Not Wholly Finite: The Dual Aspect of Finite Modes in Spinoza

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Abstract

Spinoza’s bold claim that there exists only a single infinite substance entails that finite things pose a deep challenge: How can Spinoza account for their finitude and their plurality? Taking finite bodies as a test case for finite modes in general I articulate the necessary conditions for the existence of finite things. The key to my argument is the recognition that Spinoza’s account of finite bodies reflects both Cartesian and Hobbesian influences. This recognition leads to the surprising realization there must be more to finite bodies than their finitude, a claim that goes well beyond the basic substance-monism claim, namely, that anything that is, is in God. This leads to the conclusion, which may seem paradoxical, that finite bodies have both an infinite as well as a finite aspect to them. Finite bodies, I argue, both actively partially determine all the other finite bodies, thereby partially causing their existence insofar as they are finite, as well as are determined by the totality of other bodies. I articulate precisely what this infinite aspect is and how it is distinct from the general substance-monism dictum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-451
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophia (United States)
Volume46
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Causation
  • Descartes
  • Extension
  • Finite bodies
  • Finite modes
  • Hobbes
  • Monism
  • Resistance
  • Spinoza

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