The entry on striving (conatus) for the Cambridge Spinoza Lexicon, edited by Karolina Hübner and Justin Steinberg. This is the second (September 2022) draft; please do not quote, but comments are very welcome.
The so-called “analytical” appendix to the first part of Spinoza’s Ethics has at times puzzled scholars. It notably breaks with the geometrical method adopted in most of the text, and includes an impassioned argument against teleology, popular morality, and, ultimately, the faculty of imagination. In this essay I seek to resolve this interpretive difficulty by side-by-side comparison with philosophical resources from one of Spinoza’s main influences. In particular, I argue that analysis of the appendix to the first part of his (...) Ethics is benefitted by comparison with certain Maimonidean arguments regarding the “imagination”—themselves part of a long tradition of debate on the powers of the imaginative faculty in ancient and medieval philosophy—contained in The Guide of the Perplexed. I introduce and trace this connection across both texts. This helps us to better appreciate both the appendix and its place within the Ethics and Spinoza’s sustained, complicated relationship with Medieval Judaism’s greatest thinker. (shrink)
In this article I examine how the teleological reading of Spinoza’s conatus shapes the ethical trajectory of his philosophy. I first introduce the Spinozistic criticism of teleology and argue contra many critics that Spinoza has a mild approach to human teleology. On the basis of this idea, I develop the claim that conatus is a teleological element pertaining to human nature. From the teleological reading of conatus, I draw the conclusion that Spinozistic ethics is inclusive of objective, humanistic, and essentialist (...) elements. In this sense, this paper emerges to be a challenge against the anti-teleological reading of conatus that is predominantly related to the subjectivistic, anti-humanistic, and non-essentialist interpretation of Spinoza’s ethics. It mainly situates Spinoza in a traditionally teleological context where the human conatus is seen as an act of pursuing objective and essential moral ends that is distinctive to human nature. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to investigate Hegel’s relation to Spinoza’s account of teleology by discussing Spinoza and Hegel’s stance to two straightforward objections against teleological views of reality: the anthropomorphism objection and the backward causation objection. I show that both argue against a teleological account that would be committed to the anthropomorphism objection by raising the same argument: such a divine intelligence would lack what it desires to realize. I then argue that their dealing with the backward causation (...) objection differs. Whereas Spinoza finds the backward causation objection against natural purposiveness to be valid, Hegel uses this objection to build his own case: natural purposiveness obtains to a different aspect of reality than effective causality. In contrast, Spinoza defends the backward causation objection because he believes there is only one fundamental principle that reality is subject to. Not only has the issue of Spinoza and Hegel’s relationship on teleology been neglected, I also argue that such a discussion can prove illuminating with respect to Hegel’s stance to monism, as, in contrast to Spinoza, Hegel must assume that there are different fundamental principles governing reality and not merely one. (shrink)
It is often noted that Spinoza’s conception of striving (conatus) reflects the influence of Hobbes. While this is undoubtedly true, in this chapter I explore how an important difference in how Hobbes and Spinoza understand “striving” drives a wedge between them, resulting in remarkably different views of goodness, happiness, liberty, and the function of the state.
이 글에서 나는 스피노자가 목적론 일반을 거부한 것이 아니라 신에 대해서만 목적론을 거부하고 있으며 인간에 대해서는 목적론적 설명의 일종인 숙고적 목적론을 옹호하고 있 다는 것을 논증했다. 또한 인간에 대한 목적론적 설명이 일관되게 적용될 수 없다는 베넷 의 주장과는 반대로, 목적론적 설명은 기계론이나 인과적 결정론과 양립가능하며 그의 욕 망 개념은 목적론적으로 해석될 수 있음을 보여주었다. 뿐만 아니라 표상적 내용이 인과적 으로 무력하기 때문에 행위의 동기가 될 수 없다는 베넷의 주장은 스피노자의 철학에 대한 오해에 기반한 것임을 보여주었다.
This volume explores the intuitive yet puzzling concept of teleology as it has been treated by philosophers from the time of Plato and Aristotle to the present day. Philosophical discussions are enlivened and contextualized by reflections on the implications of teleology in medicine, art, poetry, and music.
