Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/73

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

popular and scholastic definition of truth as the agreement of thought with its object. But when he examines the problem more closely he concludes that the perfection of knowledge consists of complete elaboration and internal consistency. He always regards error as negative, as due to the limitation of our experience and thought. Error is resolved by observing strict logical consistency; we eventually discover that we were regarding a part for the whole. Thus error finds its explanation in the truth: veritas est norma sui et falsi. Hence the norm of truth lies in the very nature of our thought, not in its relation to something external.

Knowledge of the laws of nature is however not the highest kind of knowledge. Spinoza places intuition above experientia vaga and reason. The former apprehends particular events and the latter discovers general principles, but in intuitive knowledge (scientia intuitiva) the particular phenomenon is immediately apprehended as a characteristic member of the whole system of nature, the particular being in its relation to the whole of Substance. This higher intuition is only acquired after we have passed through the stages of experience and science. Spinoza even says that he himself understood but very little in this highest manner. It appears to be more like an artificial intuition than a pure scientific conception.

We regard things from the standpoint of eternity (sub specie æterni) in the second as well as in the third form of knowledge; i.e. not in their isolation and contingency, but as members of a more comprehensive system.

b. Following Descartes and Hobbes, Spinoza bases his entire philosophy on the principle of causality, the validity of which, for him as for them, is self-evident. In his exposition of the law of causation he takes special pains to