On the 1st of November Henk-Jan Hoekjen (Philosophy) will defend his dissertation 'Pars melior nostri. The Structure of Spinoza's Intellect' on the notion of 'intellect' in Spinoza's philosophy.
PhD thesis defence Henk-Jan Hoekjen on the structure of Spinoza's intellect
The notion of 'intellect' plays a crucial role in Spinoza's philosophy such as laid down in the Ethics. According to Spinoza the intellect is 'our better part' - pars melior nostri - that enables the human mind to achieve the highest ethical goal: blessedness. However, despite the important role that must be assigned to the intellect in Spinoza’s ethical program, the notion cannot be found among the terms that are defined at the beginning of four of the five parts of the Ethics.
definition of 'the intellect'
Whereas concepts such as ‘God’, ‘substance’, ‘attribute’, ‘mode’, and ‘idea’ receive explicit descriptions on the basis of which Spinoza is able to unfold his philosophy in geometrical order, ‘intellect’ is sought in vain among the twenty-six definitions that Spinoza provides in his main work. This confronts us with an important problem: anyone who aims at understanding the exact purport of Spinoza’s philosophy, is forced to construe an adequate conception of pars melior nostri. This study provides such a construction.
metaphysical structure as an expression of the structure of the intellect
This dissertation shows that the intellect not only has an instrumental function in Spinoza’s philosophy (i.e. in reaching blessedness), but that it also has a constructive function. It will be shown that the structural characteristics of the intellect are recognizable in the very metaphysical structure that is laid down in the Ethics. That is to say: in this study it will become evident that the intricate metaphysical structure that is recognizable in the Ethics is an expression of the structure of (Spinoza's conception of) the human intellect. One can only understand Spinoza's complex metaphysics once one has acquired insight into the structural characteristics of Spinoza's conception of the human intellect.