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Spinozan filosofia 26.1.
Kertaus:
Monismi-argumentti
Peruskäsitteet:
1d3. Substanssi on käsitteellisesti ja ontologisesti itsenäinen olio.
1d4. Attribuutti on substanssin olemus.
Yleinen metafyysinen olettamus (=YMO): mikä tahansa olio on joko substanssi tai substanssin
modifikaatio (modus). Modifikaatiot ovat käsitteellisesti ja ontologisesti riippuvaisia substanssista.
Substanssi on attribuuttiensa konstituoima. Tästä syystä attribuutin ei voi sanoa olevan substanssissa.
Maailman ajatellaan koostuvan substanssiyksilöistä ja niiden modifikaatioista. Tämä on Descartesin
fillosofian perusajatus, jolla on tosin juurensa jo Aristoteleen filosofiassa.
Spinoza ja (YMO). Spinoza ei monismillaan tahdo vastustaa YMO:ta; päinvastoin hän hyväksyy sen.
Spinozan ajatus on, että voi olla vain yksi perimmäinen ominaisuuksien kantaja (=substanssi).
1. Millä tahansa substanssilla on välttämättä jokin attribuutti. (Implisiittinen premissi).
2. Mikä tahansa mahdollinen substanssi on välttämättä olemassa. (1p7).
3. Kahdella substanssilla ei voi olla yhteistä attribuuttia. (1p5).
4. Substanssi, jolla on kaikki mahdolliset attribuutit, (=Jumala) on mahdollinen. (1d6, 1p9, 1p10).
5.
On olemassa mahdollinen substanssi s, joka ei ole Jumala. (Epäsuoran todistuksen
premissi).
6.
Jumala on olemassa. 2,4.
7.
s on olemassa. 2,5.
8.
Substanssilla s ja Jumalalla on yhteinen attribuutti. 1, 4, 7.
9.
Substanssilla s ja Jumalalla ei ole yhteistä attribuuttia. 3.
10.
Ristiriita 8 ja 9.
Siis,
11. Ei ole olemassa mahdollista substanssia, joka ei ole Jumala.
Argumentin premissit, 1:tä lukuunottamatta, ovat ongelmallisia. Tarkastellaan niitä
yksityiskohtaisemmin.
2. Mikä tahansa mahdollinen substanssi on välttämättä olemassa.
Spinoza todistaa tämän substanssin kausaalisen itsenäisyyden avulla. Todistus on hyvin lyhyt:
Substanssia ei voi aikaansaada mikään muu. Substanssi on siis itsensä syy eli olemassaolo kuuluu sen
olemukseen, eli substanssin luonteeseen kuuluu olemassaolo.
Tämä lyhyt todistus synnyttää ainakin kaksi kysymystä: (i) Miksi substanssin oltava kausaalisesti
itsenäinen ja (ii) miten kausaalisesta itsenäisyydestä seuraa välttämätön olemassaolo?
Vastaus kysymykseen (i) (1p6 vaihtoehtoinen todistus): Spinozan mukaan on aksiomaattisesti totta
(1a4), että vaikutuksen idea tai käsitys sisältää syyn idean tai käsityksen. Jos siis jokin substanssi olisi
jonkin toisen olion x aikaansaama, niin s olisi käsitettävä x:n avulla. Mutta tämä taas tarkoittaisi sitä,
ettei s olisi itsessään käsitettävä, mikä on vastoin substanssin määritelmää.
Vastaus kysymykseen (ii) (1p11 ensimmäinen vaihtoehtoinen todistus) : Spinoza hyväksyy nk.
riittävän perusteen periaatteen, jonka mukaan minka tahansa olion olemassaololle tai
ei-olemassaololle on oltava riittävä syy tai peruste. Oletetetaan nyt, ettei mahdollinen substanssi s ole
olemassa. Riittävän perusteen periaatteen mukaan s:n ei-olemassaololle on oltava syy. Mutta koska s
on substanssi, miään ulkoinen ei voi estää sen olemassaoloa. Näin ollen estävän tekijän täytyy kuulua
s:n olemukseen mikä ei voisi tarkoittaa muuta kuin, että tuo olemus on ristiriitainen samalla tavalla
kuin esim. pyöreän neliön olemus on ristiriitainen. Ristiriitainen olemus ei kuitenkaan ole
mahdollisen olion olemus. On siis pääteltävä, että kausaalisesti itsenäisen olion on oltava välttämättä
olemassa. (Tässä päättelyssä ei tarvitse tuekutua ei-olemassolevien olioiden ontologiiaan. Ideana on,
että mahdollinen substanssi on sellainen, jonka määritelmä ei ole ristiriitainen ja että tällaisen
määritelmän ehtojen täytyy välttämättä täyttyä).
3. Kahdella substanssilla ei voi olla yhteistä attribuuttia (1p5) (Ei-yhteistä attribuuttia periaate).
Tämä on monismi-todistuksen kiistellyin kohta. Arvioimista vaikuttaa tapa, jolla Spinoza sen
muotoilee. Pitäisi siis ymmärtää (i) miten Spinoza tuon todistaa ja (ii) pohtia onko todistus
onnistunut. Spinoza todistaa periatteen seuraavasti:
[1] Jos erillisiä substansseja olisi kaksi tai enemmän, niin ne olisi erotettava toistaan
joko attribuuttien erolla tai modifikaatioiden erolla (p4). [2] Mikäli ne erotetaan
toisistaan vain attribuuttien erolla, niin silloin myönnetään, että on vain yksi samaa
attribuuttia oleva. [3] Mutta jos [ne erotetaan toisistaan] affektioiden erolla, niin koska
substanssi on luonnoltaan priorinen affekteihinsa nähden, niin (P1) siirtämällä affektit
syrjään ja tarkastelemalla substanssia itsessään, se on (d3 ja a6), tarkastelemalla
substanssia todesti, toista substanssia ei voi erottaa toisesta, se on (p4), ei voi olla useita,
mutta vain yksi samaa luonnetta tai attribuuttia oleva. m.o.t.
Olettamuksena on, että on useita erillisiä substansseja. Propositossa 1p4 S. katsoo todistaneensa, että
kahden substanssin on erottava toisistaan joko attribuuttiensa tai affektiensa suhteen. (Tämän Leibniz
risti myöhemmin identitatis indiscernibilium –periaatteeksi: jos x≠y, niin täytyy olla jotakin mikä on
totta x.stä mutta ei ole totta y:stä). Näin ollen jos x ja y ovat erillisä substansseja jonkun seuraavista
vaihtoehdoista tulisi vallita:
(i) x ja y poikkeavat vain attribuuttiensa suhteen.
(ii) x ja y poikkeavat vain modifikaatioittensa suhteen.
(iii) x ja y poikkeavat sekä attribuuttiensa että modifikaatioittensa suhteen.
(i) x ja y poikkeavat vain attribuuttiensa suhteen
Tästä seuraa, että täytyy olla yksi attribuutti joka on x:llä mutta puuttuu y:ltä (tai vice versa).
Ongelma: 1p4 näyttäisi implikoivan, että x ja y eivät voi jakaa kaikkia attribuuttejaan. Mikään ei
kuitenkaan näyttäisi estävän sitä, että x:llä on jokin yhteinen attribuutti. (Miksei Spinoza argumentoi
seuraavasti: kaksi substanssia eivät voi poiketa pelkästään attribuuttiensa suhteen, koska kullakin
attribuutilla on välttämättä omat modifikaationsa? Olisiko tilanne, jossa x:llä ja y:llä ei ole
modifikaatioita lainkaan, se mitä Spinoza tässä ajattelee?) Ajatteleeko Spinoza vain yhden attribuutin
substansseja? Ei voi ajatella, koska monismin todistus edellyttää, ettei usean attribuutin substanssi
voi jakaa mitään attribuuteistaan jonkin muun substanssi kanssa.
(ii) x ja y poikkeavat modifikaatioittensa suhteen.
Tämä tilanteen Spinoza sulkee pois sanomalla, että substanssin modifikaatiot voidaan siirtää syrjään.
Modifikaatiot eivät individuoi. (Näin ollen (ii) implikoi (iii):n!) Voisiko olla niin, että substanssit
nähdään diakronisen identiteetin takaajina? Affektit voivat vaihdella. Näin ollen substanssin
identiteetin on perustuttava sen attribuuteille. Tästä seuraa, että myös kahden substanssin erillisyyden
on perustuttava erolle attribuuteissa. Mutta mikäli näin on, niin eikö pitäisi ajatella vain, että kahdella
substanssilla ei voi olla kaikkia yhteisiä attribuutteja?
Bennett argumentoi seuraavasti: aksidentaalinen ominaisuus on ominaisuus, jota ilman olio voi olla
olemassa. Bennettin mukaan Spinoza saattaa tarkoittaa affektilla aksidentaalista ominaisuutta.
Oletetaan sitten, että substanssit x ja y poikkeavat vain affektiensa suhteen. Nyt on mahdollista,
Bennett ajattelee, että ajan oloon x saa kaikki y:n ominaisuudet ja y kaikki x:n ominaisuudet. Tämä
tarkoittaisi sitä että x:stä voisi tulla y ja y:stä x. Bennett kuitenkin pitää periaatetta
(IP) Jos x ei ole y niin on välttämätöntä, että x ei ole y
luontevana. (Tämä periaate sulkee pois sen, että x:stä voisi tulla y). Näin ollen tilanne, jossa
substanssit poikkevat vain affektiensa suhteen poikkeamatta attribuuttiensa suhteen, on mahdoton.
Mutta kuten Bennettkin myöntää, tämä argumentti osoittaa vain sen, etteivät kaksi substanssia voi
jakaa kaikkia attribuuttejaan.
