Spinozism (also spelled Spinozaism) is the monist philosophical system of Benedict de Spinoza that defines "God" as a singular self-subsistent Substance, with both matter and thought being attributes of such.

In a letter to Henry Oldenburg, Spinoza wrote: "as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken".[1] For Spinoza, our universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in our world. According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers, when Spinoza wrote "Deus sive Natura" ("God or Nature") Spinoza meant God was Natura naturans not Natura naturata, that is, "a dynamic nature in action, growing and changing, not a passive or static thing."

Part of the series on
17th-century scholasticism

Protestant Reformation

17th-century scholastics

Second scholasticism of the Jesuits and the Dominicans
Lutheran scholasticism during Lutheran Orthodoxy
Ramism among the Reformed scholastics
Metaphysical poets in the Church of England

Reactions within Christianity

Labadists against the Jesuits
Pietism against orthodox Lutherans
Nadere Reformatie within Dutch Calvinism
Richard Hooker against the Ramists

Reactions within philosophy

Modernists against Roman Catholics
Neologists against Lutherans
Spinozists against Dutch Calvinists
Deists against English Christianity
John Locke against Bishop Stillingfleet

Core doctrine

In Spinozism, the concept of a personal relationship with God comes from the position that one is a part of an infinite interdependent "organism." Spinoza argued that everything is a derivative of God, interconnected with all of existence. Although humans experience only thought and extension, what happens to one aspect of existence will affect others. Thus, Spinozism teaches a form of determinism and ecology, and uses these as a basis for morality.

Additionally, a core doctrine of Spinozism is that the universe is essentially deterministic. All that happens or will happen could not have unfolded in any other way. Spinoza claimed that the third kind of knowledge, intuition, is the highest kind. More specifically, he defined intuition as the ability of the human intellect to intuit knowledge based upon its accumulated understanding of the world.

Spinoza's metaphysics consists of one thing, Substance, and its modifications (modes). Early in The Ethics Spinoza argues that there is only one Substance, which is absolutely infinite, self-caused, and eternal. Substance causes an infinite number of attributes (the intellect perceiving an abstract concept or essence) and modes (things following from attributes and modes). He calls this Substance "God", or "Nature". In fact, he takes these two terms to be synonymous (in the Latin the phrase he uses is "Deus sive Natura"), but readers often disregard his neutral monism. During his time, this statement was seen as literally equating the existing world with God - for which he was accused of atheism. Spinoza asserted that the whole of the natural universe is made of one Substance – God or Nature – and its modifications (modes).

It cannot be overemphasized how the rest of Spinoza's philosophy, his philosophy of mind, epistemology, psychology, moral philosophy, political philosophy, and philosophy of religion – flows more or less directly from the metaphysical underpinnings in Part I of the Ethics.[2]

One should, however, remember the neutral monist position. While the natural universe humans experience in the realm of mind and physical reality is part of God, it is only two attributes – thought and extension – that are part of infinite attributes emanating from God.

Spinoza's doctrine was considered radical at the time he published, and he was widely seen as the most infamous atheist-heretic of Europe. His philosophy was part of the philosophic debate in Europe during the Enlightenment, along with Cartesianism. Specifically, Spinoza disagreed with Descartes on substance duality, Descartes' views on the will and the intellect, and the subject of free will.[3]


Spinoza defines "Substance" as follows:

By substance I understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed. (E1D3)[4]

This means, essentially, that Substance is just whatever can be thought of without relating it to any other idea or thing. For example, if one thinks of a particular object, one thinks of it as a kind of thing, e.g., x is a cat. Substance, on the other hand, is to be conceived of by itself, without understanding it as a particular kind of thing, because it isn't a particular thing.


Spinoza defines "attribute" as follows:

By attribute I understand what the intellect perceives of a substance, as constituting its essence. (E1D4)[4]

From this it can be seen that Attributes are related to Substance. It is not clear, however, even from Spinoza's direct definition, whether, a) Attributes are really the way(s) Substance is, or b) Attributes are simply ways to understand Substance, but not necessarily the ways it really is. Spinoza thinks that there are an infinite number of Attributes, but there are two Attributes for which Spinoza thinks we can have knowledge. Namely, thought and extension.[5]


The attribute of thought is how Substance can be understood to be composed of thoughts, i.e., thinking things. When we understand a particular thing through the Attribute of thought, we are understanding the mode as an idea of something (either another idea, or an object).


