Spinoza's modal metaphysics

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2023)
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Spinoza studies have seen a renaissance of interest in his views on modality, from which considerable disagreement has emerged about Spinoza's modal commitments. Much of this disagreement stems from larger interpretive disagreements about Spinoza's metaphysics. After a brief introduction, this SEP article begins with Spinoza's views on the distribution of modal properties, which quickly leads the heart of Spinoza's metaphysics, intersecting his views on causation, inherence, God, ontological plenitude and the principle of sufficient reason. Although the question of whether Spinoza was a necessitarian is the predominant topic of discussion in the recent secondary literature on Spinoza's modal views, Spinoza also sketches interesting accounts of the nature of modality and the ground of modality that shed fresh light on his modal commitments. Though understudied by recent interpreters, these latter topics were of interest to Spinoza's peers and remain vibrant research questions in contemporary metaphysics of modality.



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Samuel Newlands
University of Notre Dame

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