Medieval and early modern Jewish philosophers developed their thinking in conversation with various bodies of literature. The influence of ancient Greek – primarily Aristotle (and pseudo-Aristotle) – and Arabic sources was fundamental for the very constitution of medieval Jewish philosophical discourse. Toward the late Middle Ages Jewish philosophers also established a critical dialogue with Christian scholastics. Next to these philosophical corpora, Jewish philosophers drew significantly upon Rabbinic sources (Talmud and the numerous Midrashim) and the Hebrew Bible. In order to clarify (...) the unique as well as shared elements in the thought of medieval Jewish philosophers, we will begin this chapter with a brief study of some early Rabbinic sources on the purpose of the world, i.e., why it came to be and why it is sustained in existence. In the second part of this chapter, we will study Maimonides’ critique of the veracity and usefulness of the belief in (anthropocentric) teleology, and the critical reception of his views by later philosophers. The third part will address discussions of divine teleology in Kabbalistic literature. Our exposition will concentrate mostly on a specific early-eighteenth-century text that is one of the most lucid and rigorous presentations of Lurianic Kabbalah. The fourth and final section will elucidate Spinoza’s critique of teleology, its precise target and scope, and its debt to earlier sources discussed in this chapter. (shrink)
In Spinoza’s metaphysics, we encounter many puzzling doctrines that appear to entangle metaphysical notions with cognitive, logical, and epistemic ones. According to him, a substance is that which can be conceived through itself and a mode is that which is conceived through another. Thus, metaphysical notions, substance and mode, are defined through a notion that is either cognitive or logical, being conceived through. He defines an attribute as that which an intellect perceives as constituting the essence of a substance. Intellectual (...) perception, something cognitive, is used to define an attribute, something metaphysical. And he claims that if something exists there is a reason why it exists and if something doesn’t exist there is also a reason why it doesn’t. Thus, a reason, something cognitive or epistemic, is necessary for existence or nonexistence. What are we to make of the intimate connections that Spinoza sees between metaphysical, cognitive, logical, and epistemic notions? Between being and reason? In this book, I argue for what might be called a realist interpretation: although Spinoza is confident that the order of being mirrors the order of reason, he believes that they are two orders, not one. There is inherence over and above conceptual dependence; there is causation in addition to causal explanation; the world has a nature that we can grasp and that our way of grasping it does not interpose an impenetrable conceptual veil between it and us. (shrink)
In his final, incomplete Tractatus Politicus (1677), Spinoza’s account of human power and freedom shifts towards a new, teleological interest in the ‘highest good’ of the state in realising the freedom of its subjects. This development reflects, in part, the growing influence of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Dutch republicanism, and the Dutch post-Rampjaar context after 1672, with significant implications for his view of political power and freedom. It also reflects an expansion of his account of natural right to include independence of mind, (...) a model of autonomy that in turn shapes the infamous sui juris exclusions of his unfinished account of democracy. This article focuses specifically on the Tractatus Politicus, a hitherto under-addressed work in Spinoza’s corpus and one too often considered indistinct from his earlier Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670). It argues for a reconsideration of its importance to early modern political thought, particularly regarding the role of the state in realising the freedom and harmony of its subjects through reasonable laws. (shrink)
This paper explores an analogy between two approaches to teleology in nature and two theories of authorship. I argue that Spinoza’s attempt (as Kant criticizes it in the Third Critique) to explain all natural unity, and explain away apparent teleological unity, in terms of inhering in the same subject (God) or proceeding causally from God’s essence mirrors the view Proust lays out in the essay “Gustave Moreau” that the features of a work of art are unified in virtue of occurring (...) together in, and proceeding from the laws of, the artist’s inner soul. Meanwhile, the strategy Kant favors for understanding interdependent natural systems like organisms—provisionally considering them as purposively designed—resembles the one Alexander Nehamas recommends in “The Postulated Author” (1981) for interpreting a work of art: imagining the agent who could have intended all its features. I propose that this analogy sheds light on the unity of the two parts of the Third Critique by pointing to the similarity between interpreting beautiful objects and interpreting nature. (shrink)
Spinoza's guiding commitment to the thesis that nothing exists or occurs outside of the scope of nature and its necessary laws makes him one of the great seventeenth-century exemplars of both philosophical naturalism and explanatory rationalism. Nature and Necessity in Spinoza's Philosophy brings together for the first time eighteen of Don Garrett's articles on Spinoza's philosophy, ranging over the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, and political philosophy. Taken together, these influential articles provide a comprehensive interpretation of that (...) philosophy, including Spinoza's theories of substance, thought and extension, causation, truth, knowledge, individuation, representation, consciousness, conatus, teleology, emotion, freedom, responsibility, virtue, contract, the state, and eternity-and the deep interrelations among them. Each article aims to resolve significant problems in the understanding of Spinoza's philosophy in such a way as to make evident both his reasons for his views and the enduring value of his ideas. At the same time, Garrett's articles elucidate the relations between his philosophy and those of predecessors and contemporaries like Aristotle, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, and Leibniz. Lastly, the volume offers important and substantial replies to leading critics on four crucial topics: the necessary existence of God (Nature), substance monism, necessitarianism, and consciousness. (shrink)
In this essay, I will begin by delineating the context of the conatus principle, after which I will provide a reading of the two propositions (EIIIP6 and P7) that contain the very core of the theory. This in turn will enable me to explain how Spinoza’s theory of conatus is connected to his views on desire, activity, and teleology.