Spinozan idea saattaa olla seuraava. Ensimmäinen premissi on, että minulla on singulaarisia ideoita:
ideoita jotka ovat jostakin tietystä oliosta. Identifioin olion joko itsessään tai jonkin muun avulla. Jos
identifioin sen jonkin muun avulla, niin minun on priorisesti identifioitava tuo jokin muu. Mikäli
identifioin olion sen affektien perusteella, niin identifoin sen realitonaalisesti viittaamalla johonkin
muuhun olioon: Jos identifioin jonkun siksi joka istuu Liisan ja Pekan välissä, niin minun on
tunnistettava Liisa ja Pekka. Tällainen relationaalinen identifikaatio ei ehkä voi jatkua loputtomiin ja
niinpä minun on kyettävä identifioimaan joku tai jokin viittamatta johonkin muuhun. Descartesille
identifikaation lähtökohta oli luultavasti minä, mutta ei Spinozalle. Koska affektit ovat käsitteellisesti
riippuvaisia substanssista, substanssin identifikaatio ei voi perustua niille. Identifikaatio on taas sekä
Spinozalle että Descartesille ominaisuusvälitteistä—identifioivalla ajatuksella on sisältö. Nämä
sisällöt ovat individuoivia ja identifoidessani olion itsessään identifoin sen sellaisen piirteen avulla,
jonka tunteminen ei edellytä minkään muun olion tuntemista. Attribuutit ovat tällaisia piirteitä.
Attribuutti on jotakin sellaista, jonka intellekti havaitsee ikäänkuin (tanquam) muodostavan
substanssin olemuksen. Oleteaan nyt, ettei attribuutti muodostaisikaan substanssin
olemusta—olettamus joka on siis yhteensopivä määritelmän 1d4 kanssa. Tällaisessa tapauksessa olisi
mahdollista, etteivät singulaariset ajatukset olisikaan singulaarisia ajatuksia, kuten seuraavasta
ilmenee: oletetaan, että tunnen substanssin s vain sen attribuutin A perusteella. Itse asiassa on toinen
substanssi s’ jolla on attribuutti A mutta myös attribuutti B. Tässä tapauksessa ajatukseni s:stä olisi
myös ajatus s’:sta eikä siis singulaarinen ajatus ollenkaan. Itse asiassa minun olisi tiedettävä, ettei
s:lla ole muita attribuutteja kuin A.
Modaaliteoria
SPINOZA'S PROOF OF NECESSITARIANISM
Olli Koistinen
Introduction
In the Ethics 1p29, Spinoza states his necessitarianism
uncompromisingly:
In nature there is nothing contingent, but all things
have been determined from the necessity of the divine
nature to exist and produce an effect in a certain way.i
In recent Spinoza scholarship, much less attention has been paid
to Spinoza's proof of necessitarianism than to the consistency
of his modal theory. I believe Spinoza is a necessitarian and that
sufficient work has been done to show that necessitarianism is
consistent with his basic metaphysics.ii In this paper, my aim
is to give a reconstruction of Spinoza's proof of
necessitarianism which, I hope, explains some problems in the
texts better than some well-argued interpretations offered in
the literature.
In the first section, I consider what the proof of
necessitarianism in Spinoza’s system requires. Further, in the
first section, Jonathan Bennett’s (1984) reading of 1p16 as
involving a commitment to necessitarianism is presented and
accepted. In the second section, Bennett's suggestion how Spinoza
might have been led to conclude necessitarianism from his basic
assumptions is evaluated. The third section is devoted to Don
Garrett’s (1991) suggestion about the role of perfection in
Spinoza’s necessitarianism. It is argued that the problem of
apparently possible alternative series of modes cannot be solved
by appealing to a principle of perfection in the way Garrett
suggests. It has been argued that the principle of perfection is
applicable only if it can be shown that among the apparently
possible alternative series of modes there must be one that is
the most perfect. However, it seems that no such argument can be
given if internally consistent alternative series of modes are
assumed. In the fourth section, Spinoza’s necessitarianism is
looked from a new perspective. Here it is argued that the basic
assumptions Spinoza needed to reach necessitarianism were the
following:
(i) necessary existence of substances;
(ii) substance-property ontology;
(iii)superessentialism;
(iv) the ‘no shared attribute’ thesis.iii
It is also claimed that when Spinoza’s proof of necessitarianism
is seen in this way, the problem of apparently possible
alternative series of modes can be solved. As Diane Steinberg
(1981) suggests, Spinoza’s view of God as the perfect being, or
an absolutely infinite being, is conceptually tied to the
existence of all possible modes. Thus, the question about
necessitarianism can be seen to bounce back to Spinoza’s proof
of the existence of God. It is claimed that Spinoza proves the
perfection of any substance in all of its attributes in 1p8, and
that in this proof Spinoza’s appeal to superessentialism
eliminates the threat posed by the apparently possible
alternative series of finite modes. In the fourth section, it is
also argued that Spinoza’s view about the causal isolatedness of
substances justifies the addition of superessentialism as an
implicit premise in his argument for necessitarianism. Thus, I
hope that this paper can be seen as developing necessitarian
readings of Spinoza.
1. Spinoza's commitment to necessitarianism
1.1. What Spinoza has to prove?
I interpret Spinoza as a substance-property ontologist which
means that he holds that besides substances and properties there
is nothing.iv Necessitarianism holds in a substance-property
ontology if and only if (i) each substance is a necessary existent
(or exists by necessity when it exists) and (ii) for all
substances x, if at time t the substance x has the property of
being F, then x necessarily has F at t. Because Spinoza is a
substance monist what he has to prove is that his only substance
God exists necessarily and that God has all its properties
necessarily.
Spinoza attributes necessary existence to God in 1p11. God exists
necessarily because God is a substance and because each substance
by 1p7 necessarily exists. According to Spinoza, substances have
to exist by necessity because they are independent. Their
existence cannot be caused by anything external to them, nor can
anything prevent them from existing. From this Spinoza,
apparently relying on the principle of sufficient reason,
concludes that each substance must be a necessary existent.v
Spinoza divides the properties of the substance into attributes
and modes. Attributes are conceived through themselves. They are,
as Bennett (1984, 61) puts it, basic ways of being. Because of
their basicness, attributes are essential to their substances.
For Spinoza, modes are always modes of some attribute through
which they are conceived. Modes are divided into infinite and
finite modes. Finite modes are particular things having
spatio-temporal limits to their existence. Infinite modes are
pervasive and eternal features of the substance; things that have
no spatio-temporal limits to their existence. Because each mode
is necessarily a mode of some attribute, Spinoza's
necessitarianism requires that each attribute is perfect, or
full, i.e. that if m is a possible mode of an attribute A, then
m is in A. The focus of this paper lies in giving a plausible
explanation of why Spinoza thought that each attribute must be
perfect.
1.2. 1p16 as the basis of Spinoza's necessitarianismAs Bennett
(1984) and Garrett (1991) have argued, Spinoza seems to commit
himself to necessitarianism in 1p16:
From the necessity of the divine nature there must
follow infinitely many things in infinitely many modes,
(i.e., everything which can fall under an infinite
intellect.)
In 1p17s, Spinoza claims that he has shown in 1p16 that
everything follows from the nature of God by the same
necessity as it follows from the nature of a triangle
that its three angles are equal to two right angles.
Because it is plausible to assume that the relation between the
nature of the triangle and the truth that its three angles are
equal to two right angles is that of logical entailment, it is
also natural to hold that according to Spinoza the relation
between the nature of God and anything that exists is that of
logical entailment. But because Spinoza thought that God’s nature
is necessarily instantiated, it follows that everything
necessarily follows from something that necessarily exists.
However, the following inference schema, where  stands for 'it
is necessary that…' and ‘PQ’ for ‘If P, then Q’, is valid:
(PQ)
P
________
Q
Thus, 1p16, as it is rephrased in 1p17s, seems to support the
necessity of all truths.vi
Bennett (1984, 122) has considered 1p16 in detail. What 1p16 says
depends, of course, on how its "antecedent"
A: The necessity of divine nature
and its "consequent"
B: Everything which can fall under an infinite intellect
are interpreted. Bennett gives two readings of both A and B:
A1:
A2:
B1:
B2:
Necessary truths about the universe.
All truths about the universe.
Totality of truths.
Totality of all possible truths.
Bennett says that it is natural to take A as meaning A1 and of
B2 he says that Spinoza "sometimes uses the notion of an
'infinite' or unlimited intellect to express the notion of what
is possible". Thus, it is plausible to interpret 1p16 as meaning
that the totality of all possible truths follows from necessary
truths; i.e. it is plausible to interpret 1p16 as saying that
(1) A1B2.
However, Bennett shows that also the alternatives
(2) A2B2
and
(3) A1B1
say that the actual world is the only possible world.
That (2) says that the actual world is the only possible world
can be seen as follows: Suppose q is a possible truth. Now, if
a possible truth q is entailed by a truth, then q is true. Thus,
it follows from (2) that all possible truths are true. Suppose
now that a proposition is false in the actual world. Because it
is false in the actual world, it is not a possible truth, i.e.
its truth must be an impossibility. But an impossibility cannot
be true in any world and, therefore, the set of truths in the
actual world is identical to the set of truths in any other world.
But what this means is just that the actual world is the only
possible world.
It is easy to see that also (3) involves a commitment to
necessitarianism. What (3) says is that all truths are entailed
by necessary truths. Suppose now that a proposition p is false
in the actual world. From this it follows that its negation p
is true in the actual world. Thus, p must be entailed by necessary
truths and must, therefore, be necessary. However, the necessity
of p means the impossibility of p. Thus, if a proposition is false
in the actual world, there is no world where it is true, and this
says that the actual world is the only possible world.
