Title

But Why Was Spinoza a Necessitarian?

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Publication Date

9-1-2013

DOI

10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195335828.013.001

Abstract

Spinoza was of course a necessitarian. But what motivated him to embrace such a troublesome view? This article first recounts the structure of Spinoza’s necessitarianism, recounting the roles of the attributes and infinite modes. It then explores various ways to interpret Spinoza’s claim that all things are necessitated: does that include only actual things? Can there be said to be any nonactual possibles? Finally, the chapter argues that Spinoza’s goals in ethics and in philosophy of religion could have been achieved without necessitarianism and that it was in fact Spinoza’s exceptionally high threshold for explanation that led him to adopt necessitarianism.

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