Denis Diderot’s natural philosophy is deeply and centrally ‘biologistic’: as it emerges between the 1740s and 1780s, thus right before the appearance of the term ‘biology’ as a way of designating a unified science of life (McLaughlin), his project is motivated by the desire both to understand the laws governing organic beings and to emphasize, more ‘philosophically’, the uniqueness of organic beings within the physical world as a whole. This is apparent both in the metaphysics of vital matter he puts (...) forth in works such as D’Alembert’s Dream (1769) and the more empirical concern with the mechanics of life in his manuscript Elements of Physiology, on which he worked during the last twenty years of his life. This ‘biologism’ obviously presents the interpreter of Diderot with some difficulties, notably as regards his materialism, given that contemporary forms of materialism have on the contrary strongly rejected notions of emergence, vitalism, teleology and any concepts appealing to unique, irreducible features of organisms. In response, some have described him as a ‘holist’ (Kaitaro) while others have emphasized his materialist, naturalist project (Bourdin, Wolfe). In what follows I examine a little-known aspect of Diderot’s articulation of his biological project: his statement in favour of epigenesis within the short but suggestive Encyclopédie article “Spinosiste.” Diderot was, of course, a partisan of epigenesis (the developmental-biological theory opposed to preformation, according to which beings develop by successive adjunction of layers of matter), but why include a statement in favour of a particular biological (or developmental) theory within an entry dealing with a philosopher, Spinoza, who does not seem to have been concerned at all with the specific properties of living beings, how they grow from embryonic to developed states, and so on? By trying to answer this question I also try and locate Diderot’s biological project in relation to what will become, in the years after his death, the project for a science called ‘biology’, with figures such as Treviranus and Lamarck. For it is not clear that the two can be easily correlated or causally linked: Diderot’s ‘epigenetic Spinozism’ is a different conceptual entity from what we find in histories of biology. (shrink)
There can be little doubt that without Spinoza, German Idealism would have been just as impossible as it would have been without Kant. Yet the precise nature of Spinoza's influence on the German Idealists has hardly been studied in detail. This volume of essays by leading scholars sheds light on how the appropriation of Spinoza by Fichte, Schelling and Hegel grew out of the reception of his philosophy by, among others, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Jacobi, Herder, Goethe, Schleiermacher, Maimon and, of course, (...) Kant. The volume thus not only illuminates the history of Spinoza's thought, but also initiates a genuine philosophical dialogue between the ideas of Spinoza and those of the German Idealists. The issues at stake - the value of humanity; the possibility and importance of self-negation; the nature and value of reason and imagination; human freedom; teleology; intuitive knowledge; the nature of God - remain of the highest philosophical importance today. (shrink)
Desire (shahwa) and spiritedness (ghaḍab) vs. conatus -- Veneration vs. equality -- Forms vs. laws of nature -- Freedom vs. determinism -- Teleology vs. imagined ideal -- Prudence vs. imagination -- Epilogue -- Appendix: Richard Kennington's Spinoza and esotericism in Spinoza's thought.