The Attribute of extension is how Substance can be understood to be physically extended in space. Particular things that occupy space are what is meant by extended. It follows from this that if Substance and God are identical, in Spinoza's view, and contrary to the traditional conception, God has extension as one of his Attributes.


Modes are particular modifications of substance, i.e., particular things in the world. Spinoza gives the following definition:

By mode I understand the affections of a substance, or that which is in another through which it is also conceived. (E1D5)[4]

Substance monism

The argument for there only being one Substance (or, more colloquially, one kind of stuff) in the universe occurs in the first fourteen propositions of The Ethics. The following proposition expresses Spinoza's commitment to substance monism:

Except God, no substance can be or be conceived. (E1P14)[4]

Spinoza takes this proposition to follow directly from everything he says prior to it. Spinoza's monism is contrasted with Descartes' dualism and Leibniz's pluralism. Thus, Spinoza avoids the unsolvable problem of how mind and body interact, which troubled Descartes in his Meditations on First Philosophy. Specifically, how can immaterial mind interface with material body, and vice-versa? They exist in wholly different categories.

Causality and modality

The issue of causality and modality (possibility and necessity) in Spinoza's philosophy is contentious.[6] Spinoza's philosophy is, in one sense, thoroughly deterministic (or necessitarian). This can be seen directly from Axiom 3 of The Ethics:

From a given determinate cause the effect follows necessarily; and conversely, if there is no determinate cause, it is impossible for an effect to follow. (E1A3)[4]

Yet Spinoza seems to make room for a kind of freedom, especially in the fifth and final section of The Ethics, "On the Power of the Intellect, or on Human Freedom":

I pass now to the remaining Part of the Ethics, which concerns the means or way to Freedom. Here, then, I shall treat of the power of reason, showing what it can do against the affects, and what Freedom of Mind, or blessedness, is. (E5, Preface)[4]

So Spinoza certainly has a use for the word 'freedom', but he equates "Freedom of Mind" with "blessedness", a notion which is not traditionally associated with freedom of the will at all.

The principle of sufficient reason (PSR)

Though the PSR is most commonly associated with Gottfried Leibniz, it is arguably found in its strongest form in Spinoza's philosophy.[7] Within the context of Spinoza's philosophical system, the PSR can be understood to unify causation and explanation.[8] What this means is that for Spinoza, questions regarding the reason why a given phenomenon is the way it is (or exists) are always answerable, and are always answerable in terms of the relevant cause(s). This constitutes a rejection of teleological, or final causation, except possibly in a more restricted sense for human beings.[4][8] Given this, Spinoza's views regarding causality and modality begin to make much more sense.


Spinoza's philosophy contains as a key proposition the notion that mental and physical (thought and extension) phenomena occur in parallel, but without causal interaction between them. He expresses this proposition as follows:

The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things. (E2P7)[4]

His proof of this proposition is that:

The knowledge of an effect depends on, and involves, the knowledge of its cause. (E1A4)[4]

The reason Spinoza thinks parallelism follows from this axiom is that, since the idea we have of each thing requires knowledge of its cause, such a cause must be understood under the same attribute. Further, there is only one substance, so whenever we understand some chain of ideas concerning things, we understand that the way the ideas are causally related must be the same as the way the things themselves are related, since the ideas and the things are the same modes, but understood under different attributes.

Pantheism controversy

In 1785, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi published a condemnation of Spinoza's pantheism, after Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was thought to have confessed on his deathbed to being a "Spinozist", which was the equivalent in his time of being called a heretic. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza's doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Moses Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that there is no actual difference between theism and pantheism. The entire issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time, which Immanuel Kant rejected, as he thought that attempts to conceive of transcendent reality would lead to antinomies (statements that could be proven both right and wrong) in thought.

The attraction of Spinoza's philosophy to late eighteenth-century Europeans was that it provided an alternative to materialism, atheism, and deism. Three of Spinoza's ideas strongly appealed to them:

  • the unity of all that exists;
  • the regularity of all that happens; and
  • the identity of spirit and nature.

