Spinning Strands into Aspects: Realism, Idealism, and Finite Modes in Spinoza

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Abstract

There is a long tradition of reading Spinoza as committed, perhaps unwillingly, to the non-reality of finite modes. While acknowledging that Spinoza does seem to rely on the reality of modes in certain places, Michael Della Rocca has called attention to what he labels an “idealist strand.” As a concluding remark in “Steps Toward Eleaticism in Spinoza's Philosophy of Action,” he claims that faced with these two conflicting strands, which are genuinely to be found in the text, it is better to note both rather than artificially imposing a unity on the text. In this paper, I suggest that one need not admit two conflicting strands in Spinoza, on the one hand, nor arbitrarily disregard one strand, on the other. Rather, I argue for a unified view that diagnoses what gives rise to both seemingly conflicting strands. The key to this enterprise is recognizing that finite modes, paradoxically seeming perhaps at first, are not wholly finite. That is, a finite mode is determined by the totality of finite modes—wherein lies its finite aspect, but at the same time, and equally, partially actively determines this totality—wherein lies its infinite aspect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-336
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Philosophy
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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