John Carriero has argued that for Spinoza there is no final causality in the Aristotelian sense and that the striving of things is merely to be understood in terms of metaphysical inertia. This paper makes a case against this claim. First it is argued that Spinoza’s notion of striving does in principle meet Thomas Aquinas’ criterion for final causation. Second it is shown that Carriero’s denial of final causation in Spinoza leads to a deflationary interpretation of Spinoza’s notions of the (...) good and striving of things, which is at odds with many passages of Spinoza’s Ethics. One can only do justice to these passages if one assumes that Spinoza did accept final causation in the traditional sense. John Carriero argumentierte, dass Spinoza keine finale Kausalität im aristotelischen Sinne vertrete, sondern das Streben von Dingen als Ausdruck einer Art metaphysischen Trägheit verstehe. Dagegen, so wird hier ausgeführt, sprechen zwei Gründe: Erstens genügt Spinozas Charakterisierung des Strebens von Dingen prinzipiell Thomas von Aquins Definition finaler Verursachung. Zweitens führt Carrieros Zurückweisung finaler Verursachung zu einer deflationären Lesart von Spinozas Begriffen des Guten und des Strebens von Dingen, die mit vielen Passagen aus Spinozas Ethik unvereinbar sind. Diesen Passagen kann nur Rechnung getragen werden, wenn man annimmt, dass Spinoza finale Verursachung im traditionellen Sinn akzeptierte. (shrink)
This paper offers a non-traditional account of what was really at stake in debates over the legitimacy of teleology and teleological explanations in the later medieval and early modern periods. It is divided into four main sections. The first section highlights two defining features of ancient and early medieval views on teleology, namely, that teleological explanations are on a par (or better) with efficient causal explanations, and that the objective goodness of outcomes may explain their coming about. The second section (...) argues that it was the first thesis – the thesis of explanatory parity –that came under attack by mainstream philosophers in the later medieval and early modern traditions, rather than teleology per se. The third section argues similarly that it was the second thesis – the thesis of explanatory goodness – that was the object of Spinoza’s critique of final causes, rather than teleology itself. Finally, the fourth section argues that Leibniz’s claim to be a champion of traditional teleology rests on his willingness to defend both the theses of explanatory parity and goodness against the very charges that led to their demise. The essay concludes by contrasting the narrative offered here with Don Garrett’s recent account according to which “it is not Leibniz but Spinoza who holds the position on teleology and teleological explanation nearest to that of Aristotle” (312). (shrink)
Despite Spinoza’s reputation as a thoroughgoing critic of teleology, in recent years a number of scholars have argued convincingly that Spinoza does not wish to eliminate teleological explanations altogether. Recent interpretative debates have focused on a more recalcitrant problem: whether Spinoza has the resources to allow for the causal efficacy of representational content. In this paper I present the problem of mental causation for Spinoza and consider two recent attempts to respond to the problem on Spinoza’s behalf. While these interpretations (...) certainly shed some light on Spinoza’s account of cognitive economy, I argue that both fail to point the way out of the problem because they fail to differentiate between two forms of representation, one of which is causally efficacious, one of which is not. I close by suggesting that there is some reason to believe that Spinoza’s account of mind avoids some of the problems typically associated with mental causation. (shrink)
Despite Spinoza’s reputation as a thoroughgoing critic of teleology, in recent years a number of scholars have argued convincingly that Spinoza does not wish to eliminate teleological explanations altogether. Recent interpretative debates have focused on a more recalcitrant problem: whether Spinoza has the resources to allow for the causal efficacy of representational content. In this paper I present the problem of mental causation for Spinoza and consider two recent attempts to respond to the problem on Spinoza’s behalf. While these interpretations (...) certainly shed some light on Spinoza’s account of cognitive economy, I argue that both fail to point the way out of the problem because they fail to differentiate between two forms of representation, one of which is causally efficacious, one of which is not. I close by suggesting that there is some reason to believe that Spinoza’s account of mind avoids some of the problems typically associated with mental causation. Spinoza gilt zwar als kompromissloser Kritiker der Teleologie, aber in den letzten Jahren haben mehrere Philosophiehistoriker überzeugend dafür argumentiert, dass er keineswegs alle teleologischen Erklärungen verabschieden möchte. Neuere Interpretationsdebatten haben sich auf ein hartnäckigeres Problem konzentriert: Verfügt Spinoza über die Ressourcen, um die kausale Wirksamkeit des repräsentationalen Inhalts zuzulassen? In diesem Aufsatz stelle ich das Problem der geistigen Verursachung bei Spinoza dar und betrachte zwei neuere Versuche, im Sinne Spinozas auf dieses Problem einzugehen. Diese Interpretationen werfen sicherlich Licht auf Spinozas Auffassung von kognitiver Sparsamkeit, aber ich argumentiere, dass beide darin scheitern, einen Ausweg aus diesem Problem aufzuzeigen, da es beide versäumen, zwischen zwei Formen von Repräsentationen zu unterscheiden: einer kausal wirksamen und einer, die nicht wirksam ist. Es gibt Grund zur Überzeugung, so lege ich abschließend nahe, dass Spinozas Auffassung des Geistes einige der Probleme vermeidet, die typischerweise mit geistiger Verursachung verbunden sind. (shrink)
