Critics of Spinoza's concept of the 'immanence' of substance maintain that if everything in the universe is a manifestation of 'deus/sive natura/ sive substantia' then Spinoza cannot account for the finite modalities. This because humans can not conceivably 'share' any properties with god, even if god is not anthropomorphic. By employing a non-mathematical direct proportion demonstration, this critique can be shown to be without merit. Here is the proportion, followed by a bit of information to assist in looking for the answer. Substance/Mode=Sun/orange (the fruit) or, Substance bears the exact same relationship with mode as the Sun has with an orange, or potato or carrot, etc. So the question is, why does this proportional non-mathematical equation, demonstrate verifiably the relationship between 'substance' and 'mode'?

Aids- In mathematics, two varying quantities are said to be in a relation of proportionality, if they are multiplicatively connected to a constant, that is, when either their ratio or their product yields a constant. The value of this constant is called the coefficient of proportionality or proportionality constant.

Spinoza's second type of knowledge- 'Ratio' And-(19:4) Perception arising when the essence of one thing is inferred from another thing, but not adequately; this comes when [f] from some effect we gather its cause, or when it is inferred from some general proposition that some property is always present. TIE- "On the Improvement of the Understanding"(Paragraph- 19-4)

The above excerpt is how Spinoza describes the second type of knowledge, or 'ratio'. We would term it mathematical or logical certainty or verifiability. CMS

  • Why do you assume we can share no properties with God? If everything is a manifestation of God then so are you and me. Or, to put it another way, surely we are God's properties.
    – user20253
    Dec 30 '19 at 12:43
  • @Peter J- It is not me that assumes that. It is the commentators who presented this supposed contradiction in Spinoza's system. CMS
    – user37981
    Dec 30 '19 at 18:29
  • Pardon me for my assumption.I wonder why they assume it. Presumably Spinoza assumes this, but I wasn't aware he did. Is it your impression that he made this assumption about God's properties? It seems to me it would be contrary to his other views, but I'm not student of Spinoza. .
    – user20253
    Dec 30 '19 at 20:58
  • @Peter J- You might want to start with Hegel's criticism of Spinoza's God. A different take on the same subject would be Kant's criticism of Spinoza's God. As for the assumption regarding Spinoza's 'immanent god', this usually revolves around the problem of evil. If there is evil in the world and humans are responsible for it, then if they are part of god, this would make god responsible for evil. Just search for the Problem of Evil in Spinoza's Philosophy. Thanks CMS
    – user37981
    Dec 31 '19 at 16:10
  • Thanks. I'll leave this one to you Spinoza scholars.
    – user20253
    Dec 31 '19 at 17:30

@Geoffrey Thomas- For this analogy to become clear, first consider the relationship between the sun and an orange, [or any other crop]. It is intuitively and scientifically obvious that the sun is the proximate and efficient cause of the production of a piece of fruit; from the sprouting of the seed which when planted becomes a sapling, then becomes a bush which eventually grows into a tree. The sun provides the energy which is chemically converted into what eventually becomes a piece of fruit. If you take the fruit, once it's ripened, and examine it thoroughly, there will be found no discernable or measurable element or trace of the sun's presence in the entire process. Everyone, more or less understands and accepts this as a 'given'. And so the relationship between substance and mode in Spinoza's system is expressed in the same relationship as the sun with an orange, the analogy should give no cause for alarm. It is an intuitive understanding but so is the relationship between the sun and an orange. Mode is a 'modification' of substance. Did not mean to appear cryptic with this but rather to point out that many Spinoza commentators create mysteries where there are none. CMS

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy