Thomas M. Ward
Baylor University
This paper examines some aspects of Spinoza's metaphysics of the essences of modes.2 I situate Spinoza's use of the notion of essence as a response to traditional, Aristotelian, ways of thinking about essence. I argue that, although Spinoza rejects part of the Aristotelian conception of essence, according to which it is in virtue of its essence that a thing is a member of a kind, he nevertheless retains a different part of such a conception, according to which an essence is some structural feature of a thing which causally explains other, non-essential features. I go on to develop an account of Spinoza's metaphysics of essence, according to which essences, what he sometimes calls formal essences, are produced by the divine essence prior to and independent of the creation of finite modes, and according to which essences are the formal or exemplar causes of finite modes. I then argue that finite modes, in virtue of the formal essences which they actualize, are genuine causal relata. Finally, I offer some speculations about Spinoza's answer to the question, "Why, in a necessitarian cosmos filled with formal essences, should there be temporal finite modes at all?"
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2011.533010
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References found in this work BETA

Spinoza's Metaphysics: An Essay in Interpretation.E. M. CURLEY - 1969 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Spinoza.Don Garrett - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (4):952-955.
Spinoza I. Dieu.M. Gueroult - 1970 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 32 (2):332-335.

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Citations of this work BETA

Spinoza’s ‘Infinite Modes’ Reconsidered.Kristin Primus - 2019 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 1 (1):1-29.
Spinoza’s Monism II: A Proposal.Kristin Primus - forthcoming - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie.
Spinoza on Essence and Ideal Individuation.Adam Murray - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (1):78-96.
Spinoza and the Logical Limits of Mental Representation.Galen Barry - 2019 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 1 (1):5.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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