Of the alternative interpretations of A and B considered here,
1p16 only as A2B1 allows contingency. However, A2B1 is a
trifling tautology and it makes no sense to interpret Spinoza as
intending that by 1p16. So, it seems that there is excellent
evidence for the view that Spinoza endorses necessitarianism in
1p16.vii
2. Bennett and the problem of apparently possible alternative
series of modes
2.1. Bennett’s view
Bennett concentrates on the modal status about truths of finite
modes. There is no problem in Spinoza’s system about treating
infinite modes as necessary, because as infinite they derive
their status as necessary truths either from being entailed by
the absolute nature of God or by something that is entailed by
the absolute nature of God. However, truths about finite modes
create a problem. Finite modes cannot follow from the absolute
nature of God or from something that follows from the absolute
nature of God, because from those nothing but infinite modes
follow.viii Now, Spinoza believes that instead of following from
God’s absolute nature, finite modes follow from God’s nature
insofar as that nature is modified by finite modifications. And
what this means is simply that each finite thing is caused by some
other finite thing:
1p28 Every singular thing, or any thing which is finite
and has a determinate existence, can neither exist nor
be determined to produce an effect unless it is
determined to exist and produce an effect by another
cause, which is also finite and has a determinate
existence; and again, this cause also can neither exist
nor be determined to produce an effect unless it is
determined to exist and produce an effect by another,
which is also finite and has a determinate existence,
and so on, to infinity.
But it seems that if 1p28 is the whole story about the generation
of finite things, Spinoza’s system allows the existence of
contingent truths. Bennett (1984, 74-75) points out that what 1p28
entails about the modal status of every finite thing is that it
is inevitable “in the sense that: Given the previous history of
the world, it could not possibly have not happened exactly as it
did happen.” But on the other hand, as Bennett shows, there is a
logical gap between 'inevitability' and 'necessity': suppose that
e is a singular thing which exists in an infinite causal series
W. e exists necessarily only if the infinite causal series W itself
exists necessarily.ix But causal determinism between singular
things does not necessitate the existence of the causal series of
which singular things are parts; causal determinism between finite
things does not show that the world must have the complete history
it has. It seems that Spinoza should somehow show that there are
no alternatives to the infinite causal series of the actual world.
Thus, there is a problem that could be called the problem of
apparently possible alternative series of modes which Spinoza
seems to overlook.
Bennett (1984, 124) suggests that Spinoza’s apparent failure to
face the problem of apparently possible alternative series of
modes may be based on the mistaken assumption that what is
inevitable is also necessary. As Bennett points out, Spinoza
makes a distinction between 'necessary by reason of its cause'
and 'necessary by reason of its essence':
A thing is called necessary either by reason of its
essence or by reason of its cause. For a thing's
existence follows necessarily either from its essence
and definition or from a given efficient cause.
(1p33s1/GII/74/6-8).x
Thus, if a thing has a sufficient cause from which it necessarily
follows, the thing is necessary by reason of its cause. But
because, according to Spinoza, each finite thing exists in an
infinite causal series, each finite thing is necessary by reason
of its cause. Had Spinoza inferred from this that all finite
things exist by necessity when they exist, he might have thought
to have reached a solution how to reconcile explanatory
rationalism with 1p28.xi Thus, what Bennett suggests is that the
concept of ‘necessity by reason of its cause’ might have made
Spinoza blind to the problem of apparently possible alternative
series of modes.xii
However, 'necessity by reason of its cause', as entailed solely
by 1p28, means nothing but inevitability and as we have already
seen, the identification of inevitability with necessity is
fallacious.
Before evaluating Bennett’s view, it must be emphasized that he
offers the erroneous identification of inevitability with
necessity only as one possible explanation why Spinoza, in spite
of 1p28, was, at least, inclined to endorse necessitarianism.
2.2. Problems in Bennett's viewIn the light of what has been said
above, it is natural to see Bennett (1984, 118-119) write of
Spinoza's attitude to the question about the modal status of the
infinite causal series of finite items as follows:
he apparently tends to overlook the hard question about
the entire series, writing as though our ability to
answer the why question about any particular
proposition is enough to meet the demands of explanatory
rationalism.
Edwin Curley (1988, 151 note 61) shares much of Bennett's view
in holding that Spinoza never squarely faced the question about
the modal status of the entire infinite causal series. It seems
to me, however, that there is decisive textual evidence against
Bennett's and Curley's views on Spinoza's attitude to the
infinite causal series of finite things. In the Short Treatise,
Spinoza squarely faced the question about the modal status of the
infinite causal series and in facing the question he realized that
mere existence in an infinite causal series does not render the
truth about the thing's existence necessary. The crucial passage
from the Short Treatise (1985,GI/41-42) goes as follows:
Perhaps someone will say that, indeed, something
contingent has no determinate and certain cause, but a
contingent cause.
If that were so, it would be either in a divided sense
[in sensu diviso] or in a composite one [in sensu
composito], viz. either the existence of that cause is
contingent (but not its being a cause), or it is
contingent that that thing (which itself would
necessarily exist in Nature) should be a cause of the
production of the contingent thing. But in either sense,
this is false.
For as the first is concerned, if the contingent thing
is contingent because its cause is contingent [with
respect to its existence], then that cause must also be
contingent because the cause that produced it is also
contingent [with respect to its existence] and so on,
to infinity. And because we have already proven that
everything depends on one single cause, then that cause
would also have to be contingent. And this is plainly
false.
As for the second, if that cause were not more
determined to produce the one rather than the other,
i.e., either to produce this something, or to omit
producing it, then it would at the same time be
impossible both that it should produce it and that it
should omit producing it. This is an outright
contradiction.
In this passage, Spinoza considers the question whether a thing
that has a cause to its existence could still be contingent and
he sees two ways how that might happen:(i) either the existence
of the cause is contingent (contingency in sensu diviso) or (ii)
the cause which need not exist contingently causes contingently
(contingency in sensu composito). Let us consider these
alternatives in some detail.
Contingency in sensu composito
An effect which exists in an infinite causal series is contingent
in sensu composito, if it is caused indeterministically; i.e. if
its cause could have failed to cause it. However, for Spinoza such
indeterministic causation makes no sense. Spinoza seems to think
without any explicit argument that causation must be
deterministic; i.e. if x was the cause of y, then in the
circumstances where x occurred x could not have failed to cause
y.xiii In the Ethics, the necessity of causal relation is included
as an axiom. In 1a3, Spinoza writes:
From a given determinate cause the effect follows
necessarily; and conversely, if there is no determinate
cause it is impossible for an effect to follow.
This axiom states two causal principles: (i) determinate causes
have their effects necessarily; and (ii) determinate causes are
all the causes there are. Thus, contingency in sensu composito
is impossible because for Spinoza it is an axiomatic truth that
causal relations are necessary or determinate.
Contingency in sensu diviso
Spinoza's apprehension of this sort of contingency is what
commentators have been looking for. A thing is contingent in sensu
diviso if it exists in an infinite deterministically ordered
causal series of finite things whose members are contingent
existents. Here causal relations are necessary even though their
relata are assumed to be contingent. However, this is just the
sort of contingency that Bennett and Curley see as being involved
in Spinoza's system even though they claim that Spinoza never
realized that and did not even face the question whether universal
determinism is consistent with contingency. In the Short
Treatise, Spinoza, then, faced the question about the modal
status of the infinite causal series. Spinoza says that
contingency in sensu diviso is impossible because each thing
there is depends on one single cause which has to exist by
necessity.
3. Perfection based solution to the the problem of apparently
possible alternative series of modes
Garrett (1991) suggests two ways how Spinoza could have guarded
himself against the charge that there are possible total systems
of modes alternative to the actual one.xiv The second and fuller
solution depends on a principle of perfection which appears to
say that of all the alternative internally consistent series of
finite modes the most perfect exists.xv The principle of
perfection seems to be at work in Spinoza's argument for the
possibility of an all-attribute substance. Garrett (1991, 197)
writes as follows:
[Spinoza] evidently holds that "substance with less
than the greatest possible number of attributes" is a
contradiction, on the grounds that greater number of
attributes is correlated with greater reality (by 1p9),
so that the existence of God is necessary, while the
existence of substances of fewer attributes is
impossible.
Garrett (ibid.) applies the principle of perfection at the level
of modes as follows:
It is therefore plausible that he would also regard
"substance whose attributes express less than the
greatest possible reality and perfection through their
series of finite modes" as a contradiction, thus making
the series of finite modes that expresses the highest
degree of reality and perfection necessary, and all
lesser series impossible.
Here Garrett suggests that the actual system of modes is the only
possible system because the actual system of modes is the most
perfect of all the alternative systems.xvi
Garrett's perfection based solution to the problem of apparently
possible alternative series of modes is tempting because it is
plausible to hold that Spinoza’s view, that an all-attribute
substance is possible, is premised on the principle of
perfection. However, it is somewhat problematic to apply the
principle of perfection to the systems of modes. The most pressing
problem seems to be this: the solution assumes that there must
one system of modes that expresses the greatest possible reality
and perfection. This assumption can be questioned at least in two
different ways:
(i) why can't there be an infinity of systems of finite
modes such that for each system x there is an alternative
system y better than x? If there is an infinity of such
systems, then no actualization of a system of finite
modes would meet the demands of the principle of
perfection.
(ii) why can't there be several alternatives of which
it is true that all other alternatives are inferior to
them? If ties between the best or most perfect
alternatives are possible, then no actualization of a
system of finite modes would meet the demands of the
principle of perfection.xvii
Moreover, it is difficult to know how the perfection of different
mode systems should be evaluated. It seems that there are two
plausible criteria of perfection once it is kept in mind that by
perfection and reality Spinoza means the same.xviii The first
criterion, that I call the inclusion criterion, is expressible
as follows:
(IC) The system A of N's is more perfect than the system
B of N's if the members of B form a genuine subset of
the members of A.
