Spinoza is most often seen as a stern advocate of mechanistic efficient causation, but examining his philosophy in relation to the Aristotelian tradition reveals this view to be misleading: some key passages of the Ethics resemble so much what Surez writes about emanation that it is most natural to situate Spinoza's theory of causation not in the context of the mechanical sciences but in that of a late scholastic doctrine of the emanative causality of the formal cause; as taking a look at the seventeenth-century philosophy of mathematics reveals, this is in consonance also with Spinoza's geometrical cast of mind. Against this background, I examine Spinoza's essentialist model of causation according to which each thing has a formal character determined by the thing's essence and what follows from that essence. In the case of real things this essential causal architecture results in efficacy, i.e. in bringing about real effects, the key idea being that without the essential, formally structured causal thrust there would be no efficacy in the first place. I also explain how this model accounts for efficient causation taking place between finite things
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201740802166692
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,132
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Study of Spinoza's 'Ethics'.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 69 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Spinoza's Formal Mechanism.Christopher Martin - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (S1):151-181.
Spinoza and the Logical Limits of Mental Representation.Galen Barry - 2019 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 1 (1):5.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Bio-Agency and the Problem of Action.J. C. Skewes & C. A. Hooker - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):283 - 300.
The Mind and the Body as 'One and the Same Thing' in Spinoza.Colin R. Marshall - 2009 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (5):897-919.
Cause and Essence.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Synthese 93 (3):403 - 449.
Spinoza on the Essence, Mutability and Power of God.Nicholas Okrent - 1998 - Philosophy and Theology 11 (1):71-84.
How Causal is Downward Causation?Menno Hulswit - 2005 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (2):261 - 287.
Time, Duration and Eternity in Spinoza.Bruce Baugh - 2010 - Comparative and Continental Philosophy 2 (2):211-233.


Added to PP index

Total views
107 ( #101,885 of 2,454,816 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #84,167 of 2,454,816 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes