Acosmism or weak individuals?: Hegel, Spinoza, and the reality of the finite

Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (1):pp. 77-92 (2009)
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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.



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Yitzhak Melamed
Johns Hopkins University

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