For example, if substance s has attributes E and T and substance
s' only E, then s is more perfect in its attributes than s'; or
to take another example, the set of all natural numbers is more
perfect than the set of even integers because the latter is a
genuine subset of the former.
The second criterion of perfection that is applicable only to
finite systems says simply that a system of N's, A, is more perfect
than another system of N's, B, if the number of N's in A exceeds
the number of N's in B. Let us call this the quantitative criterion
of perfection:
(QC) The system A of N's is more perfect than the system
B of N's if the number of N's in A is greater than the
number of N's in B.
Now, putative alternative systems of modes are either compossible
or incompossible. The mode system A is compossible with the mode
system B iff all the elements of the set formed from the union
of the members of A and B can be realized in one possible world.
Not all mode systems, it seems, can be compossible. Suppose, for
example, that the mode system A involves as its modes Vesuvius
which is quiescent in 45 B.C. and that B involves Vesuvius which
erupts in 45 B.C. The compossibility of A and B would require the
truth of
(S) Vesuvius erupts in 45 B.C. and Vesuvius does not
erupt in 45 B.C.
But because S is contradictory, mode systems A and B are not
compossible.xix It is evident that the (IC) criterion of
perfection is applicable only to compossible alternative systems
of modes. If all alternative mode systems are compossible, then
the most perfect mode system is, of course, the union of all the
alternative mode systems. It seems that the actualization of this
mode system should follow directly from Spinoza's principle of
sufficient reason. If, instead of the maximal system, some other
system were actual, there would be no reason why those modes which
are compossible with the modes of the actual system were not
actual; i.e. in the existing things there could be no reason for
their non-existence. But because in things that exist there is
no reason for the non-existence of things compossible with them,
they have to exist. Thus, here the principle, that of the
alternative possible systems of modes the most perfect has to
exist, follows directly from the principle of sufficient reason.
But why should all the alternative mode systems be compossible?
It seems that the example, considered above, of two alternative
Vesuviuses shows that the possibility of incompossible mode
systems should be ruled out before Spinoza's necessitarianism can
be seen to follow from the principle of sufficient reason.
Suppose, then, that A and B are incompossible systems of modes.
This incompossibility precludes the use of IC-criterion.
However, it seems that also QC-criterion is inapplicable. In
Spinoza's metaphysics, these alternative mode systems have to be
infinite, i.e. there must be an infinity of modes in each of them.
Thus, it makes no sense to say that the number of the modes in
one mode system exceeds the number of modes in another mode
system.xx
Moreover, if the problem of apparently possible alternative
series of modes is answered with the help of the principle of
perfection, the following problem arises. If there are internally
consistent but incompossible infinite systems of finite modes,
it follows that there are, in God’s intellect, ideas of things
that he is unable to create.xxi But when Spinoza, in 1p17s1,
contrasts his theory of divine omnipotence to those in which God
is assumed to create through a free act of will, his main worry
is that in these theories God cannot create all that he
understands. However, in Spinoza’s metaphysics where God creates
everything that is in his intellect, God, of course, can create
everything that is in his intellect.
Garrett (1991, 197) also refers to a passage from the beginning
of 1p33s2 which is suggested by Donagan (1971, 249) to give some
reason for holding that the principle of perfection is at work
in Spinoza’s proof of necessitarianism. The passage reads as
follows:
From the preceding it follows that things have been
produced by God with the highest perfection, since they
have followed necessarily from a given most perfect
nature.
However, I am not quite certain whether this passage should be
taken to support Garrett’s interpretation. It is plausible to
take the phrase, ‘From the preceding’, to refer to 1p33 which says
that things could not have been produced in any other order or
connection. Thus, it seems that for Spinoza, the perfection of
things, rather than being a premise in an argument for
necessitarianism, is a consequence of necessitarianism. It seems
that Spinoza's God acts in conformity with the principle of
perfection without being coerced by that principle. Because the
actual world is the only possible world, there is no doubt that
the actual world is the most perfect world. In Spinoza’s system,
God’s being perfect and necessitarianism are almost like two ways
of saying the same thing. God is perfect because from
necessitarianism it follows that there is no lack in the universe
and, for that reason, no lack in God.
4. Substance individuation and necessitarianism
4.1. 1p16dAs we have seen above, and as both Bennett and Garrett
emphasize, Spinoza reaches necessitarianism in 1p16. I too base
my interpretation on 1p16, but what I want to do is to interpret
the proof of that central proposition in such a way that it can
be seen how necessitarianism follows from the preceeding material
of the Ethics. In so doing, I accept Garrett’s interpretation of
Spinoza as a necessitarian, but I also want to emphasize more
strongly than what has been done before the conceptual
connections of 1p16 to what has gone prior in the first part of
the Ethics. I also hope that in the interpretation offered a
satisfying solution to the problem of apparently possible
alternative series of modes is given.
Given the central role of 1p16 in Spinoza's system, its
demonstration is a surprise because in it Spinoza refers to no
prior proposition of the Ethics. The demonstration reads as
follows:
This proposition must be plain to anyone, provided he
attends to the fact that the intellect infers from the
given definition of any thing a number of properties
that really do follow necessarily from it (i.e., from
the very essence of the thing); and that it infers more
properties the more the definition expresses reality;
i.e., the more reality the essence of the defined thing
involves. But since the divine nature has absolutely
infinite attributes (by D6), each of which also
expresses an essence infinite in its own kind, from its
necessity there must follow infinitely many things in
infinite modes (i.e., everything which can fall under
an infinite intellect), q.e.d.
1p16 seems to say that from the absolute infinity of God, i.e.
from the fact that God has infinite attributes each of which
express an essence infinite in its own kind, it follows that
everything possibly true of God must be true of him. To put it
bluntly, the demonstration says that everything that is possibly
true of God must be true of him, because otherwise God would not
be infinite. Crucial in the proof, then, is the following passage:
But since the divine nature has absolutely infinite
attributes (by D6), each of which also expresses an
essence infinite in its own kind, from its necessity
there must follow infinitely many things in infinite
modes.
I believe that Steinberg is right in arguing that in 1p16 the
actualization of everything that is conceivable, or possible,
follows from God’s being perfect.xxii Steinberg (1981, 51) writes:
[I]n [1p16] Spinoza is telling us something important
about his notion of God as the most perfect being. God,
by definition, is 'Being absolutely infinite, that is
to say, substance consisting of infinite attributes,
each one which expresses the eternal and infinite
essence' (EI,dfn. 6). As he stated in a letter to Hudde:
"...since the nature of God...does not consist of a
certain kind of being but of absolutely unlimited being,
His nature also requires all that perfectly expresses
being; otherwise His nature would be limited and
deficient (Letter 36)." In other words, all possible
attributes must in fact belong to God or He would not
be perfect, hence would not be God. What is true at the
level of the attributes is also true of the modes of each
attribute: God consists of infinite attributes each one
of which expresses eternal and infinite essence. That
each attribute must produce every possible mode (i.e.,
every mode which is conceivable in terms of that
attribute) is what Spinoza is saying in EI,16. If it were
otherwise God would not be perfect. (Emphasis added).
Steinberg’s point is that it is a conceptual truth that each of
God’s attributes is perfect. If it were otherwise, God would not
be God. Thus, if all possible modes were not realized, God would
not exist. Steinberg’s argument is that in the same way as it must
be required of God that he has all possible attributes, it must
be required of God that every possible mode will be in him. The
infinity of God’s attributes requires that every possible mode
of any attribute must gain actuality. Even though, instead of
using the concept of perfection, Spinoza in 1p16 operates with
the concept of infinity, I believe Steinberg is right in seeing
the demonstration as being built on God’s perfection.xxiii In
1p8s1, Spinoza says that
being finite is really, in part, a negation, and being
infinite is an absolute affirmation of the existence of
some nature.
What this says is that infinity is not consistent with negation
and it is plausible that an attribute which is not perfect is
affected by negation—such an attribute is not fully expressed by
its modes. The idea that an infinite attribute involves no
negation is also present in the explication of the definition of
God. The definition with its explication goes as follows:
1d6 By God I understand a being absolutely infinite,
i.e., a substance consisting of an infinity of
attributes, of which each one expresses an eternal and
infinite essence.
Exp.: I say absolutely infinite, not infinite in its own
kind; for if something is only infinite in its own kind,
we can deny infinite attributes of it; but if something
is absolutely infinite, whatever expresses essence and
involves no negation pertains to its essence.
In the explication, Spinoza claims that any attribute that
expresses an essence of an absolutely infinite being (i.e. God)
must be such that it involves no negation. Now, an actual
attribute with an unrealized possible mode would involve
negation, and would, therefore, be finite.
Steinberg’s idea forces to take a new look at Spinoza’s proof of
the existence of God. If the actualization of every possible mode
is a necessary conceptual condition of the existence of God, then,
if in trying to prove the existence of God, Spinoza fails to prove
that all possible modes gain actuality, he also fails to show that
God exists. However, Steinberg does not attempt to show why
Spinoza’s all-attribute substance must be perfect, or infinite,
in the sense that guarantees the actualization of all possible
modes. So let us look at Spinoza’s “ontological” argument from
that viewpoint.
Spinoza's proof for the existence of God can be seen to go as
follows:
(1) Every possible substance exists by necessity. 1p7.
(2) Any substance is necessarily infinite in all its
attributes.1p8.(3) A substance consisting of all
attributes is possible.1p10.
(4) God, i.e. a substance consisting of all attributes
of which each is infinite, is possible.(from 2,3).
