Not Wholly Finite: The Dual Aspect of Finite Modes in Spinoza

Philosophia 46 (2):433-451 (2018)
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Abstract

Spinoza’s bold claim that there exists only a single infinite substance entails that finite things pose a deep challenge: How can Spinoza account for their finitude and their plurality? Taking finite bodies as a test case for finite modes in general I articulate the necessary conditions for the existence of finite things. The key to my argument is the recognition that Spinoza’s account of finite bodies reflects both Cartesian and Hobbesian influences. This recognition leads to the surprising realization there must be more to finite bodies than their finitude, a claim that goes well beyond the basic substance-monism claim, namely, that anything that is, is in God. This leads to the conclusion, which may seem paradoxical, that finite bodies have both an infinite as well as a finite aspect to them. Finite bodies, I argue, both actively partially determine all the other finite bodies, thereby partially causing their existence insofar as they are finite, as well as are determined by the totality of other bodies. I articulate precisely what this infinite aspect is and how it is distinct from the general substance-monism dictum.

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Author's Profile

Noa Shein
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

References found in this work

Descartes: A Study of His Philosophy.Anthony Kenny (ed.) - 1968 - South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine's Press.
Descartes' Metaphysical Physics.Daniel GARBER - 1992 - Studia Leibnitiana 26 (1):127-128.
Spinoza's Geometry of Power.Valtteri Viljanen - 2011 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Acosmism or weak individuals?: Hegel, Spinoza, and the reality of the finite.Yitzhak Y. Melamed - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (1):pp. 77-92.
Spinoza on Extension.Alison Peterman - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.

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