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Substance (substantia, zelfstandigheid)’ is a key term of Spinoza’s philosophy. Like almost all of Spinoza’s philosophical vocabulary, Spinoza did not invent this term, which has a long history that can be traced back at least to Aristotle. Yet, Spinoza radicalized the traditional notion of substance and made a very powerful use of it by demonstrating – or at least attempting to demonstrate – that there is only one, unique substance – God (or Nature) – and that all other things are merely modes or states of God. In the first section, I examine Spinoza’s definitions of "substance" and "God" at the opening of the Ethics. In the second section, I study the properties of the fundamental binary relations pertaining to Spinoza’s substance: inherence, conception, and causation. The third section is dedicated to a clarification of Spinoza’s claim that God, the unique substance, is absolutely infinite. The fourth section studies the nature of Spinoza’s monism. It will discuss and criticize the interesting yet controversial views of Martial Gueroult, about the plurality of substances in the beginning of the Ethics and evaluate Spinoza’s kind of ontological monism. The fifth and final section explains the nature, reality, and manner of existence of modes.
This chapter highlights some distinctive features of Spinoza’s Political Treatise, comparing it to his better known Theological-Political Treatise and Ethics. It summarizes the contributions to the volume, which are among the very few published commentaries on Spinoza’s unfinished but rich Political Treatise
This chapter begins with the observation that Spinoza is commonly perceived as suggesting that any empowerment is essentially good. In tension with this idea, Spinoza asserts in Chapter Seven of his Political Treatise that “the most stable state is one which defends only its own possessions, and cannot seek those of others.” This chapter argues that Spinoza develops a view according to which having too much power is likely to bring about the destruction of the state. Thus, it is a matter of luck (i.e., of having just the right amount of power) which determines the fate and survival of the state. It then explains how these claims of Spinoza’s can be reconciled with his general view of power as virtue, and what can we learn about Spinoza’s understanding of power from the surprising passage in the Seventh Chapter of the TP.
Spinoza's Political Treatise constitutes the very last stage in the development of his thought, as he left the manuscript incomplete at the time of his death in 1677. On several crucial issues - for example, the new conception of the 'free multitude' - the work goes well beyond his Theological Political Treatise (1670), and arguably presents ideas that were not fully developed even in his Ethics. This volume of newly commissioned essays on the Political Treatise is the first collection in English to be dedicated specifically to the work, ranging over topics including political explanation, national religion, the civil state, vengeance, aristocratic government, and political luck. It will be a major resource for scholars who are interested in this important but still neglected work, and in Spinoza's political philosophy more generally.
Spinoza's Ethics, published in 1677, is considered his greatest work and one of history's most influential philosophical treatises. This volume brings established scholars together with new voices to engage with the complex system of philosophy proposed by Spinoza in his masterpiece. Topics including identity, thought, free will, metaphysics, and reason are all addressed, as individual chapters investigate the key themes of the Ethics and combine to offer readers a fresh and thought-provoking view of the work as a whole. Written in a clear and accessible style, the volume sets out cutting-edge research that reflects, challenges, and promotes the most recent scholarly advances in the field of Spinoza studies, tackling old issues and bringing to light new subjects for debate.