(5)God exists by necessity.
Thus, it is the second premise that interests us.xxiv,xxv
4.2. The proof that any substance is infinite in its attributes
Spinoza proves the infinity of attributes, or the infinity of one
attribute substances, in 1p8d.xxvi The proof goes as follows:
A substance of one attribute does not exist unless it
is unique (P5), and it pertains to its nature to exist
(P7). Of its nature, therefore, it will exist either as
finite or as infinite. But not as finite. For then (by
D2) it would have to be limited by something else of the
same nature, which would also have to exist necessarily
(by P7), and so there would be two substances of the same
attribute, which is absurd (by P5). Therefore, it exists
as infinite, q.e.d.
In 1p8d, the infinity of substances is reached from their
necessary uniqueness in all their attributes. The definition of
finitude in 1d2,
[t]hat thing is said to be finite in its own kind that
can be limited by another of the same nature[,]
requires that for a substance possibility of finite existence
leads to the existence of some other substance with an identical
attribute.xxvii But because one of Spinoza’s fundamental views is
the ‘no shared attribute’ thesis, stated in 1p5, according to
which two substances cannot share an attribute, the assumption
that there is a substance finite in any of its attributes
generates a contradiction in his system.xxviii
Spinoza’s argument for the infinity of attributes, proves their
perfection or fullness, if it can be shown that a substance of
attribute A is finite in A (in the sense of finitude given by
definition 1d2), if it lacks a possible mode of A.xxix At first
sight, it seems rather easy to give such a proof: Suppose
substance x is not perfect in A. This means that there is a
possible mode m of A that is not in x. m, because it is a mode
of A, must be conceived through a substance of attribute A.xxx
Thus, the actual substance of attribute A can be conceived to be
limited by another substance of that same attribute.xxxi This
means that the actual substance is finite in its attribute A in
the sense of finitude given by 1d2. Thus, the supposition, that
an attribute is not perfect, entails that such an attribute is
finite in the sense of 1d2. But because in 1p8 such finitude is
shown to be impossible it follows that any attribute must be
perfect.
Basically, Spinoza’s demonstration of the perfection of any
attribute is astonishingly simple. If an attribute were not
perfect, i.e. if not all modes conceivable through that attribute
were not in it, another substance of that same attribute would
be conceivable. But because each substance exists by necessity,
this other substance should exist, too. Thus, there should be two
substances of the same attribute which, by 1p5, is impossible.
In Spinoza’s system, then, the infinity of attributes guarantees
their perfection which explains why Spinoza sees 1p16d as
entailing necessitarianism. There cannot, then, be any
conceivable alternative systems of finite modes: if there were,
each such system would require its own necessarily existing
substance.xxxii
However, Spinoza’s argument for the perfection of attributes
seems open to the following natural objection: “The argument
presupposes that the idea of a merely possible mode of an
attribute invokes the possibility of another substance of that
same attribute. However, it is hard to understand why that should
hold. It is true that modes are conceived through substances, but
why can’t it be that a merely possible mode is conceived through
the actual substance? Why can’t it be the case that the idea of
a merely possible mode represents the actual substance as if that
mode were in it. It is not difficult to think of individuals as
having properties they do not have.”
The objection just presented is based on the idea that it makes
sense to speak of contingent properties of a substance. I call
this view contingentism. Now, even though contingentism may have
some prima facie plausibility, it has difficulties. The opposing
view, that has been called superessentialism, is what Spinoza’s
proof of the infinity of substances in their attributes requires.
Superessentialism is the thesis that all properties of a thing
are necessary to it, in the sense that if x has F at time t, then
it is not possible that x exists without having F at t. xxxiii,xxxiv
Thus, if there are possible but non-actual modes, then, in
superessentialism, there must be possible but non-actual
substances, too. If a possible mode m is not in the actual
substance, then another substance having m must be possible.xxxv
Even though superessentialism may seem at first sight a bit odd,
there are respectable philosophical reasons for holding it.
Superessentialism has been traditionally attributed to Leibniz
and in contemporary philosophy a position that closely resembles
but is not identical with superessentialism has been advocated
by David Lewis (1986).xxxvi
Leibniz seems to reach superessentialism from the principle of
sufficient reason. In a well-known passage, Leibniz (1967 [1686],
59-60) writes to Arnauld as follows:
if, in the life of some person and even in this entire
universe something were to proceed in a different way
from what it does, nothing would prevent us from saying
that it would be another person or another possible
universe that God would have had chosen. It would thus
truly be another individual.
If it is supposed that a thing could be have been differently
modified, then we must give some reason for our decision to treat
the individual in that counterfactual situation identical with
the actual individual. But Leibniz holds that there is no such
reason. What, then, could be a reason for holding an individual
in a counterfactual situation identical with the actual
individual? Leibniz endorses the view that if two substances
share all their properties, they are identical, and according to
Benson Mates (1986, 140-41), Leibniz seems to think here that the
only reason for calling substances identical is that they share
all their properties. Thus, what Leibniz has to think is that the
individual in the counterfactual situation does not share all its
properties with the actual individual. And, of course, that seems
to be a natural claim, because the individual in the
counterfactual situation is supposed to differ from the actual
individual.
Because Spinoza accepted both the principle of sufficient reason
and the identitatis indiscernibilium –principle, the argument
given by Leibniz was available for him, too.xxxvii However, it
seems that this argument may fail from being valid. The problem
is that it seems that the counterfactual claims can be seen to
be about the actual individuals. For example, the proposition
Socrates could have been non-snubnosed
does not say anything about any individual distinct from the
actual Socrates. The question, whether the non-snubnosed
Socrates is identical with the actual Socrates, makes sense only
if the existence of the non-snubnosed Socrates is taken for
granted. For that reason, Leibniz’s view may seem a bit question
begging.
However, even though the argument for superessentialism that is
based on the combination of the principle of sufficient reason
and the identity of indiscernibles may be flawed, the opening
propositions of the Ethics offer a better basis for
superessentialism. According to Spinoza, as has already been
stated in section 1.1., substances, unlike modes, are causally
independent. Spinoza proves their causal independence in 1p6 and
in its corollary. In 1p6, Spinoza argues that a substance cannot
be produced by another substance, and, in the corollary to this
proposition, he concludes that substances cannot be produced by
anything else. The argument for the position that substances
cannot be produced by anything else is simple. If a substance were
caused by something else, then, by 1a4, the idea of the substance
would involve the idea of its cause. However, this would violate
the conceptual independence of substances (see 1d3). It is also
easy to show that Spinoza’s basic views precludes there being any
interaction between distinct substances: suppose a mode m of
substance s were caused by a mode m’ of another substance. Because
by 1p5, two substances cannot share an attribute, it follows that
m and m’ must be modes of different attributes. Now, the
assumption that m’ causes m requires, by 1a3, that m is conceived
through m’. However, Spinoza believes that modes of different
attributes cannot be conceived through each other. Thus, the
assumption that a mode of a substance were caused by a mode of
some other substance leads to a contradiction.
The belief in contingent properties is, I believe, founded on the
assumption that the properties of substances can be divided to
those that somehow follow from the nature of the substance and
to those that somehow depend on their interaction with other
things. The properties a thing has as a result of its interaction
with other things depend on how the thing happens to be related
to other things: they are properties without which the thing,
considered in itself, can exist. But when a thing is seen as
causally closed, the naturalness of the distinction between
contingent and necessary properties vanishes. None of the
properties such a thing has depends on how it is related to other
things, and this comes close to saying that all the properties
a thing has are necessary to it.
Moreover, because Spinoza adhered to the principle of sufficient
reason, ‘x could be different’, requires a specification of the
circumstances in which x would have been different. Thus,
x could be different
should be treated as a causal conditional:
x would have been different, if ___.
However, it seems that when x is a causally isolated individual,
there is no way how to fill the blank in the antecedent. If it
is supposed that a substance which now is in state M, could be
in a different state M’ because if it had been previously been
in state N’ it would be now in M’, then the causal history of the
substance should have been totally different. But the principle
of sufficient reason requires that there must be a reason for this
total difference. However, because the substance is assumed to
be causally isolated, the reason for this total difference cannot
lie in its relation to other things but must lie in its inner
nature.xxxviii,xxxix
4.3. Alternative possible series of modes
In my interpretation, Spinoza’s argument for necessitarianism
and hence for the impossibility of apparently possible
alternative mode systems boils down to this. If besides the actual
system of modes another alternative system were possible or
conceivable, there should be, in addition to the actual
substance, another substance. But Spinoza’s monism excludes such
a possibility.
From the viewpoint of the present interpretation, the question,
“why of the several internally consistent series of finite modes
the actual series obtains?” contains a false presupposition. In
the interpretation offered, it is argued that there are no such
alternative series. If there were, substances realizing those
series should exist; or as Spinoza himself puts the point in
1p33d:
if things could have been of another nature, or could
have been determined to produce an effect in another
way, so that the order of nature was different, then
God's nature could also have been other than it is now,
and therefore (by P11) that other nature would also have
had to exist, and consequently, there could have been
two or more Gods, which is absurd (by P14C1).
What is being claimed here is that the assumption of there being
alternative internally consistent series of modes leads in
Spinoza’s system to the absurdity that there are several
substances or Gods, and I believe that my interpretation fits with
this demonstration.
It seems to me that those interpreters who feel that the problem
of apparently possible alternative series of modes poses a
serious threat to viewing Spinoza as a necessitarian see the
situation in the following way: It is plausible to assume that
there are several incompossible total ways things could have
been. These total ways, or possible worlds, are somehow parallel
in the logical space and one of them happens to enjoy the privilege
of being actual. In this picture, the question that immediately
suggests itself is why this rather than some other possible world
is actual. It seems that the actual world conceived merely as one
of the numerous possible worlds must have an intrinsic feature
on the basis of which it trumps the competing worlds. For example,
it might be suggested that the world that wins the title of
actuality is the most perfect of all the alternatives.
