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Descartes and Spinoza on Substance Rene Descartes and Baruch Spinoza were rationalist philosophers seeing universe through mathematics everything is ordered and can be demonstrated in geometrical manner Even though Spinoza was heavily influenced by Descartes they did not share the same view of the essence of substance and therefore God Whereas Descartes was substance dualist Spinoza believed in one substance Descartes mind and matter distinction can be found in his Meditations on First Philosophy written in 1640 According to Descartes mind and matter are different kinds of substances Whereas physical body is divisible and can be extended in space width and breath mind is entirely indivisible immaterial and non spatial These two different kinds of substance can causally interact Thus mind substance can cause matter substance the body to act and matter substance the body can cause mind substance to have certain sensations most often by itself being acted on by other material objects Because Descartes thought these two sorts of substance are essentially different he held that they are also independent Thus matter can exist without minds and minds can exist without matter God for him is a third substance which is perfect and immutable and which oversees us Baruch Spinoza in his work Ethic agrees with Descartes that substance can only be known through its attributes However he rejects Descartes dualism Disagreeing with Descartes Spinoza maintains that mind and body have no influence on each other and are the two attributes of the one substance God Spinoza argues that the definition of substance requires that there can only be a single substance thus making it impossible for the mind and body to be distinct substances For him God is everything and in everything He is not transitive but immanent
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