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Argument for Monism

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  • stefinsb
    Hello everyone! I am new to your group. My name is Stephanie and I am a philosophy sudent at UC Berkeley. As you may well imagine, there is no shorage of
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 3, 2002
      Hello everyone! I am new to your group. My name is Stephanie and I
      am a philosophy sudent at UC Berkeley. As you may well imagine,
      there is no shorage of people to chat about Spinoza with, but
      sometimes I like to hear things from a different perspective.
      Besides, this is so different!

      We are currently reading Spinoza's Ethics and I came across something
      rather interesting.

      Spinoza establishes, in P5, that there cannot be mre than one
      substance in the universe with the same nature or attribute. But in
      the second Scholium following P8 he offers a second, unofficial proof
      for the same proposition. This proof makes use of P7 (existence
      belongs to the nature of substance).

      My question to you is...do you think this proof is successful? I am
      having a little trouble figuring it out. Would Kant not have a field
      day with the the proposition "Existence belongs to the nature of
      subsance"? Can you guys think of any other worries about the proof?

      Thanks...I look forward to your input!
      -Stephanie
    • Lancelot R. Fletcher
      Dear Stephanie, ... I am the owner of the spinoza-ethics group (as well as a number of other philosophy-related discussion lists sponsored by The Free Lance
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
        Dear Stephanie,

        > Hello everyone! I am new to your group. My name is Stephanie and I
        > am a philosophy sudent at UC Berkeley. As you may well imagine,
        > there is no shorage of people to chat about Spinoza with, but
        > sometimes I like to hear things from a different perspective.
        > Besides, this is so different!

        I am the owner of the spinoza-ethics group (as well as a number of other
        philosophy-related discussion lists sponsored by The Free Lance Academy). I
        warmly welcome you. As for there being no shortage of people to chat with
        about Spinoza, based on my experience that is harder for me to imagine that
        it seems to be for you -- but if that is what you find at Berkeley I think
        you are fortunate -- unless it turns out that they are really chatting about
        the rock band that calls itself Spinoza (see http://www.spinoza.com)

        >
        > We are currently reading Spinoza's Ethics

        Who is "We" in this sentence? Are you reading the Ethics in a course, or do
        you have an independent study group of some kind?


        and I came across something
        > rather interesting.
        >
        > Spinoza establishes, in P5, that there cannot be mre than one
        > substance in the universe with the same nature or attribute.

        Perhaps it is a quibble, but I think "in the universe", which I assume you
        took from the Elwes translation, may not be an accurate rendition of what
        Spinoza wrote. I don't know of any place where Spinoza uses the expression,
        "the universe." Curley uses, "in Nature," but I think this, while better, is
        also not quite exact. The Latin text is, "PROPOSITIO V. In rerum natura non
        possunt dari duae aut plures substantiae eiusdem naturae sive attributi."
        The question for me is, why do both translators omit any reference to
        "rerum" in their translations of this proposition?

        It occurs to me that "In rerum natura" might mean "In the nature of things,"
        or it might mean, "Among the things of nature..." Unfortunately, my
        knowledge of Latin grammar is next to zero, so I need some help here. But in
        any case it seems to me that Spinoza's use of "rerum" is probably not
        arbitrary or insignificant. Wherever he cites IP5 later in Part I, he uses
        the expression "in rerum natura." He uses "in natura" on a few occasions in
        scholia, but the first proposition in whose demonstration the expression "in
        natura" occurs is IP30, and it may be significant that this is the first
        proposition after the scholium in which Spinoza distinguishes between
        "natura naturans" and "natura naturata".

        But in
        > the second Scholium following P8 he offers a second, unofficial proof
        > for the same proposition. This proof makes use of P7 (existence
        > belongs to the nature of substance).

        Your last statement above is inaccurate. The proof of a proposition that is
        more or less equivalent to IP5 which appears in IP8S2 does NOT make use of
        IP7. Not only is IP7 not cited in that proof, but in the place where the
        content of IP7 is repeated it is referred to as having been inferred from
        "what we have already shown in this scholium," which is not what Spinoza
        would say if he were citing an already demonstrated proposition from the
        "official" part of the Ethics.

        >
        > My question to you is...do you think this proof is successful?

