survives death

  2. Based on Aristotle’s division into three parts

  3. vegetative

  4. sensitive

  5. rational

  6. The first two were vital forces that allow for movement and evidence of life

  7. Only active to the extent that they were directed by the intellect or rational soul.

  8. The body is a husk that gave evidence of life only when animated by a soul

Descartes’s distinction

  1. Descartes made a sharper distinction between components

  2. Assigned the vital forces solely to the body with the rational soul entirely separate

  3. Body is extended whereas the mind is not, “unextended substance”

  4. And the body obeys mechanical laws because it is a part of the mechanical universe, whereas the mind does not

Cartesian Problems

  1. Some claim this is a false distinction and has caused mischief

  2. Issues

  3. Camouflaged in the wooly Medieval conception

  4. How do the mind and body interact?

  5. How can something without mass and weight, something that is unobservable, influence something that has mass?

Descartes’s Solution – Interactionism

  1. The mind and body interact at the pineal gland which takes care of all the translation work

  2. Mind influences body through the agency of will

  3. Not novel

  4. But clearer in Descartes

  5. Influence of the body on the mind is more complex.

  6. The body is subject to passions created by sensation

  7. These passions affect the mind

  8. When all goes well, passions induce will to control the body, but they can also interfere with clear thought.

Descartes’s Theory of Mind Also Influential

  1. Distrusted sensory data which are too unreliable to produce clear truths.

  2. Assumed that we have innate ideas

  3. Ideas are literally innate

  4. We have the capacity to form certain ideas.

  5. Intellectual faculties such as memory, intuition, and will.

  6. Had enormous influence

  7. Led to much second and third rate philosophy

  8. Retarded French thought

Spinoza (1632-1677)

  1. Middle class Jewish family in Amsterdam

  2. Cherem (excommunication) for radical views

  3. Seemed happy to leave religion behind

  4. Cartesian and Stoic influences

  5. Lay outside the mainstream of Continental thought

  6. “Rediscovered” toward the end of the last century

  7. Partially because he was Jewish and thus had a different kind of background

  8. And partially because he was geographically isolated

Spinoza’s Solution to Mind-Body

  1. Parallelism

  2. God and his creations are not separable

  3. Therefore there can be no radical separation between mind and body

  4. They are really two sides to the same coin – different language systems in contemporary thought

  5. One important implication in terms of causality

  6. The body is part of the physical world that obeys immutable laws

  7. Mind (other side of the coin) must also be determined

  8. Our mental lives are fully determined.

Theory of Emotion & Passion

  1. Largely influenced by the Stoics

  2. Emotions vs. passions

  3. Emotions were directed at clear objects

  4. Passions merely generalized disruptions

  5. Those we share with God are perfect and are emotions

  6. Those that are not are imperfect and disruptive

  7. Emotions are agents of the intellect

  8. Help to channel thought

  9. Commit us to reasoned action

  10. Whereas the passions will disrupt

Truth and Emotion

  1. Truth known most clearly when accompanied by emotion

  2. We grasp truth as a kind of intuition

  3. Our searching for ultimate truth will be guided by emotion

  4. And we will experience pleasure when we get there

Spinoza’s Influence

  1. Very little immediate

  2. Rediscovered in 19th

  3. Now seen as forerunner of emotion/motivation

Leibniz (1646-1716)

  1. Well educated

  2. Also traveled widely

  3. The usual non-academic jobs

  4. For last 30 years studied science and most everything else

  5. Important views of science, religion, and politics

  6. Co-inventor of calculus

Contemporary of Locke

  1. Much of his philosophy is an attempt to refute him

  2. “Nothing is in the intellect which is not first in the senses”

  3. To which he replied: Nothing except the intellect itself

Leibnitz’s Dualism and Monadology

  1. Being consists of monads

  2. Basically ideal points of psychic energy

  3. However, when concentrated in one place they take on extension and give the impression of body

  4. Mind and body obey different laws

  5. Adjusted by God to show perfect agreement

  6. Pre-established harmony

  7. Thus a parallelism account of dualism

His theory of consciousness

  1. Each monad has mental activity

  2. However, the mental activity of an individual monad is so small that it is not conscious

  3. Distinction between mental activity and consciousness – first to do so

  4. And first real idea of unconscious

  5. Consciousness results when monads are combined

  6. Consciousness exists on a continuum

  7. A threshold as to what is conscious

  8. Early psychological research issue

Mind forms thoughts

  1. Conscious mental thought is not merely a result of sensation

  2. It must be guided by higher mental structures through a process he called apperception

  3. A kind of cognitive schema that guided thought.

  4. A modern version of Platonic Forms or Aristotlean categories.

Leibnitz’s Influence

  1. Great influence on the development of psychology in the 19th century.

  2. .Psychophysics and thresholds of consciousness

  3. Apperception and schematic thinking – Wundt

  4. Conflict between ideas – Freud and others

  5. Greater immediate influence than Kant, the greater thinker

Kant (1724-1804)

  1. Academic life at Königsburg

  2. Boring life

  3. Great importance for all aspects of philosophy

  4. Epistemology

  5. Aesthetics

  6. Moral

  7. Psychological importance more indirect

The Major Rationalist Response to Hume

  1. Bothered by Hume’s skepticism for religion and morality

  2. If nothing could be known with certainty then theology and morality were on shaky grounds

  3. So there must be a way of finding certainty

  4. Importance of sense data

  5. Did not deny the importance

  6. Did deny that they were sufficient

  7. Empiricists would say we know because we perceive, but the rationalists would say that we perceive because we know.

  8. Top down vs. bottom up processing

Kant’s Analytic vs Synthetic Propositions

  1. An old distinction

  2. Analytic propositions are those that are true more or less by definition

  3. Linguistic in nature

  4. Predicate is logically implied by the subject

  5. .Bodies have extension

  6. .Bachelors are unmarried males

  7. Synthetic -- the predicate bears only a contingent relationship to the subject

  8. Not obviously but probalistically true

  9. Empirical

  10. Can be assessed only a posteriori

Can Synthetic Propositions Have A Priori Validity?

  1. Critique of Pure Reason (1781)

  2. Even the building blocks of Hume’s analysis of causality are not given in experience

  3. Requires that we understand there are actually two objects which requires a notion of extended space

  4. And that one follows the other, which requires time

  5. One must have implicit categories of space and time

  6. Categories must be innate because logically they must precede all experience.

Kantian Categories

  1. There are 12 categories of thought --

  2. Negation

  3. Plurality

  4. Causality

  5. Necessary for any thought

Kant’s Moral Theory

  1. Similar arguments for morality

  2. Certain moral truths are self-evident

  3. And logically necessary

  4. The famous categorical imperative: “Act in such a way that the maxim of your action could serve as a universal law of nature”

Positive Influences on Psychology

  1. A sensible rationalism that takes account of experience

  2. Most sophisticated version of how mind shapes experiences

  3. Notion of categories indirectly influential

  4. Implied nativism

Negative Influences on History of Psychology

  1. Could be no science of psychology

  2. Mental processes were fleeting and are of but not in the mind.

  3. Mental processes could not be measured,

  4. This served as a challenge for subsequent thinkers

  5. Herbart and measurement

  6. Fechner and psychophysics




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