The Divide between the prominence of final causes in Aristotelian natural philosophy and the rejection or severe limitation of final causation as an acceptable explanation of the natural world by figures such as Bacon, Descartes, and Spinoza during the seventeenth century has been considered a distinguishing mark between pre-modern and modern science.1 Admittedly, proponents of the mechanical and corpuscular philosophies of the seventeenth century were not necessarily stark opponents of teleology. Pierre Gassendi and Robert Boyle endorsed teleology, Leibniz embraced entelechies, (...) and they creep into Descartes's natural philosophy, despite his adamant attempts to eliminate them.2 Nonetheless, critiques of ends in .. (shrink)
By reconstructing the teleological conceptions of Thomas Aquinas, Suarez, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, the author argues against the common view that mechanical philosophers in the Early Modern Period rejected natural teleology because of its association with an Aristotelian picture of the world. First, many thinkers in the Early Modern Period did not reject teleological explanations for natural phenomena. Second, many scholastic thinkers already believed that pure natural teleology was problematic because they held that authentic teleological explanations are only possible when (...) goals can be recognized.". (shrink)
Especially in the appendix to the opening part of his Ethics, Spinoza discusses teleology in a manner that has earned him the status of a staunch critic of final causes. Much of the recent lively discussion concerning this complex and difficult issue has revolved around the writings of Jonathan Bennett who maintains that Spinoza does, in fact, reject all teleology. Especially important has been the argument claiming that because of his basic ontology, Spinoza cannot but reject thoughtful teleology, that is, (...) teleology involved in the actions of conscious cognitive beings who have thoughts of future states of affairs. For Spinoza, a particular idea is a modification of the thinking substance the object of which is a certain modification of the extended substance, and Bennett’s central argumentative move is to claim that there is no room in Spinoza’s system for a key ingredient in thoughtful teleology, the tenet that representative content of ideas is causally efficacious. In what follows, I begin by presenting Bennett’s argument. As his position has received much criticism, I then take up the ways in which it has been discussed and found wanting. I think that Bennett’s position really is something that should not be endorsed; however, and despite the lively discussion, it also seems to me that there is more to be said about what is at stake here. Thus, I aim at offering an analysis of the nature of Bennett’s argument and the ensuing discussion with the aim of discerning the philosophical source from which Bennett’s interpretation draws its force. (shrink)
Although Spinoza's formative influence on the cultural ideals of the West is widely recognized, especially with reference to liberal democracy, secular humanism, and naturalistic ethics, little has been written about the educational implications of his philosophy. This article explores the pedagogical tenets that are implicit in Spinoza's writings. I argue (1) that Spinoza's ethics is eudaimonistic, aiming at self‐affirmation, full humanity and wellbeing; (2) that the flourishing of individuals depends on their personal resources, namely, their conatus, power, vitality or capacity (...) to act from their own inner natures; and (3) that the combination of the Spinozian conceptions of humanism, liberal democracy, eudaimonistic ethics, and the enlightened and sovereign individual constitute together the grounds for a comprehensive empowering and liberating pedagogy. (shrink)
