Spinoza on Conatus and Persistence through Time

Journal of Philosophical Research 37:51-72 (2012)
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Abstract

This paper concerns Spinoza’s theory of conatus and an important consequence of this theory concerning how bodies persist through time. I first argue that a conatus is the self-maintaining activity of a mode and not (as many scholars maintain) a tendency toward self-preservation or some kind of force. I then argue that it follows from this theory of conatus that bodies persist through time by having temporal parts. I conclude the paper by arguing that attributing a temporal parts (or ‘four-dimensional’) metaphysic to Spinoza is not as implausible or anachronistic as it might first seem to be.

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