Spinoza's "God or Nature" [Deus sive Natura] provided a living, natural God, in contrast to the Newtonian mechanical "First Cause" or the dead mechanism of the French "Man Machine." Coleridge and Shelley saw in Spinoza's philosophy a religion of nature[9] and called him the "God-intoxicated Man."[10][11] Spinoza inspired the poet Shelley to write his essay "The Necessity of Atheism."[10]

Spinoza was considered to be an atheist because he used the word "God" [Deus] to signify a concept that was different from that of traditional Judeo–Christian monotheism. "Spinoza expressly denies personality and consciousness to God; he has neither intelligence, feeling, nor will; he does not act according to purpose, but everything follows necessarily from his nature, according to law...."[12] Thus, Spinoza's cool, indifferent God differs from the concept of an anthropomorphic, fatherly God who cares about humanity.[13]

Modern interpretations

German philosopher Karl Jaspers believed that Spinoza, in his philosophical system, did not mean to say that God and Nature are interchangeable terms, but rather that God's transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God's immanence.[14] Even God under the attributes of thought and extension cannot be identified strictly with our world. That world is of course "divisible"; it has parts. But Spinoza insists that "no attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided" (Which means that one cannot conceive an attribute in a way that leads to division of substance), and that "a substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible" (Ethics, Part I, Propositions 12 and 13).[15] Following this logic, our world should be considered as a mode under two attributes of thought and extension. Therefore, the pantheist formula "One and All" would apply to Spinoza only if the "One" preserves its transcendence and the "All" were not interpreted as the totality of finite things.[14]

French philosopher Martial Guéroult suggested the term "panentheism", rather than "pantheism" to describe Spinoza's view of the relation between God and the world. The world is not God, but it is, in a strong sense, "in" God. Not only do finite things have God as their cause; they cannot be conceived without God.[15] In other words, the world is a subset of God. American philosopher Charles Hartshorne, on the other hand, suggested the term "Classical Pantheism" to describe Spinoza's philosophy.[16]

Speculative realism, a movement in post-continental philosophy, is highly indebted to spinozaist metaphysics.[17]

Comparison to Eastern philosophies

Similarities between Spinoza's philosophy and Eastern philosophical traditions have been discussed by many authorities. The 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstücker was one of the early figures to notice the similarities between Spinoza's religious conceptions and the Vedanta tradition of India, writing that Spinoza's thought was "... a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus, did his biography not satisfy us that he was wholly unacquainted with their doctrines... We mean the philosophy of Spinoza, a man whose very life is a picture of that moral purity and intellectual indifference to the transitory charms of this world, which is the constant longing of the true Vedanta philosopher... comparing the fundamental ideas of both we should have no difficulty in proving that, had Spinoza been a Hindu, his system would in all probability mark a last phase of the Vedanta philosophy."[18][19]

It has been said that Spinozism is similar to the Hindu doctrines of Samkhya and Yoga. Though within the various existing Indian traditions there exist many traditions which astonishingly had such similar doctrines from ages, out of which most similar and well known are the Kashmiri Shaivism and Nath tradition, apart from already existing Samkhya and Yoga.[20]

Max Muller, in his lectures, noted the striking similarities between Vedanta and the system of Spinoza, saying "the Brahman, as conceived in the Upanishads and defined by Sankara, is clearly the same as Spinoza's 'Substantia'."[21] Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society also compared Spinoza's religious thought to Vedanta, writing in an unfinished essay "As to Spinoza's Deity – natura naturans – conceived in his attributes simply and alone; and the same Deity – as natura naturata or as conceived in the endless series of modifications or correlations, the direct outflowing results from the properties of these attributes, it is the Vedantic Deity pure and simple."[22]

