Spinoza on Substance

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Irvin Segovia Spinoza Midterm TA Jason The Reality of Substance Part A In this paper I will discuss Spinoza’s view on the nature of substance, specifically on propositions six and seven in part 1 of his Ethics. Proposition six states that one substance cannot be produced by another substance. Spinoza provides the following reasons for this claim: (1) that in the universe there cannot be two substances with the same nature or attribute. This premise stems from proposition five which on closer inspection reveals an ambiguity. It’s not clear as to whether Spinoza meant (a) there cannot be two substances with all the same attributes in common; or (b) there cannot be two substances with an attribute in common. Spinoza uses the phrase “nature or attribute” which suggests that he meant (a) because a substance’s nature constitutes sharing all of the same attributes not just some. This interpretation helps his argument for premise one the most because if substances are distinguished by their attributes, then substances cannot have all the same attributes in common. For Spinoza, substance is something self-conceivable, however, this conception of substance does not work if there are substances that share something in common because we would conceive one substance in terms of an extrinsic property. Hence, our conception of one substance would be understood via an external property in relation with the other substance. Since substances cannot be understood in terms of external properties in relation with each other then they cannot be said to account for one another either because they do not relate to each other. Hence, since they cannot account for another, then they cannot cause or produce one another. From this line of reasoning Spinoza provides the corollary that substance cannot be produced by anything outside of it because there only exist substance and their
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