Like many of his contemporaries, Hegel considered Spinoza a modern reviver of ancient Eleatic monism, in whose system “all determinate content is swallowed up as radically null and void”. This characterization of Spinoza as denying the reality of the world of finite things had a lasting influence on the perception of Spinoza in the two centuries that followed. In this article, I take these claims of Hegel to task and evaluate their validity. Although Hegel’s official argument for the unreality of (...) modes in Spinoza’s system will turn out to be unsound, I do believe there is one crucial line in Spinoza’s system – Spinoza’s rather weak and functional conception of individuality – which provides some support for Hegel’s reading of Spinoza. (shrink)
The main thesis of Michael Della Rocca’s outstanding Spinoza book (Della Rocca 2008a) is that at the very center of Spinoza’s philosophy stands the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): the stipulation that everything must be explainable or, in other words, the rejection of any brute facts. Della Rocca rightly ascribes to Spinoza a strong version of the PSR. It is not only that the actual existence and features of all things must be explicable, but even the inexistence – as well (...) as the absence of any feature of any thing – demands an explanation. Della Rocca does not stop here, however. He feeds his PSR monster with some more powerful steroids and suggests that Spinoza advocates what he terms “the twofold use of the PSR.” It is not only that everything must be explained and made intelligible, but it must ultimately be explained in terms of explainability or intelligibility itself. This twofold use of the PSR is the key to the entire book. Della Roca’s strategy throughout the book is to argue that any key feature of Spinoza’s system – be it causality, inherence, essence, consciousness, existence, rejection of teleology, goodness or political right – must be explained, and ultimately it must be explained in terms of intelligibility. “Spinoza single-mindedly digs and digs until we find that the phenomenon in question is nothing but some form of intelligibility itself, of explicability itself” (Della Rocca 2008a: 2). Della Rocca’s book came out together with a cluster of articles in which he develops in detail his new reading of Spinoza. In one of these articles, he warns the reader: “Don’t let me start” (Dell Rocca 2010: 1). The train that is about to embark leads to very bizarre terrain, and thus one should think twice before embarking on the “PSR Express.” In this paper I argue that the train was hijacked. This was a perfect crime: without anyone noticing it, the engine driver diverted the train to a new route, and as with other perfect crimes, it is none but the criminal himself who is capable of, and indeed will, bring about his own demise. As I will later argue, Della Rocca’s “PSR-on-steroids” will eventually cripple reason itself. But let us not run too fast, and start at the very beginning. I happily – or at least, so I think - board the “PSR Express.” I believe Spinoza is strongly committed to the PSR and makes very significant use of this principle, but, unlike Della Rocca, I do not think the PSR is the key to all mysteries Spinozist, nor do I believe Spinoza was committed to the reductionist program of explaining all things through intelligibility (i.e., the second use of the PSR). (shrink)
John Palmer develops and defends a modal interpretation of Parmenides, according to which he was the first philosopher to distinguish in a rigorous manner the fundamental modalities of necessary being, necessary non-being or impossibility, and non-necessary or contingent being. This book accordingly reconsiders his place in the historical development of Presocratic philosophy in light of this new interpretation. Careful treatment of Parmenides' specification of the ways of inquiry that define his metaphysical and epistemological outlook paves the way for detailed analyses (...) of his arguments demonstrating the temporal and spatial attributes of what is and cannot not be. Since the existence of this necessary being does not preclude the existence of other entities that are but need not be, Parmenides' cosmology can straightforwardly be taken as his account of the origin and operation of the world's mutable entities. Later chapters reassess the major Presocratics' relation to Parmenides in light of the modal interpretation, focusing particularly on Zeno, Melissus, Anaxagoras, and Empedocles. In the end, Parmenides' distinction among the principal modes of being, and his arguments regarding what what must be must be like, simply in virtue of its mode of being, entitle him to be seen as the founder of metaphysics or ontology as a domain of inquiry distinct from natural philosophy and theology. An appendix presents a Greek text of the fragments of Parmenides' poem with English translation and textual notes. (shrink)
The adventure of philosophy began in Greece, where it was gradually developed by the ancient thinkers as a special kind of knowledge by which to explain the totality of things. In fact, the Greek language has always used the word onta , "beings," to refer to things. At the end of the sixth century BCE, Parmenides wrote a poem to affirm his fundamental thesis upon which all philosophical systems should be based: that there are beings. In By Being, It Is (...) , Nestor-Luis Cordero explores the richness of this Parmenidean thesis, which became the cornerstone of philosophy. Cordero's textual analysis of the poem's fragments reveals that Parmenides' intention was highly didactic. His poem applied, for the first time, an explicative method that deduced consequences from a true axiom: by being, it is . To ignore this reality meant to be a victim of opinions. This volume explains how without this conceptual base, all later ontology would have been impossible. This book offers a clear and concise introduction to the Parmenidean doctrine and helps the reader appreciate the imperative value of Parmenides's claim that "by being, it is." "This thorough and controversial book will certainly be valued highly by the international community of scholars devoted to the study of ancient philosophy as well as by educated readers worldwide." --Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, Georgetown University " By Being, It Is offers a meticulous discussion of one of the most puzzling theses in the history of philosophy. It is a highly challenging piece of work from a philosophical viewpoint, an outstanding model of philological work, and a contribution that causes anyone interested in philosophical matters to reflect." --Marcelo D. Boeri, National Council for Scientific and Technological Research, Argentina "Parmenides' importance consists in the fact that he represents an absolute beginning in history, and particularly in the history of thought. We can understand why, for more than twenty years now, N.L. Cordero has devoted tremendous efforts to understanding the few verses that remain to us of this Poem. The result is the present book, characterized by its completeness and its rigor. It is an essential work on a seminal author." --Luc Brisson, National Council for Scientific Research, France. (shrink)
