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6 - Spinoza on Necessity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2010

Olli Koistinen
Affiliation:
University of Turku, Finland
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Summary

Many passages in the Ethics give the impression that Spinoza accepts necessitarianism. This is the doctrine that everything that is the case is necessarily the case or, in Leibnizian terms, that the actual world is the only possible world. Some of the passages that produce this impression are the following: “(1) . . . there must necessarily follow from the necessity of the divine nature an infinity of things in infinite ways (that is, everything that can come within the scope of the infinite intellect). (1p16d) / (2) Nothing in nature is contingent, but all things are from the necessity of the divine nature determined to exist and to act in a definite way. (1p29d) / (3) Things could not have been produced by God in any other way or in any other order than is the case. (1p33) / (4) . . . I have here shown more clearly than the midday sun that in things there is absolutely nothing by virtue of which they can be said to be “contingent” . . . a thing is said to be “contingent” for no other reason than the deficiency of our knowledge. . . . (1p33s1) / (5) Whatever is within God's power must be so comprehended in his essence (1p34) that it follows necessarily from it, and thus necessarily exists. (1p35d) / (6) . . . all things follow from God's eternal decree by the same necessity as it follows from the essence of a triangle that its three angles are equal to two right angles. (2p49s)”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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