Suicide or self-destruction means in ordinary language “the act of killing oneself deliberately” (intentionally or on purpose). Indeed, that’s what we read in the Oxford dictionary and the Oxford dictionary of philosophy , which seems to be confirmed by the etymology of the term “suicide”, a term introduced around mid-17th century deduced from the modern Latin suicidium, ‘act of suicide’. Traditionally, suicide was regarded as immoral, irreligious and illegal in Western culture. However, during the 17th century this Christian view started (...) to change as a consequence of the rise of modern science . Generally speaking, Spinoza does not write much on death. His name does even not occur in the Oxford Philosophy of Death, although he had had very particular ideas on the nature of death. However, he even had much more particular ideas on suicide. Moreover, he states in the fourth proposition of the third part of his masterpiece, the Ethics, that self-destruction is simply impossible: Nulla res, nisi à causâ externâ, potest destrui. (shrink)
People attribute resistance to bodies in Spinoza's physics. It's not always clear what they mean when they do this, or whether they are entitled to. This article clarifies what it would mean, and examines the evidence for attributing resistance. The verdict: there's some evidence, but not nearly as much as people think.
Ce travail s'attache à montrer qu'il existe, chez Spinoza, une critique de l'atomisme dont les enjeux sont aussi bien théoriques que pratiques, et qui joue un rôle décisif dans la redéfinition du rapport entre les choses singulières comme un "concours" entre les "parties de la nature".
This essay considers Spinoza’s responses to two questions: what is responsible for the variety in the physical world and by what mechanism do finite bodies causally interact? I begin by elucidating Spinoza’s solution to the problem of variety by considering his comments on Cartesian physics in an epistolary exchange with Tschirnhaus late in Spinoza’s life. I go on to reconstruct Spinoza’s unique account of causation among finite bodies by considering Leibniz’s attack on the Spinozist explanation of variety. It turns out (...) that Spinoza’s explanations of the variety of bodies, on the one hand, and of causation among finite bodies, on the other, generate a tension in his system that can only be resolved by taking Spinoza to employ two notions of “existence.” I conclude by offering evidence that this is in fact what Spinoza does. (shrink)
This study explores several arguments against Spinoza's philosophy that were developed by Henry More, Samuel Clarke, and Colin Maclaurin. In the arguments on which I focus, More, Clarke, and Maclaurin aim to establish the existence of an immaterial and intelligent God precisely by showing that Spinoza does not have the resources to adequately explain the origin of motion. Attending to these criticisms grants us a deeper appreciation for how the authority derived from the empirical success of Newton's enterprise was used (...) to settle debates within philosophy. What I emphasize is that in the progression from More to Clarke to Maclaurin, key Newtonian concepts from the Principia (1687), such as motion, atomism, and the vacuum, are introduced and exploited in order to challenge the account of matter and motion that is presented in Spinoza's Ethics (1677). Building on this treatment, I use the arguments from More and Clarke especially to help discern the anti-Spinozism that can be detected in Newton's General Scholium (1713). Ultimately, the Newtonian criticisms that I detail offer us a more nuanced view of the problems that plague Spinoza's philosophy, and they also challenge the idea that Spinoza seamlessly fits into a progressive narrative about the scientific revolution. (shrink)
In this paper I offer three main challenges to James (2011). All three turn on the nature of philosophy and secure knowledge in Spinoza. First, I criticize James's account of the epistemic role that experience plays in securing adequate ideas for Spinoza. In doing so I criticize her treatment of what is known as the ‘conatus doctrine’ in Spinoza in order to challenge her picture of the relationship between true religion and philosophy. Second, this leads me into a criticism of (...) her account of the nature of philosophy in Spinoza. I argue it is less piecemeal and less akin to what we would recognize as ‘science’ than she suggests. Third, I argue against James's core commitment that Spinoza's three kinds of knowledge differ in degree; I claim they differ in kind. My argument will offer a new interpretation of Spinoza's conception of ‘common notions’. Moreover, I argue that Spinozistic adequate knowledge involves something akin to angelic disembodiment. (shrink)
