Benedict de Spinoza

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Posit Bark Defend Alan 

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Notes

  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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    R. L. Sturch, ‘The Cosmological Argument’ (Ph.D. thesis, Oxford University, 1970), p. 181.Google Scholar
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    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
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    James M. Humber, ‘Spinoza’s Proof of God’s Necessary Existence’, Modern Schoolman 49 (1972): 221–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    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

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© William Lane Craig 1980

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  • William Lane Craig

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