Referring by "God" to Spinoza's God (that is, one may substitute "God" with "Nature" following the title of this question can be "On Nature and Nature's Essence and Essence") and capitalizing this as Nature (vs. common nature in a broader sense)

My question is, for Spinoza,

1a) does God have (an) essence?

1b) if yes, what is the difference between God and the essence of God?

2a) does God's essence exist?

2b) does God's essence have (an) essence?

3) can the essence be "decomposed" of a "combination" of essential properties, or would essence be "non-divisible" somehow?

I would like the possible answers to be based on Spinoza's works. I understand that Spinoza may say yes, as I interpret his work, to question 1a, so you may proceed to 1b directly. If you are familiar with the idea of formal essence and actual essence, please help me understand whether the essence of God refers to formal essence or actual essence. Or you may provide some texts in Spinoza's work that may be interpreted in a way such that may reach a "no" for 1a. The central puzzle I encounter regarding 2a, 2b is based on Spinoza's statement, as I read it, of the existence as (at least, part of) the actual essence. The third question may be less relevant to what Spinoza suggests in his works, but rather relevant to what you think.

1 Answer 1


See Spinoza's Theory of Attributes and Spinoza's Modal Metaphysics.

Spinoza defines the term “attribute” thus: “By attribute I understand what the intellect perceives of substance as constituting its essence” (Ethics, 1D4). This definition is reminiscent of Descartes' notion of attributes as it appears in the Principle of Philosophy insofar as attributes are related to the essence (or essences) of substance.

Another claim that has to be taken into account in an analysis of Spinoza's view on attributes is that God is his attributes:

[Ethics, 1P4:] “Therefore, there is nothing outside the intellect through which a number of things can be distinguished from one another except substance, or what is the same (by 1D4), their attributes, and their affections” (italics added), [1P19:] “God is eternal, or all God's attributes are eternal,” [1P20Cor.:] “It follows second, that God, or all of God's attributes, are immutable.” Some might consider 1P29Schol to be making an identity claim as well: “But by Natura Naturata I understand whatever follows from the necessity of God's nature, or from any of God's attributes…” Spinoza in these places seems to be claiming that there is an identification of the substance with its attributes.

Thus, if attributes constitute the essence, and if God his is attribute, then we can conclude that :

(i) God is his essence

(ii) God's essence exists, because it is God itself.

  • Ethics Part 1Prop.20- "The existence of god and his essence are one and the same." For a complete description of Deus sive Natura, visit: charlessaunders5.academia.edu- download- To Discern Divinty. Cheers, CS
    – user37981
    Mar 30, 2019 at 14:19

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