        My question to you, Stephanie, is, how would you judge the success of this
        proof (I assume you are referring to the "unofficial" proof of the
        proposition that there is only one substance of the same nature)? What
        counts, for you, as the success of a proof? If the proof presents the
        proposition as a valid logical inference from its premises, is this a
        successful proof, or do you also require that the premises themselves be
        somehow demonstrated? If the latter, then you may be requiring something
        that Spinoza never claims to provide, since Spinoza's definitions are
        nominal or stipulative definitions and he nowhere claims that they are "real
        definitions" or self-evident truths (and he himself discusses the
        distinction between real and nominal definitions, so we cannot claim that he
        was confused on this point)?

        > I am
        > having a little trouble figuring it out. Would Kant not have a field
        > day with the the proposition "Existence belongs to the nature of
        > subsance"?

        Perhaps not as much as you think. Although Kant's use of the word
        "substance" in the first analogy differs somewhat from Spinoza's, he clearly
        agrees that substance is not equivalent to an ordinary, externally
        conditioned thing.

        > Can you guys think of any other worries about the proof?

        I don't say worries, but I can think of some other questions that it raises.
        For example, why does Spinoza provide a second proof of IP5 (or of a
        proposition that seems essentially the same as IP5)? And if he felt the
        need to provide an alternate proof, why not offer it as part of the
        demonstration of IP5? Perhaps because it needs to come after the
        introduction of the notion that it pertains to the nature of substance to
        exist (although, as I pointed out above, IP7 is not actually cited in the
        proof contained in IP8S2). But in that case why not put it into a scholium
        to IP7? Why put it into the second scholium to IP8? In what way does the
        proof contained in IP8S2 reflect or depend on IP8?

        I will try to say something about the proofs of IP5 and IP8S2 in a later
        message.

        Lancelot Fletcher
        writing from Tbilisi
      • Kelly Timothy Lynch
        On Sun, 7 Apr 2002, Lancelot R. Fletcher wrote: For the moment I only want to make a very brief comment on one little point -- perhaps in time I can add more.
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
          On Sun, 7 Apr 2002, Lancelot R. Fletcher wrote:

          For the moment I only want to make a very brief comment
          on one little point -- perhaps in time I can add more.


          > Perhaps it is a quibble, but I think "in the universe", which I assume you
          > took from the Elwes translation, may not be an accurate rendition of what
          > Spinoza wrote. I don't know of any place where Spinoza uses the expression,
          > "the universe." Curley uses, "in Nature," but I think this, while better, is
          > also not quite exact. The Latin text is, "PROPOSITIO V. In rerum natura non
          > possunt dari duae aut plures substantiae eiusdem naturae sive attributi."
          > The question for me is, why do both translators omit any reference to
          > "rerum" in their translations of this proposition?
          >
          > It occurs to me that "In rerum natura" might mean "In the nature of things,"
          > or it might mean, "Among the things of nature..." Unfortunately, my
          > knowledge of Latin grammar is next to zero, so I need some help here. But in
          > any case it seems to me that Spinoza's use of "rerum" is probably not
          > arbitrary or insignificant. Wherever he cites IP5 later in Part I, he uses
          > the expression "in rerum natura." He uses "in natura" on a few occasions in
          > scholia, but the first proposition in whose demonstration the expression "in
          > natura" occurs is IP30, and it may be significant that this is the first
          > proposition after the scholium in which Spinoza distinguishes between
          > "natura naturans" and "natura naturata".

          [snip material not because it is uninteresting or not of
          value, but because it is not what I am commenting on now]

          Probably your instinct that "in the nature of things" is
          closer to what Spinoza had in mind is correct. When I
          work with Spinoza's text I actually usually have four
          versions at hand: the Latin original, the two common
          English translations, and a German translation. I am
          fluent in English and German, with some weak Latin.
          "in the nature of things" is what I find in the German,
          and this does fit the latin better, it seems to me.
          As for Spinoza's Latin, it is worth noting that it is
          far from classical Latin. Even as a "dead" language,
          if we may call it that, it went through some evolution.
          What we find with Spinoza is a kind of late scholastic
          Latin, and even at that it is at times a bit eccentric.

          Take care for now,



          Kelly Timothy Lynch || "Dei potentia est
          ktlynch@... || ipsa ipsius essentia."
          Toronto, Ontario, Canada || Spinoza
        • Terry Neff
          Hi Stephanie, A few things came to mind while reading your post: ... Notice at this point he is still dealing in the abstract with substance and the
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 8, 2002
            Hi Stephanie,

            A few things came to mind while reading your post:

            <snip>
            > Spinoza establishes, in P5, that there cannot be mre than
            > one substance in the universe with the same nature or
            > attribute.

