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Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy

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The response of Baruch Spinoza to the fundamental question of philosophy

Chrisantus K Ariche

Abstract


The fundamental question of philosophy has been the question of what is? What is the nature of reality? What is it that exists? What is the nature of cosmos? Why is there something instead of nothing? And if there is something, how can we know it? Summarily put, the fundamental question of philosophy is the question of what is? And can we know it? This question preoccupied the pre-Socratics, philosophers throughout the Greek world. They were concerned with offering explanations of the world and its phenomena that did not rely on god or human based conception. They offered a rational explanation of the universe and offered a rational answer to the fundamental question of philosophy. This quest to offer a response to the fundamental question did not end with the pre-Socratics, it continued from the medieval to the modern period. The modern philosophers also gave their own response to the fundamental question of philosophy, which is primarily metaphysical and secondarily epistemological. This work seeks to examine the response of one of the modern philosophers, Baruch Spinoza, to the fundamental question of philosophy and his indebtedness to the common patrimony of philosophy. For Spinoza, something exists and it is substance, God, nature (three names for the same reality). For Spinoza, we can know it through intuition.

Keywords: Spinoza; Fundamental Questions; Philosophy; Patrimony




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