Parménides es uno de los pensadores más influyentes de la filosofía occidental. El presente libro ofrece una hipótesis hermenéutica que se puede resumir en dos afirmaciones esenciales: primera, Parménides, como todos los pensadores de su tiempo, era ante todo un físico o fisiólogo (como los denominó Aristóteles), cuyas inquietudes y aportaciones se expresan en la segunda parte de su poema Sobre la naturaleza. Esa parte, escasamente representada en los fragmentos conservados, exponía una teoría original que se caracterizaba por defender una (...) física dualista frente al monismo de los milesios. Segunda, Parménides, a diferencia de la mayoría de los físicos, tomó conciencia por primera vez de la necesidad de explicar, no solo el orden de la naturaleza (physis) y las leyes que la rigen (tarea de los físicos), sino también el orden y las leyes del mundo del discurso (logos), de la teoría que trata de explicar el mundo. A esta segunda tarea, que sin duda puede ser calificada como el descubrimiento de la lógica, dedicó la primera parte de su Poema a modo de un discurso del método y no de una anacrónica especulación metafísica. (shrink)
The Eleatic Principle or causal criterion is a causal test that entities must pass in order to gain admission to some philosophers’ ontology.1 This principle justifies belief in only those entities to which causal power can be attributed, that is, to those entities which can bring about changes in the world. The idea of such a test is rather important in modern ontology, since it is neither without intuitive appeal nor without influential supporters. Its supporters have included David Armstrong (1978, (...) Vol 2, 5), Brian Ellis (1990, 22) and Hartry Field2 (1989, 68) to name but a few. (shrink)
There is a tradition according to which Parmenides of Elea endorsed the following set of counterintuitive doctrines: (a) There exists exactly one material thing. (b) What exists does not change. (g) Nothing is generated or destroyed. (d) What exists is undivided. For convenience, I will use the label ‘Eleatic monism’ to refer to the conjunction of a–d.
“Why did God create the World?” is one of the traditional questions of theology. In the twentieth century this question was rephrased in a secularized manner as “Why is there something rather than nothing?” While creation - at least in its traditional, temporal, sense - has little place in Spinoza’s system, a variant of the same questions puts Spinoza’s system under significant pressure. According to Spinoza, God, or the substance, has infinitely many modes. This infinity of modes follow from the (...) essence of God. If we ask: “Why must God have modes?,” we seem to be trapped in a real catch. On the one hand, Spinoza’s commitment to thoroughgoing rationalism demands that there must be a reason for the existence of the radical plurality of modes. On the other hand, the asymmetric dependence of modes on the substance seems to imply that the substance does not need the modes, and that it can exist without the modes. But if the substance does not need the modes, then why are there modes at all? Furthermore, Spinoza cannot explain the existence of modes as an arbitrary act of grace on God’s side since Spinoza’s God does not act arbitrarily. Surprisingly, this problem has hardly been addressed in the existing literature on Spinoza’s metaphysics, and it is my primary aim here to draw attention to this problem. In the first part of the paper I will present and explain the problem of justifying the existence of infinite plurality modes in Spinoza’s system. In the second part of the paper I consider the radical solution to the problem according to which modes do not really exist, and show that this solution must be rejected upon consideration. In the third and final part of the paper I will suggest my own solution according to which the essence of God is active and it is this feature of God’s essence which requires the flow of modes from God’s essence. I also suggest that Spinoza considered radical infinity and radical unity to be roughly the same, and that the absolute infinity of what follow from God’s essence is grounded in the absolute infinity of God’s essence itself. (shrink)
It’s well known that one way to cure a hangover is by a “hair of the dog” — another alcoholic drink. The drawback of this method is that, so it would appear, it cannot be used to completely cure a hangover, since the cure simply induces a further hangover at a later time, which must in turn either be cured or suffered through.
: Given Descartes's conception of extension, space and body, there are deep problems about how there can be any real motion. The argument here is that in fact Descartes takes motion to be only phenomenal. The paper sets out the problems generated by taking motion to be real, the solution to them found in the Cartesian texts, and an explanation of those texts in which Descartes appears on the contrary to regard motion as real.
A novel way of making a non-stick frying pan using a topologically open surface is described. While the article has a slight humorous element to it, it is also intended to contain some serious philosophical points concerning the nature of infinitely divisible matter and the kind of contact that must occur between objects in order for them to interact.
I present a formal ontological theory where the basic building blocks of the world can be either things or events. In any case, the result is a Parmenidean worldview where change is not a global property. What we understand by change manifests as asymmetries in the pattern of the world-lines that constitute 4-dimensional existents. I maintain that such a view is in accord with current scientific knowledge.