Baruch Spinoza

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Baruch Spinoza (Amsterdam, November 24, 1632 – The Hague, February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher with Portuguese-Jewish roots. See the article Philosophy of Spinoza for a description of his ideas.

Spinoza was born in 1632 in Amsterdam. He was a part of the Jewish community there in a prominent family. He was the middle son and as a boy was very smart. He was a bright pupil in the school and was very gifted. As he went through schooling, Spinoza was expected to be a Rabbi, but at the age of 17 dropped out to help his families export business. Soon afterward he was excommunicated from the community in Amsterdam. The reason for this is unknown, but scholars guess it was his early ideas of what his philosophy would come to be. Spinoza’s God as the universe put all attributes of God as infinite and everything has to attribute to God. Firstly, he defines God as a substance consisting of infinite attributes; and that “there is only one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else that is, is in God.” (Nadler 7). Spinoza then sets up a list of axioms. “Proposition 1: A substance is prior in nature to its affections. Proposition 2: Two substances having different attributes have nothing in common with one another. Proposition 3: If things have nothing in common with one another, one of them cannot be the cause of the other. Proposition 4: Two or more distinct things are distinguished from one another, either by a difference in the attributes [i.e., the natures or essences] of the substances or by a difference in their affections [i.e., their accidental properties]. Proposition 5: In nature, there cannot be two or more substances of the same nature or attribute. Proposition 6: One substance cannot be produced by another substance. Proposition 7: It pertains to the nature of a substance to exist. Proposition 8: Every substance is necessarily infinite. Proposition 9: The more reality or being each thing has, the more attributes belong to it. Proposition 10: Each attribute of a substance must be conceived through itself. Proposition 11: God, or a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence, necessarily exists. Proposition 12: No attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided. Proposition 13: A substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible. Proposition 14: Except God, no substance can be or be conceived.” (Nadler).

These are extremely important to his argument. He starts by proving that no to substances can hold the same attributes. Then he moves on to say “there is a substance with infinite attributes which is God” (Nadler, 8), and this is proven by the ontological argument. So since God is uncaused his substance comes before any other substance. But say there was a second substance. It would have attributes and these attributes would have to be the same as Gods attributes because God holds all attributes because he is infinite. Then according to his seventh axiom, which states that no substances can have the same attributes, the prospect of a second substance is foolish because and disproven. This being said, there can be no second substance and everything must come from the essence or attributes of God. What exists must but come from God and cannot be without him. This is Spinoza’s claim for God as the universe.