However, there are problems in the picture just sketched. That
there are several incompossible possible worlds and that one of
them gains actuality because of its intrinsic features may make
sense, say in Leibniz’s metaphysics, where a transcendent God
stands behind these possibilities and selects one of them because
its goodness surpasses the goodness of its alternatives.xl
However, if there is no agent-like character selecting from these
possible worlds, it seems inconceivable why one rather than some
other should exist. In the traditional account, the intrinsic
goodness of a possibility may have effects on what there exists
by being loved and by moving the will of the one who loves it.
However, because in Spinoza’s world there is no room for such a
creator, it seems that if he is committed to alternative worlds,
he cannot give any answer to the question why this rather than
some other world, or, indeed, why any world of finite things at
all.
But as I understand Spinoza’s modal thinking, the picture of
parallel incompossible total ways things could be is not where
to start from. We do not have at our disposal several alternative
worlds but one actual world, and that there should be alternatives
to it is not something that is natural or self-evident. The
question, why this rather than some other world, is discharged
if it can be shown that there are no alternatives to it, and my
interpretation of Spinoza’s argument for necessitarianism gives
a way to understand why apparent alternative possible worlds are
merely apparent.xli
One important question about necessitarianism is the overall
plausibility of such a position. Bennett (1984,14) claims that
necessitarianism is implausible because it is hard to do good
philosophy in the framework of necessitarianism and that many of
Spinoza’s philosophical moves presuppose contingency. I believe
that Garrett (1991) has shown that at least the arguments in which
Spinoza appears to draw on contingency can be interpreted as not
relying on it.
The remaining question about the plausibility of
necessitarianism is divisible into two subquestions: (i) Spinoza
reaches necessitarianism on a priori grounds without appealing
to experience. Thus, necessitarianism is a doctrine of the
intellect which raises the question about the consistency of
necessitarianism with experience. (ii) A sufficient criterion
for the possibility of a mode is that its definition does not
involve a contradiction. However, it seems evident that not all
definitions of possible but non-actual modes are contradictory.
Is Spinoza’s necessitarianism, then, inconsistent with our modal
intuitions?
At first sight, it seems that the first question is rather easy
to answer from Spinoza’s perspective. If reason and experience
are in conflict, it is reason that should win. However, this
answer seems a bit biased and it is not at all clear that Spinoza’s
attitude to the evidence of the senses is so dismissive. A better
answer goes as follows: experience does not reveal the modality
of a state of affairs, it just tells whether something exists or
not—a point that was later emphasized by Leibniz (1996, 79-80)
and Kant (1787, B4). Thus, it is the intellect, not the senses,
that attaches a modality to a state of affairs. But what this seems
to tell is that in modal matters there cannot be any conflict
between intellect and experience. Now, maybe someone might grant
that in modal matters there can be no conflict between outer
experience and the intellect but claim that such a conflict may
exist between the modal sensitive inner experience and the
intellect. One of the strongest arguments for an indeterministic
and eo ipso for a non-necessitarian position is that in acting
we, at least sometimes, are directly aware that we could have done
otherwise. Spinoza deals with this problem in 3p2s. He argues that
direct awareness of freedom cannot justify belief in freedom to
do otherwise, because sometimes experience tells that this
awareness of freedom is illusory. We grant that there are cases
when we thought we were acting freely, even though we are now
convinced that something made us to do what we now repent. Thus,
Spinoza argues, it is not contrary to experience to hold that
there are always such causes, and that the illusory experience
of freedom to do otherwise has its root in the ignorance of those
causes.
The second question may appear a bit more difficult. It seems that
in a contradictory definition of a mode, the mode is defined with
the help of contradictory properties, as in the definition of a
square circle. But it seems evident that not all definitions of
modes that never gain actuality, for example Immanuel Kant’s
dining in Paris, involve such a contradiction. However, in 1d4
Spinoza commits himself to the view that modes are conceptually
dependent on substances which suggests that the definition of a
mode implies a contradiction if the assumption of the existence
of a substance through which it should be conceived implies a
contradiction. But if my interpretation of Spinoza’s argument for
necessitarianism is correct, all definitions of modes that never
gain actuality imply a contradiction. A possible but unactual
mode requires the existence of a substance distinct from God,
which is inconsistent with Spinoza’s monism.xlii Here the question
about the plausibility of necessitarianism cannot be detached
from the plausibility of the argument given for its support.
It may, finally, be pointed out that in 2a1 as well as in 2p8
Spinoza commits himself to the existence of ideas of non-existent
individuals. Now, this may be seen as being evidence for there
being ideas of non-existent alternative series of modes. Thus,
the present interpretation which assumes that there are no
internally consistent alternatives to the actual series must be
wrong. I have considered 2a1 and 2p8 in detail elsewhere.xliii My
view is that by 2p8 Spinoza does not want to say that there are,
in God, ideas of things that never exist. Rather, what he is trying
to show in 2p8 is how there can be ideas of things, that do not
exist now but will exist in the future or have existed in the past.
That Spinoza felt it necessary to give an explanation of ideas
about future and past individuals was natural because in 2p7
Spinoza expressed his belief in the parallelism between ideas and
their objects and because such parallelism seems to make
reference to future as well as past individuals impossible. 2a1
does not require that there are ideas of possibilities that never
gain actuality. What 2a1 says is, I believe, in accordance with
its being the case that a thing exists by necessity when it exists.
CONCLUSION
In the interpretation proposed, Spinoza's necessitarianism is
premised on the following principles:
(A) superessentialism;
(B) the necessary existence of substance;
(C) substance-property ontology;
(D) the ‘no shared attribute’ thesis.
That their conjunction entails necessitarianism was proven as
follows: In a substance-property ontology (C), the assumption
that the actual world is not the only possible world is true if
and only if (i) some substance could have failed to exist or (ii)
there is a possible but unactualized property. Now, the first
disjunct, (i), is impossible because of the necessary existence
of substances (B). The second disjunct, (ii), cannot hold,
because it follows from superessentialism (A) that the possible
but unactualized property requires its own substance which by (B)
should exist. But because (B) also guarantees that all possible
attributes are exemplified, this new substance should share an
attribute with some of the existing substances which is denied
by (D). There is no doubt that Spinoza accepted (B), (C) and (D).
That Spinoza accepted (A) is, of course, a bit more problematic,
but it seems to be well-grounded in the view that substances must
be causally isolated.
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Translated by E.M. Curley. Princeton: Princeton
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Ethics. In The Collected Works of Spinoza, vol. I.
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vol. I.
Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect. In The
Collected Works of Spinoza, vol. 1.
Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy. In The
Collected Works of Spinoza, vol.1.
Metaphysical Thoughts (Appendix to Descartes’
Principles of Philosophy).
The Letters. Translated by Samuel Shirley.
Introduction and notes by Steven Barbone, Lee
Rice, and Jacob Adler. Indianapolis: Hackett,1995.
Adams, R.M. 1994. Leibniz: Determinist, Theist,
Idealist. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bennett, J. 1984. A Study of Spinoza's Ethics.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Blumenfeld, D. 1973. ‘Leibniz’s Theory of the
Striving Possibles’. Studia Leibnitiana, 5, 163177.
Carriero, J. 1991. ‘Spinoza’s Views on Necessity in
Historical Perspective’. Philosophical Topics, 19,
47-96.
Carriero, J. 1995. 'On the Relationship Between Mode
and Substance in Spinoza's Metaphysics'. Journal
of the History of Philosophy, 33, 245-273.
Curley, E. M. 1969. Spinoza's Metaphysics: An Essay
in Interpretation. Cambridge: Harvard University
Press.
Curley, E.M. 1988. Behind the Geometrical Method: A
Reading of Spinoza's Ethics. Princeton: Princeton
University Press.
Descartes, R. 1984. The Philosophical Writings of
Descartes. Translated by J. Cottingham, R.
Stoothoff and D.Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Descartes, R. Objections and Replies. In The
Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. II.
Donagan, A. 1973.'Spinoza's Proof of Immortality'.
In Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed.
Marjorie Grene, 241-258. Notre Dame,
Indiana:University of Notre Dame Press.
Garrett, D. 1991. 'Spinoza's Necessitarianism'. In
Y. Yovel(ed.):God and Nature: Spinoza's
Metaphysics. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 191-218.
Jarrett, C. 1977. 'The Concepts of Substance and
Mode in Spinoza', Philosophia 7, 1977, 83-105.
Kant, I.Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by
Werner S. Pluhar. Indinapolis: Hackett 1996.
Koistinen, O. 1991.On the Metaphysics of Spinoza's
Ethics. Doctoral dissertation. Turku.
Koistinen, O. 1998. ‘On the Consistency of Spinoza’s
Modal Theory’, The Southern Journal of Philosophy
36, 61-80.
Leibniz, G. 1996. New Essays on Human Understanding.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leibniz, G. 1967. The Leibniz-Arnauld
Correspondence.(Translation, H.T. Mason
Manchester: Manchester University
Press.)
Lewis, D.1986. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford:
Basil Blackwell.
Mates, B. 1986. The Philosophy of Leibniz. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Mondadori, F. 1985. 'Understanding
Superessentialism', Studia Leibnitiana, Heft 2,
162-190.
Steinberg, D. 1981. 'Spinoza's Theory of the
Eternity of the Mind',Canadian Journal of
Philosophy 11, 35-68.
Wilson, M. 1983. 'Infinite Understanding, Scientia
Intuitiva, and Ethics I.16', Midwest Studies in
Philosophy 8, 184-186.
