Benedict de Spinoza

  • William Lane Craig
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series (LPR)


In its long and variegated history, the cosmological argument probably receives no more unusual a twist than that given it by Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677). Although his version of the argument itself is not so noteworthy and is completely overshadowed by his use of the ontological argument, it is Spinoza’s conclusion to the cosmological argument that is significant and merits its inclusion in our historical survey. For it raises very important questions about the nature of the necessary being to which the argument concludes.


Short Treatise Infinite Attribute Ontological Argument Cosmological Argument Divine Nature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Benedict de Spinoza, Ethic I. Def. I. Quotations from Spinoza Selections, ed. John Wild, The Modern Student’s Library (London: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), p. 94.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stuart Hampshire, Spinoza (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1951), p. 35.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Harold H. Joachim, A Study of the ‘Ethics’ of Spinoza (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901), p. 12.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    J. N. Chubb, ‘Spinoza’s Arguments for the Existence of God’, Indian Journal of Theology 17 (1968): 119–20.Google Scholar
  5. But see Harvey B. Natanson, ‘Spinoza’s God: Some Special Aspects’, Man and World 3 (1970): 210–12. Natanson takes causa sui as meaning the efficient cause of self-existence. Whereas all other beings are caused to exist by eternal factors, only God is caused to exist by internal factors, i.e. his own essence.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Frederick Pollock, Spinoza: His Life and Philosophy, 2nd ed. (London: Duckworth, 1899), p. 149.Google Scholar
  7. Cf. John Wild’s comment in Spinoza, Ethic, p. 94, and E. M. Curley, Spinoza’s Metaphysics: An Essay in Interpretation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 9.
    Spinoza, Ethic I. Axiom IV. Selections p. 95. Thus, according to Jarrett, in Spinoza’s system to be conceived through something is to be explained in terms of it and is equivalent to being caused by it (Charles E. Jarrett, ‘The Concepts of Substance and Mode in Spinoza’, Philosophia 7 [1977]: 83–105).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 13.
    Ibid., I. Def. IV. Selections p. 94. Whether the attributes are aspectival only or really distinct in substance and whether this destroys Spinoza’s monism is one of the most disputed topics of Spinoza scholarship. Cf. Harry Austryn Wolfson, The Philosophy of Spinoza 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1934), 1: 146–57; Curley, Metaphysics pp. 16–17;Google Scholar
  10. H. F. Hallett, Benedict de Spinoza: The Elements of his Philosophy (London: Athlone Press, 1957), pp. 9–53;Google Scholar
  11. Martial Gueroult, Spinoza I: Dieu (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1968), pp. 47–56;Google Scholar
  12. Alan Donagan, ‘Essence and thé Distinction of Attributes in Spinoza’s Metaphysics’, in Spinoza: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Marjorie Grene, Modern Studies in Philosophy (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday; Anchor Books, 1973), pp. 164–81;Google Scholar
  13. Claude Troisfontaines, ‘Dieu dans le premier livre de l’Éthique’, Revue philosophique de Louvain 72 (1974): 467–81;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Thomas Carson Mark, ‘The Spinozistic Attributes’, Philosophia 7 (1977): 55–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    James Martineau, A Study of Spinoza, 3rd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1895), p. 173.Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    R. L. Sturch, ‘The Cosmological Argument’ (Ph.D. thesis, Oxford University, 1970), p. 181.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    Joachim, Study pp. 51–3. Joachim’s view is upheld by Lee C. Rice ‘Methodology and Modality in the First Part of Spinoza’s Ethics’, in Spinoza on Knowing, Being and Freedom ed. J. G. Van Der Bend (Netherlands: Van Gorcum & Co., 1974), p. 152. ‘The proofs in the Ethics depend simply upon the existence of something as their point of departure’ (ibid.).Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    James M. Humber, ‘Spinoza’s Proof of God’s Necessary Existence’, Modern Schoolman 49 (1972): 221–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 21.
    André Doz, ‘Remarques sur les onze premières propositions de l’Éthique de Spinoza’, Revue de métaphysique et de morale 81 (1976): 260.Google Scholar
  20. 34.
    H. G. Hubbeling, Spinoza’s Methodology (Groningen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum & Comp., 1964), pp. 87–90.Google Scholar
  21. Also cf. Hubbeling, Methodology, pp. 56–7; Leon Roth, Spinoza (London: Ernest Benn, 1929), p. 59.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© William Lane Craig 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Lane Craig

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations