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date: 24 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Spinoza seems to commit himself to two implausible doctrines about representation: (i) that no idea can represent what is not the case and (ii) that every idea of imagination represents a truly vast amount of what is or has been the case. This essay examines the roles of confusion and causation in Spinoza’s theory of imaginative representation. In doing so, it uncovers a promising way in which he could use his distinctive conatus doctrine—that “each thing, insofar as it is in itself, strives to persevere in its being” (E3p6)—both to constrain the otherwise vast extent of the imaginative representation of what is and to explain how imaginative misrepresentation is possible.

Keywords: representation, misrepresentation, confusion, causation, conatus

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