Spinoza’s Monism I: Ruling Out Eternal-Durational Causation

Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 105 (2):265-288 (2023)
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In this essay, I suggest that Spinoza acknowledges a distinction between formal reality that is infinite and timelessly eternal and formal reality that is non-infinite (i. e., finite or indefinite) and non-eternal (i. e., enduring). I also argue that if, in Spinoza’s system, only intelligible causation is genuine causation, then infinite, timelessly eternal formal reality cannot cause non-infinite, non-eternal formal reality. A denial of eternal-durational causation generates a puzzle, however: if no enduring thing – not even the sempiternal, indefinite individual composed of all finite, enduring things – is caused by the infinite, eternal substance, then how can Spinoza consistently hold that the one infinite, eternal substance is the cause of all things and that all things are modes of that substance? At the end of this essay, I sketch how Spinoza could deny eternal-durational causation while still holding that an infinite, eternal God is the cause of all things and that all things are modes. I develop the interpretation more in the companion essay.1 1 In “Spinoza’s Monism II,” in the next issue of this journal.

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Kristin Primus
University of California, Berkeley

References found in this work

Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Abstract particulars.Keith Campbell - 1990 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Spinoza's Metaphysics: Substance and Thought.Yitzhak Y. Melamed - 2013 - Oxford: Oxford University Press USA.
A Study of Spinoza's Ethics.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - Critica 16 (48):110-112.
Spinoza's metaphysics: an essay in interpretation.Edwin M. Curley - 1969 - Cambridge,: Harvard University Press.

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