            Notice at this point he is still dealing in the abstract with substance
            and the attributes of substance. He even starts the proof with "If several
            distinct substances be granted..." though he will soon show that there is
            only one substance and that the one substance consists of infinite
            attributes. Still, at this point he is referring to multiple substances and
            merely shows that if they exist as distinct they must have different
            attributes.

            > But in the second Scholium following P8 he
            > offers a second, unofficial proof for the same proposition.

            Is it the same proposition? or is he now showing further that there can
            only exist one substance (whether consisting in finite or infinite
            attributes still remains to be shown at this point) since existence belongs
            to the nature of substance. He seems to be showing here that we can not
            actually grant "...several distinct substances." as he did abstractly in
            words for the proof of P5.

            > This proof makes use of P7 (existence belongs to the nature
            > of substance).
            <snip>

            To me, the reference to P7 in the first part of the second Scholium
            following P8 is as important and perhaps even more revealing with regard to
            the depth of Spinoza's thought than is the proof in the latter part. He
            says:

            ========= E1: PROP. 8, Note 2:
            No doubt it will be difficult for those who think about things loosely,
            and have not been accustomed to know them by their primary causes, to
            comprehend the demonstration of E1P7 [Existence belongs to the nature of
            substance.]: for such persons make no distinction between the modifications
            of substances and the substances themselves, and are ignorant of the manner
            in which things are produced; hence they attribute to substances the
            beginning which they observe in natural objects....

            But, if people would consider the nature of substance, they would have
            no doubt about the truth of E1P7. In fact, this proposition would be a
            universal axiom, and accounted a truism. For, by substance, would be
            understood that which is in itself, and is conceived through itself--that
            is, something of which the conception requires not the conception of
            anything else; whereas modifications exist in something external to
            themselves, and a conception of them is formed by means of a conception of
            the thing in which they exist.
            =========

            If we go beyond abstraction and begin to know Substance Intuitively (the
            only way we can "really" know Substance is through itself) we will no longer
            need to follow step by step through these propositions. Spinoza says above:

            "...if people would consider the nature of substance, they would have no
            doubt about the truth of E1P7. In fact, this proposition would be a
            universal axiom, and accounted a truism."

            so if we look for the "final truth" about substance through inference and
            reason only it will be as though we continue to stare at the shadows on the
            wall in Plato's Cave while Spinoza stands outside in Glorious Sunlight
            beckoning us to turn in a different "direction". Of course Spinoza mentioned
            in the TEI with regard to a person's investigations of nature:

            =========== TEI-P43(38):
            ...if he had acquired new ideas in the proper order, according to the
            standard of the original true idea, he would never have doubted of the truth
            of his knowledge, inasmuch as truth, as we have shown, makes itself
            manifest, and all things would flow, as it were, spontaneously toward him.
            But as this never, or rarely, happens, I have been forced so to arrange my
            proceedings, that we may acquire by reflection and forethought what we
            cannot acquire by chance...
            ===========

            Of course we need to reflect and apply forethought [the 2nd Kind of
            Knowledge] to our study of Spinoza's Ethics while keeping our "Inner Eye"
            open for the Third Kind of Knowledge regarding the One Infinite and Eternal
            Substance.

            I think Lance makes an important point in asking "...how would you judge
            the success of this proof?" If we concern ourselves with what others accept
            or reject and especially if we simply "believe" things because we accept the
            authority of Kant or even of Spinoza himself then we are dealing with the
            First Kind of Knowledge. One of the hardest things for me to realize is that
            when Spinoza shows that:

            ========== E5: PROP. 30:
            Our mind, in so far as it knows itself and the body under the form of
            eternity, has to that extent necessarily a knowledge of God, and knows that
            it is in God, and is conceived through God.
            ==========

            He means My Mind knowing Itself, not my "knowing" the mind in general
            terms or "knowing" the mind of someone else.

            Regards,
            Terry
          • Lancelot R. Fletcher
            ... I wrote my commentary on IP5 shortly after posting that message and then started working on IP8S2. Since I have not yet found time to complete the
            Message 5 of 5 , Apr 14, 2002
              In my message of April 7, 2002, after posing a number of questions, I said:

              > I will try to say something about the proofs of IP5 and IP8S2 in a later
              > message.

              I wrote my commentary on IP5 shortly after posting that message and then
              started working on IP8S2. Since I have not yet found time to complete the
              commentary on IP8S2, however, I have decided to post the comment on IP5 now.

              Proof of IP5

              Text:

              IP5: In nature there cannot be two or more substances of the same nature or
              attribute.

