Spinoza on conatus, inertia and the impossibility of self-destruction


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.

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References found in this work

Spinoza's Conatus Argument.Don Garrett - 2002 - In Olli Koistinen & J. I. Biro (eds.), Spinoza: Metaphysical Themes. Oxford University Press. pp. 127-58.
Spinoza and the Problem of Suicide.Lee Rice - 1994 - International Philosophical Quarterly 34 (2):229-241.

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