In this essay, the author sets out the question: where bodies move according to Spinoza's physical thought? The question is linked to another one Oldenberg asked him then, about how objects acquire their unique individuality and the way nature behaves as a unit, despite the complexity of its constitution. The response refers not only to Spinoza's criticism to Cartesian mechanics, as usual, but will appeal to Spinoza's own interpretation, consistent with his system, about the constitution and dynamics of the physical (...) world, in terms of a mechanic interaction between bodies, firm enough to accomplish the task for which it was designed. (shrink)
: Spinoza claims that God is extended and corporeal, but he resists identifying God with the extended, corporeal world. How then are we to understand the relation of God to the physical world? This essay first critically examines interpretations offered by Schmaltz and Woolhouse which claim that Spinoza's God is not actually extended, but a nonextended essence of extension. It is then suggested that Spinoza's God can be understood as something akin to (a modified version of) scholastic prime matter. On (...) this view, Spinoza's God is actually extended, but cannot be identified with the corporeal world, which is changeable and variegated in a way that prime matter is not. (shrink)
Warren Montag’s book is a fine analysis of the ways in which Spinoza’s materialism, as it was formulated in The Ethics, affects his political theory. Even though Montag’s analysis is historical, and sensitive to the theoretical and political context of Spinoza’s thinking, it also takes decisively into account contemporary political theories and so works to frame the context within which Montag himself thinks. Constantly referring to Louis Althusser’s remarks about the connection between Spinoza’s philosophy and the former’s theory of ideology, (...) as well as to Antonio Negri’s, Etienne Balibar’s, and Pierre Macherey’s readings of Spinoza, Montag formulates the core problem of his analysis by means of the following theses: “There can be no liberation of the mind without a liberation of the body”; and “There can be no liberation of the individual without collective liberation”. (shrink)
This paper paper will examine some very different positions that Leibniz held or explored on monism, force, and substance during his long philosophical life. For reasons to be explained, positions drawn from Leibniz’s youth as well as his maturity will be considered. It will prove useful to consider these Leibnizian positions on these issues in relation to some of the leading alternatives of his age, in particular, those of Descartes, Spinoza and Malebranche. A guiding idea of this paper is that (...) by meditating seriously on some key ideas explored by Leibniz on our topics, one can gain new insight into the philosophical options of his era. A few introductory remarks on Descartes, followed by an overview of the main divisions and aims of the present paper, will help set the stage for these Leibnizian meditations. (shrink)
Spinoza said that the only extended substance is the whole extended world and that finite bodies are not substances, i.e. are not worthy of a thing-like status in a fundamental metaphysics. He had reasons for this doctrine, though they do not occur in his official ‘demonstration’ that there is only one substance (Ethics 1, proposition 14). One reason was the view that an ultimately thing-like status cannot be accorded to something that is divisible. That was certainly Leibniz’s view, and there (...) are textual grounds for attributing it to Spinoza also, though the evidence for that is somewhat diffuse. But there is also an argument that occurs in a localized manner, in a passage I shall quote below; and my purpose in this paper is to expound it. (shrink)
Traditionally, the so-called ‘redintegration experiment’ is at the center of the comments on the supposed Boyle/Spinoza correspondence. A. Clericuzio argued (refuting the interpretation by R.A. & M.B. Hall) in his influential publications that, in De nitro, Boyle accounted for the ‘redintegration’ of saltpeter on the grounds of the chemical properties of corpuscles and did not make any attempt to deduce them from the mechanical principles. By contrast, this paper claims that with his De nitro Boyle wanted to illustrate and promote (...) precisely his new Corpuscular or Mechanical Philosophy, and that he did significant attempts to explain the phenomena in terms of mechanical qualities. Boyle had borrowed the ‘redintegration experiment’ from R. Glauber and used it as a tool to prove that his philosophy was the right alternative for the Peripatetic and Paracelsian theory of qualities of bodies. Consequently, Clericuzio’s characterization of the Boyle/Spinoza controversy as a discussion between a strict mechanical philosopher and a chemist is problematic and should be revised. (shrink)