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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.
Over his career, Kant engages in a long attempt – which reaches a high point in the Prolegomena – to forge what in the Physical Monadology he calls a ‘marriage’ of metaphysics and geometry. The chapter traces the development of Kant’s thought on this union from its pre-critical roots to its flowering in the Prolegomena, and focuses on the role that geometric construction in natural science plays in connecting the two disciplines. This has implications both for how we should understand Kant’s desire to discover the ‘common origin’ of mathematics and natural science that is spelled out in the Prolegomena, as well as how this bears on Kant’s broader views about the status of natural science and laws.
The chapter explores the ways in which Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion influenced Kant. Both Hume and Kant have deep reservations about traditional theistic arguments about God, but each declines to reject them entirely, choosing instead to allow that there is some legitimacy in thinking of the world ‘as if’ it were created by God. The essay argues that Kant’s and Hume’s positions are – at least on this issue – much closer than might be expected, particularly in light of Kant’s attempt in the Prolegomena to distance himself from Hume’s attacks on deism.
The chapter focuses on Kant’s rather surprising claim that although we cannot have any direct cognition in metaphysics, we can nonetheless have “cognition by analogy” of things such as God and the world-whole. While Kant says relatively little about what this involves, the essay makes the case that cognition by analogy, and in particular the symbolic cognition of God, shows that Kant’s account of how we meet the criteria for cognition is far more flexible than is typically recognized. The analysis of Kant’s use of analogy more generally widens the scope of how we as humans, who are at once sensible and intelligible, stand in relation to the world of experience.
Buddhism is a tradition that set itself decidedly against theism, with the development of complex arguments against the existence of God. I propose that the metaphysical conclusions reached by some schools in the Mahayana tradition present a vision of reality that, with some apparently small modification, would ground an argument for the existence of God. This argument involves explanation in terms of natures rather than causal agency. Yet I conclude not only that the Buddhist becomes a theist in embracing such explanations as legitimate, but also ipso facto abandons their metaphysical project and ceases to be a Buddhist.
Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza (1632–1677) was one of the most systematic, inspiring, and influential philosophers of the early modern period. From a pantheistic starting point that identified God with Nature as all of reality, he sought to demonstrate an ethics of reason, virtue, and freedom while unifying religion with science and mind with body. His contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, ethics, politics, and the analysis of religion remain vital to the present day. Yet his writings initially appear forbidding to contemporary readers, and his ideas have often been misunderstood. This second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza includes new chapters on Spinoza's life and his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and biblical scholarship, as well as extensive updates to the previous chapters and bibliography. A thorough, reliable, and accessible guide to this extraordinary philosopher, it will be invaluable to anyone who wants to understand what Spinoza has to teach.
The teaching of creation has been much misunderstood and under-developed because it has been taken to be primarily about how the world began a long, long time ago. Religious naturalists have often abandoned this teaching so as to give a more scientifically informed characterization of our cosmos and humanity’s place within it. Wirzba argues that this is a big mistake because the rejection of the idea that our world is a divinely created world makes it impossible to speak of life as a gift. This chapter develops what it means to say that each creature is gift cherished and sustained in its being by God. As such, it opens the idea of creation to encompass life’s meaning and purpose, and it creates a way for people to become involved in the nurture and healing of our world and our shared life. The logic of creation, upon further examination, is not about God’s power “over” the world but about God’s presence to the world in the forms of love that invite human participation in it.
Also Schelling – by 1802 a declared Spinozist – altered his methodology, adding to it a phenomenological dimension. In 1807 he portrayed the philosopher as an artist singularly gifted with an intuitive sense for nature as issuing from the Oneness of the Absolute, equally substance and subject. Jacobi attacked him for this. Chapter 4 details Schelling’s ensuing controversy with him but is otherwise dedicated to Schelling’s seminal Freedom Essay (1809). In the essay Schelling again portrayed the philosopher as a divinely inspired artist. He now conceived his work, however, as one of remembering the event at which God manifests himself in the form of a world that reflects in its manifold the internal economy of the divine being. This event is shrouded in the human unconscious but can be brought to light through the philosopher’s imaginative representations. The warrant for these is that they resonate with humankind’s belief, embodied in mythology, that its history is also the history of God’s realization in space/time. Schelling was thus adopting a rich metaphysical position, the direct contrary of Fichte’s ontological quietism, which the monism the two shared nonetheless also made possible. Evil comes up as an important issue for Schelling
If one believes in God, what should one say is the answer to the question of why we are here? In this article, I hope to show that when we ask why we are here we ask several different questions at once and that Theism allows (indeed dictates) that these different questions have very different answers. Appreciating these differences can remove at least that perplexity generated when an answer which could well be plausible were it to be given in response to one question of God's purpose for us is mislocated and treated as if it were an answer to another.
Theism is the view that God exists; naturalism is the view that there are no supernatural beings, processes, mechanisms, or forces. This Element explores whether things are better, worse, or neither on theism relative to naturalism. It introduces readers to the central philosophical issues that bear on this question, and it distinguishes a wide range of ways it can be answered. It critically examines four views, three of which hold (in various ways) that things are better on theism than on naturalism, and one of which holds just the opposite.