              Proof: If there were two or more distinct substances, they would have to be
              distinguished from one another either by a difference in their attributes,
              or by a difference in their affections (by IP4). If only by a difference in
              their attributes, then it will be conceded that there is only one of the
              same attribute. But if by a difference in their affections, then since a
              substance is prior in nature to its affections, (by IP1), if the affections
              are put to one side and [the substance] is considered in itself, i.e. (by
              ID3 and IA6), considered truly, one cannot be conceived to be distinguished
              from another, i.e. (by IP4), there cannot be many, but only one [of the same
              nature or attribute].

              Comment:

              The overall strategy of this proof may be characterized as an application of
              the principle of "the identity of indiscernibles" which is often identified
              with Leibniz. That principle is not here explicitly stated, but we could add
              it to the beginning of the proof as follows, without changing the meaning of
              the proof: If there were two or more distinct substances, they would have to
              be distinguished from one another by a discernible difference of some kind.
              But from IP4 we learn that two or more distinct things can be distinguished
              from one another only by a difference in the attributes of substance or by a
              difference of their affections and by nothing else.

              The second part of the proof is fairly straightforward: If the only
              difference by which two substances could be distinguished was a difference
              of attributes, then there could not be two substances of the same attribute,
              since, having the same attribute and not being distinguishable by any other
              difference, the two substances would therefore be indistinguishable.

              The third part of the proof is where things begin to get really interesting:
              Here Spinoza addresses the possibility that two substances of the same
              attribute might be distinguished by having different affections. This is
              the case which corresponds with common sense, since we commonly speak of
              things which are the same in form but different numerically or materially or
              in terms of their accidents.

              Let's read again Spinoza's proof of IP5 for the case in which substances of
              the same attribute are supposed to be distinguished by a difference of
              affections:

              "But if by a difference in their affections, then since a substance is prior
              in nature to its affections, (by IP1), if the affections are put to one side
              and [the substance] is considered in itself, i.e. (by ID3 and IA6),
              considered truly, one cannot be conceived to be distinguished from another,
              i.e. (by IP4), there cannot be many, but only one [of the same nature or
              attribute]."

              I would be willing to bet that there are few readers of Spinoza who are not
              in some degree puzzled or dissatisfied by this argument.

              At first sight, this clause may seem extremely dubious, and the citation of
              IA6 in this connection might almost seem ridiculous. I think the reason for
              this slight sense of absurdity is that we tend to hold the notion of a true
              idea as something truly serious, something beyond mere speech. We read in
              IA6, "A true idea must agree with its object." ["Idea vera debet cum suo
              ideato convenire."] Then, when Spinoza speaks of considering "it", i.e.
              substance, "truly," our first impulse may be to ask, "Well, how does he know
              that this really is a true idea of substance?"

              But what is the agreement between idea and ideatum to which Spinoza is
              pointing when he says, "...[if the substance] is considered in itself, i.e.
              (by ID3 and IA6), considered truly..."? Is Spinoza here referring to an
              agreement between our conception of Substance and substance as it really and
              truly is -- the Platonic idea of Substance? Not at all. Spinoza is simply
              referring to the agreement between how we are considering substance now (in
              this proof) and how substance is defined in ID3. In other words, to
              consider substance truly means to consider it in terms of its definition.

              If this seems a little too simple, let me complicate it with the following
              thought: If we re-read ID3, we see that this phrase, "...[if the substance]
              is considered in itself, i.e. (by ID3 and IA6), considered truly..." has a
              double meaning. The first meaning is general in the sense that it does not
              necessarily pertain to substance. To consider anything truly, it seems,
              means to consider it "in itself," and that in turn means to consider it in
              terms of its definition. But substance is defined by Spinoza as "...what is
              in itself and is conceived through itself..." So to consider substance truly
              means to consider in itself that which is in itself [and is conceived
              through itself.]

              This suggests that the conception of substance possesses intrinsically that
              which belongs to a true idea extrinsically. (I am intentionally alluding
              here to Spinoza's definition of "adequate idea" in IID4.) And it should make
              us alert for evidence that there is a very intimate connection between the
              conception of substance and the idea of an idea. The more explicit lesson
              to be drawn from the proof of IP5, however, to repeat what I said above, is
              that a true idea of substance consists of an act of considering the nature
              of substance, which act of consideration corresponds to the way in which
              substance is defined in ID3. Therefore, the holding of a true idea of
              substance _means_ disregarding the affections of substance.

              Lancelot Fletcher
              writing from Tbilisi
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