_The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Second edition_ is an indispensable guide and reference source to the major themes, movements, debates and topics in philosophy of religion. Considerably expanded for the second edition, over seventy entries from a team of renowned international contributors are organized into nine clear parts: philosophical issues in world religions key figures in philosophy of religion religious diversity the theistic conception of God arguments for the existence of God arguments against the existence of God philosophical (...) theology Christian theism recent topics in philosophy of religion. Covering key world religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, and key figures such as Augustine, Aquinas and Kierkegaard, the Companion explores the central topics in theism such as the ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments for God’s existence. Three final parts consider Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern orthodoxy and current debates including phenomenology, reformed epistemology, religious experience, and religion and science, making the _Companion_ as a whole_ _essential reading for students of philosophy or religion, and suitable for anyone coming to the subject for the first time. This second edition includes new chapters on Blaise Pascal, Baruch Spinoza, Interreligious Dialogue, Death and the Afterlife, Incorporeality, Religion and Global Ethics, New Religious Movements, Religion and the Environment, and Religion and Film. (shrink)
As Spinoza presents it, the knowledge of God is knowledge, primarily, of oneself and, secondarily, of other things. Without this know‐ledge, a mind may not consciously desire to persevere in being. That is why Spinoza claims that the knowledge of God is the most useful thing to the mind at IVP28. He claims that the knowledge of God is the highest good, however, not because it is instrumental to perseverance, but because it is also the best among those goods that (...) we seek for their own sakes. It is acquiescentia in se ipso, the highest form of laetitia. (shrink)
This article studies a series of provocative references to Spinoza by Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben. For both contemporary philosophers, the context is discussions of eating, a subject matter that turns out to involve such central issues as subjectivity, nature, ethics, and teleology. Each situates Spinoza in a counter-history of philosophy and suggests that Spinoza constitutes an important resource for contemporary reflections. Through an analysis of the three philosophers' texts about eating, nutrition, and being metabolized, I argue that Spinoza's nonteleological, (...) nonhumanistic conception of nature remains a radical possibility, even in the face of contemporary attempts to think outside the canonical discourses of transcendental subjectivity, technological reason, and teleological ethics. Spinoza's position is, in the end, more uncompromising than that of Derrida or Agamben. (shrink)
Leibniz shares the enthusiasm of other 17th-century philosophers for mechanism. Nevertheless, Leibniz wants to reserve a very important role for teleology in both his physics and metaphysics. Contemporary commentators have criticized Leibniz's commitment to teleology on the grounds that it is incoherent given several of his other metaphysical doctrines including his otherwise mechanistic view of material bodies, it involves an illicit violation of his own methodological requirements, and it is a matter of mere theological posturing that is of little metaphysical (...) interest. Against this reigning consensus I argue that Leibniz's use of teleology is not only compatible with his broad metaphysical views and his philosophical methodology, but it is also is required by some of his most steadfastly held principles including his views on divine creation and causation in general. Thus, teleology in Leibniz's system in neither incoherent nor an empty gesture made in the interest of Christian orthodoxy. ;Spinoza's and Descartes's rejection of final causality provide the impetus for contemporary critics. Since Jonathan Bennett's theory of teleology avoids this line of criticism, I take it as the starting point for a reconstructed theory of final causality based on an Aristotelian metaphysic. I conclude, therefore, that if Leibniz's approach to final causality can be interpreted along Aristotelian lines it can escape the criticisms alluded to above. ;This approach provides the best way to interpret Leibniz's talk of final causality. Leibniz's critique of occasionalism and his about individual substances, requires him to argue that God would only produce creatures that possessed the sort of natures envisioned by Aristotle, which are inherently teleological. Thus, a robust Aristotelian teleology is exactly the sort of position we should expect Leibniz to take given some of his broader metaphysical. The theoretical fruitfulness of the doctrine of Leibnizian teleology is then explored. In particular, the approach developed in this project is shown to address successfully the problems raised by critics of Leibniz's use of teleological concepts. (shrink)