See also


  1. ^ Correspondence of Benedict de Spinoza, Wilder Publications (March 26, 2009), ISBN 1-60459-156-0, letter 73
  2. ^ Della Rocca, Michael. (2008). Spinoza. Routledge., pg. 33.
  3. ^ Michael L. Morgan, ed., Spinoza: Complete Works, translated by Samuel Shirley (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2002), 119n6.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Curley, Edwin M. (1985). The Collected Works of Spinoza. Princeton University Press.
  5. ^ Stanford.edu
  6. ^ Stanford.edu
  7. ^ Della Rocca, Michael. (2008). Spinoza, Routledge.
  8. ^ a b Della Rocca, Spinoza, 2008.
  9. ^ Anthony Gottlieb. "God Exists, Philosophically (review of "Spinoza: A Life" by Steven Nadler)". The New York Times – Books. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  10. ^ a b Harold Bloom (book reviewer) (June 16, 2006). "Deciphering Spinoza, the Great Original – Book review of "Betraying Spinoza. The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity." By Rebecca Goldstein". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  11. ^ Hutchison, Percy (November 20, 1932). "Spinoza, "God-Intoxicated Man"; Three Books Which Mark the Three Hundredth Anniversary of the Philosopher's Birth BLESSED SPINOZA. A Biography. By Lewis Browne. 319 pp. New York: The Macmillan Company. $4. SPINOZA. Liberator of God and Man. By Benjamin De Casseres, 145pp. New York: E. Wickham Sweetland. $2. SPINOZA THE BIOSOPHER. By Frederick Kettner. Introduc- tion by Nicholas Roerich, New Era Library. 255 pp. New York: Roerich Museum Press. $2.50. Spinoza". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  12. ^ Frank Thilly, A History of Philosophy, § 47, Holt & Co., New York, 1914
  13. ^ "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.” These words were spoken by Albert Einstein, upon being asked if he believed in God by Rabbi Herbert Goldstein of the Institutional Synagogue, New York, April 24, 1921, published in the New York Times, April 25, 1929; from Einstein: The Life and Times Ronald W. Clark, New York: World Publishing Co., 1971, p. 413; also cited as a telegram to a Jewish newspaper, 1929, Einstein Archive 33–272, from Alice Calaprice, ed., The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
  14. ^ a b Karl Jaspers, Spinoza (Great Philosophers), Harvest Books (October 23, 1974), ISBN 0-15-684730-2, Pages: 14 and 95
  15. ^ a b Genevieve Lloyd, Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Spinoza and The Ethics (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks), Routledge; 1 edition (October 2, 1996), ISBN 0-415-10782-2, Page: 40
  16. ^ Charles Hartshorne and William Reese, "Philosophers Speak of God," Humanity Books, 1953, ch 4.
  17. ^ Harman, Graham (2018). Speculative Realism: an introduction. Hoboken: Wiley. ISBN 978-1-509-51998-9.
  18. ^ Literary Remains of the Late Professor Theodore Goldstucker, W. H. Allen, 1879. p32.
  19. ^ The Westminster Review, Volumes 78–79, Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1862. p1862
  20. ^ Disguised and overt Spinozism around 1700 – Page 133
  21. ^ Three Lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy. F. Max Muller. Kessinger Publishing, 2003. p123
  22. ^ H.P Blavatsky's Collected Writings, Volume 13, pages 308–310. Quest Books


  • Jonathan I. Israel. Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650–1750. 2001.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "article name needed". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.
Absolute idealism

Absolute idealism is an ontologically monistic philosophy "chiefly associated with Friedrich Schelling and G. W. F. Hegel, both German idealist philosophers of the 19th century, Josiah Royce, an American philosopher, and others, but, in its essentials, the product of Hegel". It is Hegel's account of how being is ultimately comprehensible as an all-inclusive whole (das Absolute). Hegel asserted that in order for the thinking subject (human reason or consciousness) to be able to know its object (the world) at all, there must be in some sense an identity of thought and being. Otherwise, the subject would never have access to the object and we would have no certainty about any of our knowledge of the world. To account for the differences between thought and being, however, as well as the richness and diversity of each, the unity of thought and being cannot be expressed as the abstract identity "A=A". Absolute idealism is the attempt to demonstrate this unity using a new "speculative" philosophical method, which requires new concepts and rules of logic. According to Hegel, the absolute ground of being is essentially a dynamic, historical process of necessity that unfolds by itself in the form of increasingly complex forms of being and of consciousness, ultimately giving rise to all the diversity in the world and in the concepts with which we think and make sense of the world.The absolute idealist position dominated philosophy in nineteenth-century England and Germany, while exerting significantly less influence in the United States. The absolute idealist position should be distinguished from the subjective idealism of Berkeley, the transcendental idealism of Kant, or the post-Kantian transcendental idealism (also known as critical idealism) of Fichte and of the early Schelling.

Affect (philosophy)

Affect (from Latin affectus or adfectus) is a concept, used in the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and elaborated by Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, that places emphasis on bodily or embodied experience. The concept of affect takes on a different meaning in psychology and other fields.

