After René Descartes outlines a rationalist philosophy in which God logically sustains reality and grants human freedom, two critics of Descartes, Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza, argue against these positions.

After René Descartes outlines a rationalist philosophy in which God logically sustains reality and grants human freedom, two critics of Descartes, Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza, argue against these positions.  Hobbes argues that the human mind is merely a material machine with specific desires so that there cannot be true freewill and intellectual detachment, much less a control of one’s appetites by the mind.  Spinoza argues that an all-powerful God or source must produce an amoral universe in which every mode or individual is equally and necessarily produced; as a result, there can be no evaluative ranking or special status for any being in Nature.  These two critics completely reform or attack Cartesian ideas to make humans a product of a material and indifferent Nature.  In the wake of Hobbes’ and Spinoza’s attacks, Gottlieb Leibniz attempts to defend a universe in which humans are special, God is providential (seeks our good), and reason can control our actions.

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