I have seen this quote attributed second-hand and I wonder if anyone can document its source. Greatly appreciated.

  • 3
    sounds almost like something form the tao te ching. sorry, i am dumb
    – user67675
    Sep 30, 2023 at 22:56
  • 2
    No, you're absolutely right -- I'm struck by the same similarity
    – Dagwood
    Oct 1, 2023 at 0:17
  • hahah. it appears on this site but the section on "beneath abstraction" of the tao te ching superposes being nameless ("the way") with being limtless. at least in some translations
    – user67675
    Oct 1, 2023 at 0:33
  • klein-hass, one of more than 175 translations here, says: "that which is named is that which is limited"
    – user67675
    Oct 1, 2023 at 0:38
  • 1
    No, he did not. The closest is his determinatio est negatio (determination is negation) mentioned in passing in a letter to a friend and made into a quip by Hegel. In liberal translation, it could be "to define is to limit", but the "naming" is not there, and Spinoza is too precise with his language to go for loose Tao-style metaphors.
    – Conifold
    Oct 1, 2023 at 3:38

1 Answer 1


Did Spinoza say,"to name it is to limit it"?

Probably. If he didn’t, he missed the boat, because a Google search pulls up attributions to everyone, everywhere, with the possible exception of Donald Trump. And that is about as specific as I can be.

  • 1
    It seems like a pretty unlimited statement, it would be a shame to associate it with just one person.
    – Scott Rowe
    Oct 3, 2023 at 0:29

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