Miletus Preserved II: Spinoza

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI:
Miletus Preserved II: Spinoza

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  • History of Western Philosophy


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Spinoza, more concerned than Hobbes with the ancient conception of the role of philosophy in delineating the Good Life, made Substance, God, and Nature into synonyms. God is eternal, free, and all-powerful, but in no way personal, operating for no end, but from the necessity of its nature. Nothing is contingent. This entity, of whose infinite Attributes we know two, Thought and Extension, and whose Modes are the particular things (including us) of our experience, is all there is. Mind and Body are “the same thing, expressed in two ways.” A particular mind is composed of Ideas –beliefs, active entities, not the “dumb pictures on a tablet” of Descartes. Some ideas are adequate, others are inadequate, “confused and fragmentary.” The more we replace our inadequate ideas by adequate ones, the closer we attain to blessedness, and indeed share in the eternity of God.

Keywords: Good Life; God; Nature; attribute; thought; extension; mind/body identity; adequate idea; eternity; blessedness

Chapter.  1880 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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