For Spinoza, as discussed in Parts Two and Three of his Ethics, affects are states of mind and body that are related to (but not exactly synonymous with) feelings and emotions, of which he says there are three primary kinds: pleasure or joy (laetitia), pain or sorrow (tristitia) and desire (cupiditas) or appetite. Subsequent philosophical usage by Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and their translator Brian Massumi, while derived explicitly from Spinoza, tends to distinguish more sharply than Spinoza does between affect and what are conventionally called emotions. Affects are difficult to grasp and conceptualize because, as Spinoza says, "an affect or passion of the mind [animi pathema] is a confused idea" which is only perceived by the increase or decrease it causes in the body's vital force. The term "affect" is central to what has become known as the "affective turn" in the humanities and social sciences.

Affect theory

Affect theory is a theory that seeks to organize affects, sometimes used interchangeably with emotions, or subjectively experienced feelings, into discrete categories and to typify their physiological, social, interpersonal, and internalized manifestations. The conversation about affect theory has been taken up in psychology, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, medicine, interpersonal communication, literary theory, critical theory, media studies, and gender studies, among other fields. Hence, affect theory is defined in different ways, depending on the discipline.

Affect theory is originally attributed to the psychologist Silvan Tomkins, which he introduced in the first two volumes of his book Affect Imagery Consciousness (1962). Tomkins uses the concept of affect to refer to the "biological portion of emotion," defined as the "hard-wired, preprogrammed, genetically transmitted mechanisms that exist in each of us," which, when triggered, precipitate a "known pattern of biological events". However, it is also acknowledged that, in adults, the affective experience is a result of interactions between the innate mechanism and a "complex matrix of nested and interacting ideo-affective formations."

Antonio Negri

Antonio "Toni" Negri (born 1 August 1933) is an Italian Marxist sociologist and political philosopher, best known for his co-authorship of Empire and secondarily for his work on Spinoza.

Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university. Negri founded the Potere Operaio (Worker Power) group in 1969 and was a leading member of Autonomia Operaia. As one of the most popular theorists of Autonomism, he has published hugely influential books urging "revolutionary consciousness."

He was accused in the late 1970s of various charges including being the mastermind of the left-wing terrorist organization Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse or BR), involved in the May 1978 kidnapping of Aldo Moro, two-time Prime Minister of Italy, and leader of the Christian-Democrat Party, among others. He was wrongly suspected to have made a threatening phone call on behalf of the BR, but the court was unable to conclusively prove his ties. The question of Negri's complicity with left-wing extremism is a controversial subject. He was indicted on a number of charges, including "association and insurrection against the state" (a charge which was later dropped), and sentenced for involvement in two murders.

Negri fled to France where, protected by the Mitterrand doctrine, he taught at the Paris VIII (Vincennes) and the Collège international de philosophie, along with Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. In 1997, after a plea-bargain that reduced his prison time from 30 to 13 years, he returned to Italy to serve the end of his sentence. Many of his most influential books were published while he was behind bars. He now lives in Venice and Paris with his partner, the French philosopher Judith Revel.

Along with Gilles Deleuze, Negri has been one of the central figures of a French-inspired Neo-Spinozism in continental philosophy of the late 20th and early 21th centuries, that was the second remarkable Spinoza revival in history, after a well-known rediscovery of Spinoza by German thinkers (especially the German Romantics and Idealists) in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Causa sui

Causa sui (Latin pronunciation: [kawsa sʊi], meaning "cause of itself" in Latin) denotes something which is generated within itself. This concept was central to the works of Baruch Spinoza, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Ernest Becker, where it relates to the purpose that objects can assign to themselves. In Freud and Becker's case, the concept was often used as an immortality vessel, where something could create meaning or continue to create meaning beyond its own life.

Norman O. Brown, in his masterpiece, Life Against Death, argues Sigmund Freud's Oedipal complex is essentially the causa Sui (father-of-oneself) project where, after the traumatic recognition that we are separate from the mother; that we are 'other,' we seek for reunification with the mother.

In traditional Western theism, even though God cannot be created by any other force or being, he cannot be defined self-caused (causa sui), because this concept implies the Spinozian pantheistic idea of becoming, which contrasts with the belief of scholastic theology that God is incapable of changing. The Catholic concept of [...] God as absolutely independent and self-existent by nature, and, consequently, all-perfect without any possibility of change from all eternity, is altogether opposed to the pantheistic concept of absolute or pure being [that] evolves, determines, and realizes itself through all time. Changing implies development, and since God is to be considered the Absolute Perfection, there is no further need to change: he is the so-called actus purus or aseity. Instead, the recent process theology inserts this concept among the attributes of God in Christianity.

