Spinoza’s ‘Infinite Modes’ Reconsidered

Journal of Modern Philosophy 1 (1):1-29 (2019)
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My two principal aims in this essay are interconnected. One aim is to provide a new interpretation of the ‘infinite modes’ in Spinoza’s Ethics. I argue that for Spinoza, God, conceived as the one infinite and eternal substance, is not to be understood as causing two kinds of modes, some infinite and eternal and the rest finite and non-eternal. That there cannot be such a bifurcation of divine effects is what I take the ‘infinite mode’ propositions, E1p21–23, to establish; E1p21–23 show that each and every one of the immanent effects of an infinite and eternal God is an infinite and eternal mode. The other aim is to show that these propositions can be understood as part of an extended critical response to Descartes’s infamous doctrine that God creates eternal truths and true and immutable natures. If we have the correct (Spinozan) conceptions of what God is and how God works, we see that an eternal and infinite God can only be understood to cause ‘eternal truths,’ and that these eternal truths are infinite and eternal modes of God.

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Kristin Primus
University of California, Berkeley

References found in this work

Descartes: the project of pure enquiry.Bernard Williams (ed.) - 1978 - Hassocks: Harvester Press.
Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry.Bernard Williams - 1978 - Hassocks [Eng.]: Routledge.
Spinoza.Michael Della Rocca - 2008 - New York: Routledge.
Does God Have a Nature?Alvin Plantinga - 1980 - Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.
Spinoza's Metaphysics: Substance and Thought.Yitzhak Y. Melamed - 2013 - Oxford: Oxford University Press USA.

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