Sophia on the web
A Resource Guide for Philosophy Students
Created by Jennifer Leslie Torgerson, MA
This page last modified: October 14, 2012
© copyright, 1997 - present
1632 – 1677 CE
Baird and Kaufmann. Philosophical Classics: From Plato to Nietzsche, 2nd Edition. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1997 ).
Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy: Book Two. (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1985 ).
__________, A History of Western Philosophy: Hobbes to Hume, 2nd Edition. (San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 1980 ).
Daniel Kolak. The Mayfield Anthology of Western Philosophy. (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1998).
Louis P. Pojman. Classics of Philosophy. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998).
Baruch Spinoza. Reflections and Maxims; Dagobert D. Runes, Editor. (New York, NY: Philosophical Library, 1965 ).
Benedict de Spinoza. On the Improvement of the Understanding, The Ethics, and Correspondence; Unabridged Elwes Translation. (New York, NY: Dover, 1955 ).
T. V. Smith and Marjorie Grene. Philosophers Speak for Themselves: From Descartes to Locke. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1967 ).
The principle works of Spinoza
Part I: Concerning God
1. By that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.
2. A thing is called finite after its kind, when it can be limited by another thing of the same nature; for instance, a body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited by another thought, but a body is not limited by thought, nor a thought by body.
3. By substance, I mean that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself: in other words, that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception.
4. By attribute, I mean that which the intellect perceives as constituting the essence of a substance.
5. By mode, I mean the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.
6. By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite-- that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.
Explanation-- I say absolutely infinite, not infinite after its kind: for, of a thing infinite only after its kind, infinite attributes may be denied; but that which is absolutely infinite, contains in its essence whatever expresses reality, and involves no negation.
7. That thing is called free, which exists solely by the necessity of its own nature, and of which the action is determined by itself alone. On the other hand, that thing is necessary, or rather constrained, which is determined by something external to itself to a fixed and definite method of existence or action.
8. By eternity I mean existence itself, in so far as it is conceived necessarily to follow solely from the definition of that which is eternal.
Explanation-- Existence of this kind is conceived as an eternal truth, like the essence of a thing, and, therefore, cannot be explained by means of continuance or time, though continuance may be conceived without a beginning or end.
1. Everything which exists, exists either in itself or in something else.
2. That which cannot be conceived through anything else, must be conceived through itself.
3. From a given definite cause an effect necessarily follows; and, so on the other hand, if no definite cause be granted, it is impossible that an effect can follow
(ex nihilo nihil fit- from nothing nothing comes; to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Universal causation- the view that every event has a cause.)
4. The knowledge of an effect depends on and involves the knowledge of a cause.
5. Things which have nothing in common cannot be understood, the one by mean of the other; the conception of one does not involve the conception of the other.
6. A true idea must correspond with it’s ideate or object.
(Spinoza holds the correspondence theory of truth.)
7. If a thing can be conceived as non-existing, its essence does not involve existence.
(See the Solomon textbook for the proofs for these propositions)
1. Substance is by nature prior to its modifications.
2. Two substances, whose attributes are different, have nothing in common
3. Things which have nothing in common cannot be one the cause of the other.
4. Two or more distinct things are distinguished one from the other, either by the difference of the attributes of substance, or by the difference of their modifications.
5. There cannot exist in the universe two or more substances having the same nature or attribute.
6. One substance cannot be produced by another substance.
7. Existence belongs to the nature of substance.
8. Every substance is necessarily infinite
9. The more reality or being a thing has the greater the number of its attributes.
10. Each particular attribute of the one substance must be conceived through itself.
11. God, or substance, consisting of infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality, necessary exists.
Proof-- If this be denied, conceive, if possible, that God does not exist: then his essence does not involve existence. But this (by prop 7) is absurd. Therefore God necessarily exists.
NOTE that Spinoza gives more proofs for the existence of God here at Prop 11.
12. No attribute of substance can be conceived from which it would follow that substance can be divided.
13. Substance absolutely infinite is indivisible.
14. Besides God no substance can be granted or conceived.
15. Whatever is, is in God, and without God, nothing can be or be conceived.
16. From the necessity of the divine nature must follow an infinite number of things in infinite ways-- that is, all things which can fall within the sphere of infinite intellect.
17. God acts solely by the laws of his own nature, and is not constrained by anyone.
18. God is the indwelling and not the transient cause of all things.
19. God, and all the attributes of God, is eternal.
20. The existence of God and his essence are one and the same.
Proof-- God (by the last prop) and all his attributes are eternal, that is (by def. 8) each of his attributes expresses existence. Therefore the same attributes of God which explain his eternal essence, explain at the same time his existence. Wherefore God's existence and God's essence are one and the same. Q.E.D. (it is proven)
21. All things which follow from the absolute nature of any attribute of God must always exist and be infinite, or, in other words, are eternal and infinite through the said attribute.
22. Whatsoever follows from any attribute of God, is so far as it is modified by a modification, which exists necessarily and as infinite, through the said attribute, must also exist necessarily as infinite.
23. Every mode, which exists both necessarily and as infinite, must necessarily follow either from the absolute nature of some attribute of God, or from an attribute modified by a modification which exists necessarily, and as infinite.
24. The essence of things produced by God does not involve existence
Corollary-- Hence it follows that God is not only the cause of things coming into existence, that is, in scholastic phraseology; God is the cause of the being of things (essendi rerum). [...] God must be the sole cause, inasmuch as to him alone does existence appertain.
25. God is the efficient cause not only of the existence of things, but also of their essence.
32. Will cannot be called a free will, but only a necessary cause.
Corollary 1- Hence it follows, first, that God does not act according to freedom of will.
Corollary 2- It follows, secondly, that will and intellect stand in the same relation to the nature of God, as do motion, and rest, and absolutely all natural phenomena, which must be conditioned by God.
34. God's power is identical with his essence.
Substance is that which can be conceived alone.
Substance therefore needs nothing else in order to exist.
Double-aspect theory (identity theory)
Spinoza, a Dutch philosopher, held the view that mind and body were just two aspects of the same one reality. This is pantheistic, or the belief that all is God. Mental reality is subjective or internal, and bodily reality is objective or external. We know our inner life intimately, but we only know the physical world second-hand through sense experience. Spinoza was a rationalist.
For Spinoza, the mind and the body are aspects of the
Absolute. The mind is the thinking mode, and the body is the extended mode.
Hence, there isn't a separation of mind-body for Spinoza like there was for
Descartes' dualism. [Descartes cannot account for the correspondence of idea
to the objects they are ideas about]
Critique of Double Aspect Theory
Spinoza too has relied on a priori concepts not accepted by empiricists (nor all rationalists). Double Aspect theory is thought to be a crude reductionism, in that it reduces what dualists call mind substance and body substance to nothing more than mere aspects of another more real substance. Mind and body are merely consequences of the substantial causal activity. Only God is seen to be "free” according to Spinoza, hence everything in the universe is determined by the Absolute's nature, and it seems that even His nature is necessary and determinate. (Spinoza thought that God did not have limit, even though He is extended. He is simple, and perfect, and cannot have parts, nor limitations, hence His necessary nature (that He is simple, etc.) is not a limitation).