On the other hand, Baba Nanak defined God as self-existent in his bani Japji.

Double-aspect theory

In the philosophy of mind, double-aspect theory is the view that the mental and the physical are two aspects of, or perspectives on, the same substance. It is also called dual-aspect monism. The theory's relationship to neutral monism is ill-defined, but one proffered distinction says that whereas neutral monism allows the context of a given group of neutral elements to determine whether the group is mental, physical, both, or neither, double-aspect theory requires the mental and the physical to be inseparable and mutually irreducible (though distinct).

Double-aspect theorists include, among others:-

Baruch Spinoza, who believed that the Existence had two aspects, Extension and Mind, which together were to be taken as two of an infinite set of attributes comprising God (or, Nature).

There is a dual-aspect interpretation of Immanuel Kant's noumenon.

Arthur Schopenhauer, who considered the fundamental aspects of reality to be Will and Representation.

David Bohm, who used implicate and explicate order as a means of displaying dual-aspects

Gustav Fechner

George Henry Lewes

Carl Gustav Jung

Wolfgang Pauli

John Polkinghorne

Brian O'Shaughnessy on the dual aspect theory of the Will

Thomas Nagel.

David Chalmers who explores a double-aspect view of information, with similarities to Kenneth Sayre's information-based neutral monism.

Christopher Langan

Gilles Deleuze

Gilles Deleuze (; French: [ʒil dəløz]; 18 January 1925 – 4 November 1995) was a French philosopher who, from the early 1950s until his death in 1995, wrote on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), both co-written with psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. His metaphysical treatise Difference and Repetition (1968) is considered by many scholars to be his magnum opus. A. W. Moore, citing Bernard Williams's criteria for a great thinker, ranks Deleuze among the "greatest philosophers". His work has influenced a variety of disciplines across philosophy and art, including literary theory, post-structuralism and postmodernism.Along with several French and Italian Marxist-inspired neo-Spinozists like Louis Althusser, Étienne Balibar, and Antonio Negri, Deleuze was one of the central figures in a great flowering of Spinoza studies in the late 20th and early 21st centuries continental philosophy (or the rise of French-inspired post-structuralist Neo-Spinozism) that was the second remarkable Spinoza revival in history, after highly significant Neo-Spinozism in German philosophy and literature of approximately the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Deleuze's reverence for Spinoza is well known in contemporary philosophy. As Pierre Macherey noted, "An important part of Deleuze's oeuvre is devoted to the reading of philosophers: the Stoics, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Bergson, etc. But a rather singular position in this list would be assigned to Spinoza, owing to the philosophical interest that corresponds to him."

Hendrik Wyermars

Hendrik Wyermars (early June 1685 – 27 September 1757) was a Dutch radical Enlightenment thinker from Amsterdam who in 1710 published a philosophical book defending the eternity of the world and rejecting the literal version of the Creation story from the book of Genesis. For contradicting fundamental Christian doctrine the book was condemned by the local church authorities and the author subsequently jailed for 15 years in the Amsterdam Rasphuis. He was considered an adherent of Spinozism, proclaiming atheist and materialist views.


The doctrine or theory of immanence holds that the divine encompasses or is manifested in the material world. It is held by some philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence. Immanence is usually applied in monotheistic, pantheistic, pandeistic, or panentheistic faiths to suggest that the spiritual world permeates the mundane. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world.

Major faiths commonly devote significant philosophical efforts to explaining the relationship between immanence and transcendence but do so in different ways, such as:

casting immanence as a characteristic of a transcendent God (common in Abrahamic religions),

subsuming immanent personal gods in a greater transcendent being (such as with Brahman in Hinduism), or

approaching the question of transcendence as something which can only be answered through an appraisal of immanence.

Moses Hess

Moses (Moshe) Hess (January or June 21, 1812 – April 6, 1875) was a French-Jewish philosopher and a founder of Labor Zionism. His socialist theories, predicated on racial struggle, led to conflict with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. As a devoted Spinozist, Hess was profoundly influenced by Spinoza's life and philosophy.