ENDNOTES
i
Translations are from Curley's The Collected Works of Spinoza,
vol. 1. I have used the following method in referring to the
Ethics: the first arabic number identifies the part of the Ethics,
the letter after that specifies whether a proposition, p,
definition, d, or axiom, a, is intended. The number after these
letters tells which proposition, definition or axiom is referred
to. If these numbers are followed by letters, then s means
scholium and c corollary. For example, 1p16c1 refers to the first
corollary of the sixteenth proposition of the first part of the
Ethics.
ii
Don Garrett (1991) has convincingly argued that Spinoza is
consistently a necessitarian. See also Koistinen (1998).
iii
The expression “ ‘no shared attribute’ thesis” is used by Bennett
(1984, 66).
iv According to Spinoza, everything that there is, is in itself
or in something else (1a1). It is plausible to hold that those
things that are in something else are properties, whereas those
things that are in themselves are substances (1d3, 1d5). Edwin
Curley (1969) has argued that Spinoza should not be viewed as a
substance-property ontologist. However, Charles Jarrett (1977,
92-93) and John Carriero (1995) have argued persuasively against
Curley's interpretation. See also Koistinen (1991, 61-69).
v Spinoza states his version of the principle of sufficient
reason in 1p11d2 as follows: “For each thing there must be
assigned a cause or reason, as much for its existence as for its
nonexistence.” I have considered Spinoza's ontological argument
for the necessary existence of substances in Koistinen (1991).
vi
However, it is not quite evident that the passage from 1p17s
says that everything that there is follows by necessity from God’s
nature. If ‘everything follows from the nature of God…’ is
interpreted as saying that ‘everything that follows from the
nature of God, follows by necessity from the nature of God…’, then
1p17s is consistent with there being entities that do not follow
from the nature of God.
vii
Naturally, there are other interpretations of 1p16 which allow
contingency. Margaret Wilson (1983), for example, limits the
scope of 'everything' in 'everything that falls under the
infinite intellect' to infinite modes and to formal essences. Of
Wilson's interpretation, see Koistinen (1998, note 24).
viii
See 1p28d and 1p21.
ix
Here it might be objected that the necessary existence of W
is not required by e's necessary existence. It must also be shown
that it is essential for e to exist in W. However, this follows
directly from the conjunction of (i) Spinoza's causal axiom 1a4
according to which the knowledge of an effect depends on and
involves the knowledge of its cause; and (ii) from 1a3 where
Spinoza states that causes have necessarily the effects they
have.
x Here GII/74/6-8 refers to the page numbering of the Gebhardt
edition of the Ethics. Curley's edition involves that numbering.
xi By explanatory rationalism, Bennett (1984, 29-32) means
Spinoza’s tendency to believe that there must be an answer to
every why-question. This tendency pulls Spinoza into
necessitarianism.
xii
Bennett’s explanation of the problem of apparently possible
alternative series of modes is tempting and as evidence for his
view, he(1984, 123) cites the following passage from the
Metaphysical Thoughts (GI/266/25): “If men clearly understood
the whole order of Nature, they would find everything to be just
as necessary as the things treated in mathematics.” Spinoza also
explicitly holds that the passage just quoted is consistent with
its being so that ‘created things have no necessity of
themselves’.
Spinoza would not have understood Leibniz's reasons which
xiii
incline without necessitating.
xiv
Garrett emphasizes the importance of the problem of apparent
alternative possible series of modes. He (1991, 192)writes: “…the
question of Spinoza’s necessitarianism is largely centered on the
necessity or contingency of the total series of finite modes.”
xv
I consider Garrett’s alternative solution in footnote 38.
xvi
Garrett
(1991, 197) is in sympathy with Alan Donagan’s (1973,
248)view according to which “[Spinoza’s] idea evidently was that an
infinite substance would bring about the existence, as a finite mode,
of every intrinsically possible finite essence, unless other finite
modes made it impossible to do so. Here Spinoza anticipated Leibniz:
his infinite substance necessarily brings into existence the most
perfect intrinsically possible system of modes.”
xvii
Carriero (1991, 81) considers these problems. According to
him, Spinoza accepted both the well-orderedness assumption and
the assumption of the existence of a maximal order. However,
Carriero (ibid.) points out that these assumptions “…are not at
all trivial and, further, that they are not clearly stated in the
text, let alone articulated and defended there.”
xviii
Spinoza identifies perfection with reality in 2d6.
Of incompossible mode systems, see Donagan (1973)and Carriero
xix
(1991).
xx
An anonymous referee suggested that Spinoza’s God must produce
everything that is possible, because nothing can prevent him from
producing everything that is possible. Now, it seems that the
principle of sufficient reason is behind that suggestion: there
is no reason why God should not produce everything that is
possible; therefore God produces everything that is possible.
However, this suggestion assumes that everything that is possible
must be compossible, and an independent argument should be given
to show that.
xxi
It is assumed here that an idea can be formed of everything whose
definition does not involve a contradiction. I believe this is a
plausible assumption because it seems that conceivability is what
Spinoza needs to distinguish purely verbal beings from those whose
definition is not contradictory. See Metaphysical Thoughts (307,
GI/241).
xxii
I believe that Garrett could share the thought that the
actualization of everything that is possible follows from God’s
being perfect. However, I am not certain whether Garrett, in the
perfection based solution, would go so far as to identify ‘what
is conceivable’ with ‘what is possible’ as Steinberg seems to do.
It seems that once alternative series of modes are assumed, there
must be ideas of them. Thus, given that only one of the series
is possible, it follows that there should be in God ideas of
impossible things.
xxiii
In personal communication, Steinberg has said that in her
interpretation 1p16 alone does not entail necessitarianism.
According to Steinberg, even though 1p16 says that God has to
produce each conceivable mode of each attribute, 1p16 leaves open
the order of the series of finite modes. However, it seems to me
that if the order of finite modes were different, then there would
be different complex modes, i.e. modes that have other modes as
their parts. Thus, a different order of modes can be seen to
require a different set of modes.
xxiv
Maybe it is not quite clear why necessary infinity in all
attributes is needed in the proof. Why wouldn’t the possibility
of an all-attribute substance infinite in each of its attributes
be enough? I believe this can be answered as follows. If the
infinity of an attribute of a substance were accidental to that
attribute, an all attribute substance having at least one finite
attribute would be possible. But if that substance were possible,
it would by 1p7 have exist, and thus there would be two substances
having attributes in common. However, that is an impossibility.
Both of these substances (i.e. the substance finite in at least
one of its attributes and the absolutely infinite substance)
cannot be possible. By 1p8 Spinoza excludes the possibility of
an all-attribute substance being finite in any of its attributes,
and so makes his God a possible substance. Thus, Spinoza has to
prove the perfection of attributes before proving the existence
of God.
xxv
The plausibility of Spinoza’s necessitarianism is, in a sense,
dependent on the plausibility of his argument for the existence of God.
When the realization of everything that is possible is a conceptual
condition for the existence of God, such a position is plausible only
if the argument for the existence of God is plausible. Thus, to assess
the plausibility of Spinoza’s necessitarianism it must be evaluated
why Spinoza thought that with his ontological argument he also proved
necessitarianism.
xxvi
That Spinoza speaks of one attribute substances does not mean
that substances having more than one attribute are not infinite
or that their infinity does not follow from the considerations
of 1p8d. The point in using that locution is that in 1p8d Spinoza
is (i) proving that a substance is infinite in all its attributes
and that (ii) calling a substance infinite means nothing but that
it is infinite in all its attributes, i.e. that all its attributes
are infinite. One attribute substances have in the proof the same
function as the assumption of an arbitrary attribute of a
substance would have had.
xxvii
In the proof, Spinoza does not speak of ‘infinity in its
kind’, even though he should have because by being infinite,
Spinoza in 1p8d means what is not finite in its own kind. What
1p8 proves is, then, that any substance is infinite in all its
kinds. But because ‘the kinds’ of a substance are determined by
its attributes, 1p8d purports to show that a substance must be
infinite in all its attributes. And that can be expressed by
saying that all the attributes of a substance must be infinite.
Spinoza himself does not so much speak of an attribute being
infinite but instead speaks of an attribute expressing an eternal
and infinite essence. Thus, when I say that an attribute X is
infinite this can be seen as abbreviating Spinoza’s more
cumbersome ‘Attribute X expresses an eternal and infinite
essence’.
xxviii
More exactly, Spinoza’s proof of substance infinity can be
presented as follows:
(1) a substance s is finite in attribute A.(Reduction premise;
A is arbitrarily selected).
(2) Substance s'(distinct from s) of attribute A is conceivable.
(1, 1d2).
(3) Each conceivable substance exists by necessity. (1p7).
(4) s' with A exists by necessity. (2), (3).
(5) s and s' share an attribute. (1), (4).
(6) s and s' do not share an attribute. (From 1p5).
(7) s and s' share an attribute and s and s' do not share an
attribute. (5), (6).
(8) It is not the case that substance s is finite in its attribute
A. (1), (7).
(9) What is not finite is infinite. (Premise).
Therefore,
(10) s is infinite in A.
Here ‘perfection of the attribute of substance s’ means that
xxix
if m is a conceivable mode of attribute A, then m is in the A of
s.
xxx
See 1d3.
xxxi
This
move
presupposes
that
the
possibility
of
the
co-existence of two substances with the same attribute requires
that these substances must limit each other. It seems to me that
this is a natural requirement. Suppose x and y share attribute
A and are conceived to co-exist. Thus, it must be conceivable that
there is something beyond the A of x and beyond the A of y. And
this possibility of beyondness requires that x qua A and y qua
A are limited.
xxxii
It seems to me that in Garrett’s perfection based solution
the infinity of attributes is derived from Spinoza’s version of
the principle of sufficient reason. An attribute must be infinite
or perfect because if a possible mode of an attribute were not
in it, there should be a reason for its non-existence. Thus, any
mode system of an attribute must be maximal in the sense that no
mode can be consistently added to it, and what this means is that
any mode system of an attribute must be infinite or perfect.
