Discuss the second kind of knowledge in Spinoza. How does Reason work and how can it help us to know the world? What are some of the strengths and limitations of the second kind of knowledge? Relate the second kind of knowledge to other passages in the book.
In Spinoza’s work ‘Ethics’ we are given three ways in which we understand, perceive and form universal notions. These three ways are known as the three kinds of knowledge. The first kind of knowledge being imagination is drawn from sensory experience. This kind of knowledge, Spinoza believes does not lead to truth or the ‘actual essence of things’ it ‘is the only cause of falsity’ (Spinoza, EIIP41, pg57). Reason, the second kind of knowledge which starts with simple adequate ideas and common ideas can provide us with truth. The third kind of knowledge, Intution can be found through Reason but cannot be found through Imagination.Intuition is seeking the truth or ‘actual essence of things’ through God himself. The main focus of this essay will be to gain a broader awarness of Reason as the second kind of knowledge and realise how it can help us to know the world through looking at some of its strengths and limitations.
Spinoza first introduces us to the term of Reason in part two of the ‘Ethics’, where Reason is defined as being derived from the fact that we have common notions and adequate ideas of the properties of things. ‘All bodies agree in certain things, which by (EIIP38) must be perceived adequately, or clearly and distinctly by all’ (Spinoza, EIIP38C, pg54). It can clearly be established from P41 and further elaborated on in P42 that according to Spinoza, obtaining knowledge through Reason will always lead to adequate ideas therefore leading to the truth and this in turn means that one will be better equipped to face the world through the second kind of knowledge rather than the first as it also helps to distinguish between what is false and true rather than only knowing the truth.