Multitude is a term for a group of people who cannot be classed under any other distinct category, except for their shared fact of existence. The term has a history of use reaching back to antiquity, but took on a strictly political concept when it was first used by Machiavelli and reiterated by Spinoza. The multitude is a concept of a population that has not entered into a social contract with a sovereign political body, such that individuals retain the capacity for political self-determination. A multitude typically is classified as a quantity exceeding 100. For Hobbes the multitude was a rabble that needed to enact a social contract with a monarch, thus turning them from a multitude into a people. For Machiavelli and Spinoza both, the role of the multitude vacillates between admiration and contempt. Recently the term has returned to prominence as a new model of resistance against global systems of power as described by political theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their international best-seller Empire (2000) and expanded upon in their Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004). Other theorists recently began to use the term include political thinkers associated with Autonomist Marxism and its sequelae, including Sylvère Lotringer, Paolo Virno, and thinkers connected with the eponymous review Multitudes.

Natura naturans

Natura naturans is a Latin tag coined during the Middle Ages, meaning "Nature naturing", or more loosely, "nature doing what nature does". The Latin, naturans, is the present active participle of naturo, indicated by the suffix "-ans" which is akin to the English suffix "-ing". Naturata is the perfect passive participle. These terms are most commonly associated with the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. For Spinoza, natura naturans refers to the self-causing activity of nature, while natura naturata, meaning "nature natured", refers to nature considered as a passive product of an infinite causal chain. Samuel Taylor Coleridge defined it as "Nature in the active sense" as opposed to natura naturata.

The distinction is expressed in Spinoza's Ethics as follows:

[B]y Natura naturans we must understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, or such attributes of substance as express an eternal and infinite essence, that is … God, insofar as he is considered as a free cause. But by Natura naturata I understand whatever follows from the necessity of God's nature, or from God's attributes, that is, all the modes of God's attributes insofar as they are considered as things which are in God, and can neither be nor be conceived without God.

To Spinoza, Nature and God were the same (see Deus sive Natura).

Natura naturata

Natura naturata is a Latin term coined in the Middle Ages, mainly used later by Baruch Spinoza meaning "Nature natured", or "Nature already created". The term adds the suffix for the Latin feminine past participle (-ata) to the verb naturo, to create "natured". The term describes a passive God, or more specifically, the passivity of God (substance) when it is predicated into modes, and is contrasted with the second part of Spinoza's dichotomy, natura naturans, meaning "nature naturing", or "nature in the active sense".

The distinction is expressed in Spinoza's Ethics as follows:

[B]y Natura naturans we must understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, or such attributes of substance as express an eternal and infinite essence, that is … God, insofar as he is considered as a free cause. But by Natura naturata I understand whatever follows from the necessity of God's nature, or from God's attributes, that is, all the modes of God's attributes insofar as they are considered as things which are in God, and can neither be nor be conceived without God.

Naturalistic pantheism

Naturalistic pantheism is a kind of pantheism. It has been used in various ways such as to relate God or divinity with concrete things, determinism, or the substance of the Universe. God, from these perspectives, is seen as the aggregate of all unified natural phenomena. The phrase has often been associated with the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, although academics differ on how it is used.

Pantheism controversy

The pantheism controversy (German: Pantheismusstreit) was an event in German cultural history that lasted between 1785–1789 which had an effect throughout Europe.

At the dawn of the first remarkable Spinoza revival in history, the break of the Pantheismusstreit marked the moment in which Baruch Spinoza's radical thinking moved from the clandestine underground to the center of the public debate and Spinoza's impact on Western thinking became public.

Pierre Macherey

Pierre Macherey (French: [maʃərɛ]; born 17 February 1938, Belfort) is a French Marxist literary critic at the University of Lille Nord de France. A former student of Louis Althusser and collaborator on the influential volume Reading Capital, Macherey is a central figure in the development of French post-structuralism and Marxism. His work is influential in literary theory and Continental philosophy in Europe (including Britain) though it is generally little read in the United States.

Prometheus (Goethe)

"Prometheus" is a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in which the character of the mythic Prometheus addresses God (as Zeus) in misotheist accusation and defiance. The poem was written between 1772 and 1774 and first published in 1789 after an anonymous and unauthorised publication in 1785 by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. It is an important work of the Sturm und Drang movement.