Christopher Rowe argues that Aristotle in the Eudemian Ethics develops a naturalised account of Socrates’s divine sign: even people lacking in practical wisdom, Aristotle proposes, can act appropriately, and achieve a kind of happiness, because of something divine in them. But this ‘something divine’ is not (as it is for Socrates) a private inner voice, rather a kind of well-naturedness. For Aristotle, goodness is natural. The goodness of human nature explains how it is possible to do the appropriate things even without reasoning, and even do so reliably. This offers Aristotle an answer to a puzzle about our relation to the natural world. Humans, he holds, are good by nature, yet he also holds fully virtuous human beings to be relatively rare: two claims that are hard to reconcile, given Aristotle’s usual view that what occurs ‘by nature’ occurs ‘always or for the most part’. By allowing there to be a level of decency that is achievable through well-naturedness, even by those who lack full virtue, Aristotle can answer this puzzle. If this decency is achieved by many people, then there is, after all, a kind of good human development that occurs by nature and occurs regularly.
This chapter sets out to explore the thesis that Plato, at least in his later years, in his efforts to identify the nature of his First Principle, was inclined to settle on the concept of a rational World Soul, with demiurgic functions, and that this was a doctrine that his faithful amanuensis in his last years, Philip of Opus, advanced on his own account, in the belief that in this he was developing the latest theories of his Master.
How is the rationality of the Stoic god constituted? Commentators often look to the seventeenth-century ‘rationalists’, especially Spinoza, for their inspiration. But the Stoics say that god’s rationality is the same as ours. Since human rationality is defined as a product of concept-acquisition, it may be that the Stoics had to give an ‘empiricist’ account of divine rationality too. Hierocles’ discussion of animal self-perception shows that the Stoics had the conceptual materials for such an account.
Emphasis on the ‘craftsmanlike’ character of creation in the Timaeus can give the impression that the cosmos is no more an ‘animal’ than Dr Frankenstein’s monster. But Middle Platonists took more seriously the biological implications of the claim that the god is the world’s father as well as its maker, implanting a soul in matter which (as in all animals) brings the cosmos to maturity through its own creative agency. Entailments of the view are that the world soul is first and foremost the ‘nutritive’ soul of the cosmos and that the soul must be a structural feature of the cosmic body rather than a distinct substance.
The Muʿtazilī theologians, particularly the later Imāmī ones, developed numerous interesting arguments against divine command theory. The arguments, however, have not received the attention they deserve. Some of the arguments have been discussed in passing, and some have not been discussed at all. In this article, I aim to present and analyse the arguments. To that end, I first distinguish between different semantic, ontological, epistemological, and theological theses that were often conflated in the debate, and examine the logical relation among them. Then I go over the Muʿtazila's arguments determining, among other things, which of the theses was targeted by each argument. In presenting the arguments, I focus mainly on the late kalām period, the period falling roughly between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries of the common era, as the arguments were at their most sophisticated level by this time.
In postcolonial Muslim-majority contexts, particularly in areas struggling with political violence, achieving the ideal of the rule of law is straightforward neither in theory nor in practice. Plural and overlapping legal orders – derived from Islamic principles, from the traditions of indigenous communities, and from the laws and institutions imported by colonial administrators or foreign aid workers and managed by postcolonial state leaders – shape how citizens come to understand different values associated with legal order. In these states, common ideals and shared visions of what law is and how it should work are scarce. Litigants may shop around among different legal systems (each one derived from an amalgam of traditions) for a desired outcome of their disputes, as they are pulled in one direction or another by family members, religious and community leaders, and lawyers.
Only in his twenties, Tayyib was already one of Somaliland’s most promising lawyers. I met Tayyib early on a sunny morning, and we sat down on a couple of plastic chairs along the dirt path outside the Hargeisa courthouse. I asked him why he worked in legal aid programs designed to help poor people have free legal representation in court, what cases he was arguing that day, and what events had shaped his career and the broader development of law in Somalia and Somaliland. As we neared the end of our meeting, I invited him to share his professional goals. I wondered if he hoped to enter politics, private practice, or the United Nations system. These paths would provide more stability, renown, and salary than his current position did, and they were often taken by the most prominent professionals. He looked away, toward the dilapidated courthouse and one-story government buildings. Then he turned back to me and said he “would like to stop” being an attorney altogether.
What does Darwin’s theory have to say about human evolution? To answer this question, we turn first to philosophical discussions on the nature of rationality, specifically those of David Hume and Immanuel Kant. They both argue that the mind is preformed for thinking, with certain norms about mathematics and causality a priori for the individual human. Darwin argues that this is all a product of selection. Those proto-humans who took mathematics and causality seriously survived and reproduced, and those that did not, did not. This is Pragmatism, as we see from a brief consideration of the thinking of C. S. Peirce in the nineteenth century and Richard Rorty in the twentieth. We are not stuck in relativism, because the scientific evidence is that there is little genetic variation between humans. What we do not have, because Darwinism is within the mechanism paradigm, is any way of extracting absolute value from science and hence the natural world. Darwinian science cannot prove human superiority. This is preparing the way for existentialism.