Per Spinoza, everything ultimately derives from God and as humans are conscious beings through the attribute of thought, would it then follow that God is a conscious being through the attribute of absolute thought?

Update: Adding more details to clarify about the term "consciousness"

When I talk about consciousness, I mean self-awareness. If I were to jump into an isolation tank, I may not be aware of anything outside but I would still be self-aware and still be conscious.

I think that this definition is important because it opens up interesting questions. If God is self-aware, would it then follow that it is possible to communicate with God? When we speak, our words as they can be understood by other individuals, should then be understandable by God. Would it then follow that when we pray either aloud or in silence through thought alone, Spinoza's God can hear the prayer and understand the meaning of the prayer?


1 Answer 1


Spinoza uses the latin expression Deus sive Natura, which translates to "God, it is to say the universe". For Spinoza everything does not derive from God, but everything is God, including you, your thoughts, etc...

If we define consciousness as "the ability to be aware of one's surroundings", it is doubtful if Spinoza's God can be considered conscious. First of all, it has no surroundings, since everything is in it. There is nothing outside of it that it can be aware of.

In the same way, it does not have ideas the way we have them. Our limited mind goes from one idea to another to the extent of its capability, always following the law of necessity (ideas follow one from another, they don't pop out on their own). On the other end Spinoza's God encompasses all the ideas that can ever be had at the same time.

That's why it does not hear prayers, because prayers are already part of it, like the desire that led one to pray in the first time, and like the person praying. In the same way, it won't answer the prayer since it follows the laws of necessity that stems of its own essence. God does not wish anything because it does not lack anything. That means, sadly, that it does not wish to help us (not harm us) and what is bound to happen to us will happen wether we pray or not.

  • I guess it depends how we define consciousness. If consciousness is defined as self-awareness, which I take to mean awareness of the body through the attribute of mind, wouldn't it follow that God is self-aware of the entirety of everything through the attribute of mind? Even if there is no sense of an outside. A person is conscious even when one is introspecting and unaware of anything else. May 27, 2022 at 8:11
  • @LarryFreeman that's why I liked your part about prayer in the question, because it gave a specific case to consider. Anyway, even if we define consciousness as having thoughts, I think it's a whole different kind of consciousness in the case of Spinoza's god for the reasons I listed above.
    – armand
    May 27, 2022 at 8:45
  • Thanks, Arnand. I will try to add back the part about prayer while still keeping tge singlre question. May 28, 2022 at 5:16

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