In early editions of the Collected Works it appeared in Volume II of Goethe's poems in a section of Vermischte Gedichte (assorted poems), shortly following the Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, and the Harzreise im Winter. It is immediately followed by "Ganymed", and the two poems together should be understood as a pair. Both belong to the period 1770–1775. Prometheus (1774) was planned as a drama but not completed, but this poem draws upon it. Prometheus is the creative and rebellious spirit which, rejected by God, angrily defies him and asserts itself; Ganymede is the boyish self which is adored and seduced by God. One is the lone defiant, the other the yielding acolyte. As the humanist poet, Goethe presents both identities as aspects or forms of the human condition.

Although the setting is classical, the address to the Biblical God is suggested by the section beginning "Da ich ein Kind war..." ("When I was a child"): the use of Da is distinctive, and by it Goethe evokes the Lutheran translation of Saint Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, 13:11: "Da ich ein Kind war, da redete ich wie ein Kind..." ("When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things"). Unlike Paul, Goethe's Prometheus grew up to disbelieve in the divine heart moved to pity for the afflicted.

The poem was set to music by J. F. Reichardt, Franz Schubert (see "Prometheus", 1819), Hugo Wolf (1889) and F.M. Einheit (1993).


In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification". More formally, rationalism is defined as a methodology or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive".In an old controversy, rationalism was opposed to empiricism, where the rationalists believed that reality has an intrinsically logical structure. Because of this, the rationalists argued that certain truths exist and that the intellect can directly grasp these truths. That is to say, rationalists asserted that certain rational principles exist in logic, mathematics, ethics, and metaphysics that are so fundamentally true that denying them causes one to fall into contradiction. The rationalists had such a high confidence in reason that empirical proof and physical evidence were regarded as unnecessary to ascertain certain truths – in other words, "there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience".Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position "that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge" to the more extreme position that reason is "the unique path to knowledge". Given a pre-modern understanding of reason, rationalism is identical to philosophy, the Socratic life of inquiry, or the zetetic (skeptical) clear interpretation of authority (open to the underlying or essential cause of things as they appear to our sense of certainty). In recent decades, Leo Strauss sought to revive "Classical Political Rationalism" as a discipline that understands the task of reasoning, not as foundational, but as maieutic.

In the 17th-century Dutch Republic, the rise of early modern-period rationalism — as a highly systematic school of philosophy in its own right for the first time in history — exerted an immense and profound influence on modern Western thought in general, with the birth of two highly influential rationalistic philosophical systems of Descartes (who spent most of his adult life in the Netherlands in the period 1628–1649) and Spinoza — namely Cartesianism and Spinozism. It was the 17th-century arch-rationalists like Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz who have given the "Age of Reason" its name and place in history.In politics, rationalism, since the Enlightenment, historically emphasized a "politics of reason" centered upon rational choice, utilitarianism, secularism, and irreligion – the latter aspect's antitheism was later softened by the adoption of pluralistic methods practicable regardless of religious or irreligious ideology. In this regard, the philosopher John Cottingham noted how rationalism, a methodology, became socially conflated with atheism, a worldview:

In the past, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, the term 'rationalist' was often used to refer to free thinkers of an anti-clerical and anti-religious outlook, and for a time the word acquired a distinctly pejorative force (thus in 1670 Sanderson spoke disparagingly of 'a mere rationalist, that is to say in plain English an atheist of the late edition...'). The use of the label 'rationalist' to characterize a world outlook which has no place for the supernatural is becoming less popular today; terms like 'humanist' or 'materialist' seem largely to have taken its place. But the old usage still survives.

Spinoza (book)

Spinoza (1951; second edition 1962; third edition 1987) is a book about Baruch Spinoza by the English philosopher Stuart Hampshire, in which the author introduces Spinoza's philosophy, comparing Spinoza's views to those of other philosophers such as René Descartes and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, as well as to those of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. The work includes a foreword by the philosopher A. J. Ayer, while a new introduction was added to the 1987 edition. Spinoza has become a classic work about Spinoza and has received praise from philosophers. However, Hampshire's comparisons between Spinoza and Freud have been criticized for ignoring important differences between the two. In 2005, Spinoza, along with Hampshire's other writings on the philosopher, was incorporated into a single volume, published as Spinoza and Spinozism, which received negative reviews.

Works by
Concepts and theories
Related topics
Related people
Reception and interpretation of Spinoza's thought
Works about
Projects and recognitions

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.