This dissertation examined Spinoza's concept of the order of nature in light of Justus Buchler's meta-analytic critique of the idea of the order of nature. Four sets of defining criteria for any viable concept of the order nature were presented in Buchler's metaphysical analysis: Things cannot be conceived of as existing in nature; Nature is not subject to an inherent teleological principle; There is no supervening order of nature or Order of Orders; and Nature cannot be interpreted exclusively as either (...) a domain or a trait orientation. ;An investigation of Spinoza's concept of the order of nature sought to determine if it violated any of the four Buchlerian criteria of nature. With regard to , it was argued that modes express ontological and conceptual dependence on substance. Therefore, things do not exist in nature. Pertaining to , it was argued that the infinite mode forms the structure of nature by which it is determined in a law-guided and logically integrative manner. Thus, nature is not teleologically determined, whether regarding the finite modes, or nature taken as the totality of modal reality. With regard to , it was argued that nature's order is epi-phenomenal, and thus presents the comprehensive relations held between the infinite totality of modal modifications as they issue in accordance with the laws of nature inscribed in the logical structure of the infinite mode. Thus, there is no evidence of a supervening order or encompassing order of nature. And in response to , Spinoza's concept of the order of nature embodies both domain and trait orientations, and therefore, can be understood from one mode of interpretation that reflects both orientations, respectively, natura naturans and natura naturata. Spinoza's nature, therefore, cannot be interpreted exclusively as either a domain or trait orientation. ;The conclusions drawn from the philosophical examination of Spinoza's concept of the order of nature indicate that his view of nature does not violate the Buchlerian parameters for the viability of the concept of the order of nature. (shrink)
In my dissertation I explore the relationship between Spinoza's conception of self-preservation and the various forms of love discussed in the Ethics. After considering his early conception of love in the first of four chapters, I show how love, in all its forms, is related to Spinoza's conception of conatus or striving to persist in existence. In contrast to other interpretations of the Ethics, I emphasize the non-teleological component of Spinoza's mature philosophy and argue that love, in particular intellectual love, (...) constitutes an integral part of his ethical theory. As passionate love, love is described as having a negative effect on our ability to persevere or be causally effective. As an active affect, it is introduced as a love towards God that allows humans to undergo an increase in power of acting without imposing limits on their ability to produce effects. Finally, as the intellectual love of God, love is understood by Spinoza as a direct expression of the mind's eternity. As such it reflects his non-teleological approach most clearly. While love as a passive or active affect is judged merely in terms of its impact on our power of acting, intellectual love is not judged in terms of its contribution to our attempts to achieve immortality. Eternity is not a goal that can be achieved by means of a love for God. Hence, Spinoza's Amor Dei intellectualis does not constitute, as has been suggested in the literature, a simple retreat to a traditional conception of love. This claim is further supported by the fact that Spinoza's account of the various forms of love can be shown to be grounded in his epistemological distinction between imagination, reason and intuitive knowledge. As joy or blessedness accompanied by the idea of an internal cause, intellectual love flows out of the understanding of a form of persistence beyond immortality. (shrink)
The range of this volume, and thus the task especially of its editor, is enormous: to confront the question of teleology from Plato through Aristotle, Maimonides, Aquinas’s commentaries on the Physics, Copernicus, Machiavelli, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Spinoza, and Newton, to Kant, Hegel, and then to Einstein, and to recent theories of anthropic-principle cosmology or else versions of the many-worlds cosmology of chance and necessity, and then to Niels Bohr and quantum mechanics, and finally to the problem of current molecular-biological theories (...) of evolution. (shrink)
This dissertation sets out to discuss some features of Spinoza's concepts of conatus and causation, through a discussion of the overall structure of the Ethics. ;The major portion of the dissertation is devoted to Spinoza's method, as employed in the Ethics, the notorious geometric method. I argue against the traditional reading of the method as a simple geometric device, and for a position which emphasizes how the method itself leads the reader to come to the highest kinds of knowledge. This (...) is accomplished both with reference to Spinoza's early modern contemporaries, and older Jewish antecedent. ;The reconsideration of method leads, respectively, to a discussion of the conatus in Spinoza's philosophy, and the centrality of adequate cause. The conatus is viewed as a way of making Spinoza's philosophy jibe with our phenomenal world, and to show how we express ourselves through the metaphysical, physical and rational structures detailed in the first two books of the Ethics. Hence it allows us to view the work itself as a way of coming to terms with, and moving towards, knowledge sub specie aeternitatis. ;The centrality of adequate cause similarly helps us to see that Spinoza's interest is not so much in detailing the metaphysical structure of the world, but teaching us to express ourselves in and through it. That is the ultimate goal of the method itself. (shrink)