Spinoza’s Rethinking of Activity: From the Short Treatise to the Ethics

Andrea Sangiacomo, Ohad Nachtomy

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This paper argues that God's immanent causation and Spinoza's account of activity as adequate causation (of finite modes) do not always go together in Spinoza's thought. We show that there is good reason to doubt that this is the case in Spinoza's early Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well‐being. In the Short Treatise, Spinoza defends an account of God's immanent causation without fully endorsing the account of activity as adequate causation that he will later introduce in the Ethics (E3def2). We turn to an examination of how God's immanent causation relates to the activity of finite things in the Ethics. We consider two ways to think about the link between God, seen as immanent cause, and the activity of finite things: namely, in terms of entailment and in terms of production. We argue that the productive model is most promising for understanding the way in which the activity of finite things and God's immanent causality are connected in Spinoza's (mature) philosophy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-126
Number of pages26
JournalThe Southern Journal of Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2018


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