However, the problem with this attempt is that it seems to leave
room for apparently possible internally consistent but
incompossible mode systems. Thus, were the infinity of attributes
derived in this way, the proof would not show that Spinoza’s
all-attribute substance is perfect in the sense of realizing
everything that is possible. The fundamental difference between
the interpretation supported in this paper and between that of
Garrett concerns the way the infinity of attributes is proved.
In the interpretation supported here and as we will soon see, the
infinity of attributes is derived from superessentialism and not
from the principle of sufficient reason or from any independent
principle of perfection.
xxxiii
Fabrizio Mondadori (1985, 164) characterizes
superessentialism in two ways which he says are equivalent:
“Modally: superessentialism is the thesis that, none of the
properties an individual i possesses is a property i could have
lacked while still existing/being i. Counterfactually:
superessentialism is the thesis that, were i to lack any of the
properties it possesses, i would not be the individual it is/the
same individual.”
xxxiv
This could also be expressed by saying that Spinoza denied
trans-world identity from substances. However, that way of
expressing Spinoza’s view may sound paradoxical, or at least
empty, because Spinoza’s view was that the actual world is the
only possible world. However, Spinoza’s proof of
necessitarianism has the form of a reductio ad absurdum
-argument. The argument could be seen to start from the assumption
that if there are several possible worlds then two substances
cannot exist in the same world. Anyone who tries to show that a
contradiction results from the assumption that there are several
possible worlds, has to face questions about
transworld-identity.
xxxv
As an anonymous referee to this journal pointed,
superessentialism seems to make a substance depend on its modes
for its existence but this appears to be in tension with (i)
substance-mode ontology in general and with (ii) with Spinoza’s
view that modes are caused by the only substance God in
particular. Is it possible that something causes that on which
its existence depends?
This question is important because in Spinoza’s definition of
substance, 1d3, substances are seen both ontologically and
causally independent. However, Carriero (1991 and 1996) has
argued that it is plausible to see Spinoza’s substance-mode
ontology as a version of the traditional substance-accident
ontology and in that ontology the priority substances have over
their accidents does not mean that a substance has to be such that
it can exist without its accidents. In traditional
substance-accident ontology there is room for necessary
accidents.
It makes sense to speak of necessary accidents because they can
be said to be outside the essence of a substance and thus not among
its constituents. I suggest that a distinction could be made
between constitutional dependence and existential dependence. If
it is not possible that x exists without y, then x is existentially
dependent on y. In traditional substance-accident ontology as
well as in Spinoza’s substance-mode ontology the ontological
priority substances have to their modes means that no substance
is not constitutionally dependent on any of its accidents.
Once space is left between the essence of a substance and its
necessary accidents, it makes sense to say that the necessary
accidents causally follow from the essence of the substance.
Indeed, and as we will later in this section see, it seems that
Spinoza’s strongest reason for superessentialism can be traced
back to his view that there cannot be intersubstantial causation.
Finally, superessentialism, as stated above, does not require
that all properties of a substance belong to its essence—only that
they are necessary had by the substance when they are had by it.
For an illuminating treatment of necessary accidents and their
relation to substance and its essence see also Garrett (1991,
201-202).
Moreover, Spinoza does not use the concept of mode in the sense
which would make all modes such that a substance could exist
without them, because in any case infinite modes are necessary
features of substances. Thus, the problem of the incapability of
a substance existing without its modes arises even when Spinoza
is not interpreted as a superessentialist.
Moreover, the version of superessentialism I am defending does
not strictly speaking require that substance necessarily has all
the modes—indeed if it did require that, all change would be
impossible, a conclusion Spinoza clearly rejects. What
superessentialism requires is that if a mode is in substance at
a given time, then it is necessary that the mode is in the
substance at that time. And as I have elsewhere (Koistinen 1998)
argued, a finite mode with its time and place can be seen to be
an infinite mode.
It should be emphasized that conceptually superessentialism and
xxxvi
necessitarianism are quite distinct. Leibniz was a superessentialist
but not a necessitarian. Basically, what superessentialism says is
nothing but that each unrealized possibility requires the possibility
of a non-existing substance.
Spinoza can be seen to accept the identitatis
xxxvii
indiscernibilium –principle in 1p4.
xxxviii
I am indebted to John Carriero for pointing me the relevance
of the principle of sufficient reason here.
xxxix
Superessentialism is sometimes seen to follow from the
conceptual containment theory of truth. According to that theory,
a predicate P is true of a thing x if and only if P is contained
in the concept of x. This theory of truth was accepted by Leibniz.
Leibniz and his correspondent Antoine Arnauld thought it to
entail the denial of transworld-identity. In fact, it seems that
Leibniz and Arnauld were right in taking the conceptual
containment theory of truth as denying the accidental properties.
It is natural to think of a concept of a thing to consist of those
features that are needed to define the thing. Now, in this
interpretation of the term 'concept', the conceptual containment
theory of truth just says that all the properties of a thing are
included in its definition. But this seems to be just another way
of saying that all the properties of a thing must be essential
to it. Mates (1972, 108) and Adams (1995, 72-74) have, however,
argued that the conceptual containment theory of truth is
consistent with an individual existing in several possible
worlds. Their point is that if world-indexed properties are
allowed, the individual concept of x could involve the properties
of being-F-in-world-w and being-not-F-in-world-w’.
Even though Spinoza did not have any clearly articulated theory
of truth, it seems that in the Treatise on the Emendation of the
Intellect he accepts the conceptual containment theory of truth.
Spinoza writes as follows: “So falsity consists only in this: that
something is affirmed of a thing that is not contained in the
concept we have formed of the thing, as motion or rest of the
semicircle.(GII/27/25-28).” In that passage Spinoza seems to be
saying that a predicate is true of a thing if and only if the
predicate is contained in the concept of the thing. It is also
instructive to see how closely Spinoza's view of truth in the
Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect resembles Leibniz's
(1967 [1686], 47) view according to which the superessentialism
is involved in the common characterization of truth: “When I say
that the individual concept of Adam contains everything that will
ever happen to him, I mean nothing other than what all
philosophers mean when they say that the predicate is present in
the subject of a true proposition.” This characterization of a
true proposition as a proposition which is such that the the
predicate is involved in the subject of the proposition is present
also in the following passage from Descartes's second set of
replies to the objections of the Meditations (AT VII, 162; CSM,
vol. II, 114): “When we say that something is contained in the
nature or concept of a thing, this is the same as saying that it
is true of that thing, or that it can be asserted of that thing.”
It is interesting to see that Leibniz attributed the conceptual
containment theory of truth both to Descartes and Spinoza:
“Spinoza reasons thus, following Descartes: It is the same to say
that something is contained in the nature or concept of some
thing, as to say that that very [predication] is true about that
thing (as it is contained in the concept of a Triangle, or follows
from its essence, that its three angles are equal to two right
angles).” (Quoted by R.M. Adams (1994, 161). Adams gives the
following reference: G.W. Leibniz, Sämtliche Schriften und
Briefe. Darmstadt and Berlin: Berlin Academy , 1923-31, II, i,
393.) Fabrizio Mondadori (1985, 164) seems to believe that in
proving 1p33 Spinoza derives his view that all properties are
necessary to God from the conceptual containment theory of truth.
I used to think so, too, but am not anymore certain of that.
xl
See David Blumenfeld (1973).
xli
Garrett’s (1991, 197) alternative solution to the problem of
apparently possible alternative causal series is that Spinoza
might have thought that the laws of the attributes are so
complicated that they are compatible with only one system of
modes. However, as he indicates there seems to be a problem about
the possible alternative systems of laws nature. Laws of nature
are for Spinoza infinite modes and therefore necessary. Now, if
the problem of the alternative series of finite modes is answered
in this way, its success is dependent on the success of the answer
to the problem about possible alternative systems of laws of
nature. Garrett (1991) does not consider why Spinoza assumes that
the actual set of laws of nature is the only completely consistent
set and characterizes that assumption as “wildly optimistic”. It
seems to me important that when Spinoza reaches his
necessitarianism in 1p16 no distinction between finite and
infinite modes has been drawn. I take this to indicate that
Spinoza proves the necessity of laws of nature, which are infinite
modes, in the same way as he proves the necessity of systems of
finite modes. In my interpretation, no prior assumptions about
the necessity of the laws of nature are needed. In fact, it seems
to me that my interpretation can be seen to show why Spinoza
thought that there is only one consistent set of laws of nature:
if another set of laws of nature were possible, then a substance
obeying those laws should be possible. But this substance should
also exist (by 1p7). Thus, there would be several substances which
is against monism. It seems to me that also this solution assumes
that there are several internally possible series of finite
modes, which seems to imply that there are in God ideas of
impossible things. However, this would mean that God cannot
create everything that is in his intellect which is against
Spinoza’s conception of
xlii
God’s omnipotence.
In Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy 271, GI/193/28-32,
Spinoza claims that the concept of the greatest speed of motion
is inconceivable and that the intellect finds a contradiction in
such a concept. I am using ‘implies a contradiction’ in the same
sense as Spinoza there uses the expression‘the intellect finds
a contradiction’ which is Curley’s translation from ‘repugnat
nostro intellectui’. The concept of the greatest speed of motion
is not contradictory in itself, but it implies a conradiction when
the assumption of such a speed is added to certain self-evident
principles.
xliii
See Koistinen (1998, 74-75).
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