some philosophers


  • There are no innate ideas
  • Human knowledge is derived either from sense experience or from introspection (reflection)
  • Ideas are things that represent physical and mental things
  • Things have primary qualities (solidity, extension, figure, motion, or rest, numbers) and secondary qualities (color, sound, smells, flavors, etc..)
  • Bodies actually possess the primary qualities but the secondary qualities are merely the effects observed by the mind that percieves them.
  • Good is whatever produces pleasure; evil, pain.
  • Liberty is for sake of persuing happiness.


  • There can be only one infinite substance, comprising of all reality.
  • Infinite substance must have an infinity of attributes.
  • God and Nature (understood as substance) are identical inasmuch as God is infinite.
  • Substance is self caused and depends on nothing other than itself, whether for its existence or for its differentiation into various modes.
  • What we percieve to be a world consisting of numerous and different finite creatures is actually the whole of God or Nature in its attribute of extension.
  • Since thought and extension are attributes of the once substance, the problem of dualism is overcome.


  • To be is to be percieved. A physical thing exists only when it is percieved through the use of the senses.
  • Physical things are complexs of ideas (sensations).
  • Since no idea or sensation exists outside the mind, no physical thing exists outside the mind.
  • Primary qualities are as subjective as are the secondary qualities (see Locke).
  • The only kind of substance is spritual, that which percieves and thinks.
  • God accounts for the uniformity of nature and its continued existence when no finite mind percieves it; God causes the percieving subject to have the ideas that constitute the external world.


  • There is an infinity of individual substances
  • The irreducible, indivisible, indestructable unit of substance is the monad.
  • God is the ultimate, necessary being who is the sufficient reason for existence of all other beings and who is creator and orderer of all monads.
  • Each monad is different from and independant of all others, but none the less linked together with all other monads in a universal and harmonious system.
  • Since God is good, God will always act, both in creation and in providence, for the best.
  • This order of creation is “the best of all possible worlds” as evidenced by order of the systems as a whole. (note, read Voltaire’s “Candide”)


  • Knowledge is derived from sense experience and from reason: From sense experience we derive historical knowledge and prudence, and from reason we derive scientific and philosophical knowledge and wisdom.
  • Scientific or philosophical reason is essentially the same as that which is employed in mathematics, moving from definition, axioms, and postulates, to theorems derived logically from them.
  • Thought, sensation, memory and imagination are nothing but a motion of some substance inside our heads; they are generally caused by motions of things outside us; consequentially, secondary qualities (such as color) do not exist in things, but are purely mental events caused by minute motions that stimulate our minds to produce certain sensations.
  • Only matter exists; there is no such thing as a purely spiritual being; including God.

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