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SUBSTANCE MONISM IN SPINOZA (1632-1677)

ORDO ET CONNEXIO IDEARUM IDEM EST AC ORDO ET CONNEXIO RERUM. (EIIP7)

Baruch (Benedict) de Spinoza (1632-1677)

Tinneke Beeckman | Jon Miller | Stuart Hampshire | Steven Nadler
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Antonio Damasio | Jonathan Bennett | Chantal Jacquet | Roger Scruton

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From Tinneke Beeckman's Door Spinoza's lens, Kalmhout 2012, p.156: Over geest en lichaam stelt Spinoza het volgende, en dat is opnieuw een algemene naturalistische claim: 'De orde en het verband van de voorstellingen zijn dezelfde als de orde en het verband van de dingen' (E, II, stelling 7). Dit wil zeggen dat de ideeŽn in de geest van de mens een bepaald verloop kennen. Dat geldt uiteraard ook voor de ideeŽn in God. Spinoza stelt ook hier dat lichaam en geest twee verschillende attributen zijn, maar [dat ze] gelijktijdig verlopen. Het lichaam komt niet tot stand door een voorafgaand idee in God (E, II, stelling 6, toegift). En de geest ontstaat niet door het lichaam (E, II, stelling 5). Lichaam en geest zijn twee zijden van hetzelfde ding, als bestaansvormen van twee attributen van God (E, II, stelling 7, opmerking).

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From Spinoza and the Stoics on Substance Monism, by Jon Miller, in The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza's Ethics, edited by Olli Koistinen. New York 2009, p.107: The next issue I want to raise ... concerns the way in which thought and extension are connected to one another. Two points in particular must be made about Spinoza's views on this matter. First, acknowledging that mental states plainly have something to do with physical states, he postulates a striking relationship between the mental and the physical, declaring that 'The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things' (E2p7). In Spinoza's view, for any given mental state x of substance, there is a state x* of substance that exactly corresponds to x, except that x* is physical. As he restates this doctrine of 'parallelism' in E2p7s, 'The thinking substance and the extended substance are one and the same substance, which is now comprehended under this attribute, now under that.' Because thought and extension are attributes of the same substance, and because this substance necessarily possesses those attributes (just as it necessarily possesses all attributes), it is impossible for them to exist apart from one another.

At the same time, because thought and extension are fundamentally different ways of being, it is also impossible for them to exist in a causal or logical relation to one another. And here we come to my second point about Spinoza's views on the relationship of the mental to the physical. Mental states can give rise to other mental states; physical states can give rise to other physical states; but as Spinoza writes in E3p2, 'The Body cannot determine the Mind to thinking, and the Mind cannot determine the Body to motion, to rest or to anything else...' We can look at Spinoza's arguments for this barrier, but I find the suggestion that such dualism is part of the 'cast' of his mind to be at least as edifying.

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From in Spinoza and Spinozism, by Stuart Hampshire, 1951, 1988, Oxford 2005, p.58-59: Spinoza, a rationalist without reservation, allowed no appeals to God's inscrutable will or to theological mysteries in the design of his metaphysics. He therefore argued that the two pervasive features of the Universe as it presents itself to our minds, the Universe as a system of extended or spatial things and the Universe as a system of ideas or thoughts, must be interpreted as two aspects of a single inclusive reality; they are not to be conceived as two distinct substances, a conception which has been proved to be self-contradictory; they must be two attributes of the single substance.

It follows that the whole system, which is God or [sive] Nature, can be conceived equally, and no less completely, as a system of extended or spatial things or as a system of thinking or animated things; everything extended in space is also truly conceived as animated, and everything animated is also truly conceived as extended in space. In order to appreciate Spinoza's intention, it is essential from the beginning not to attach to the infinite attributes of Thought and Extension only the ordinary associations of the words mind and body; for the attributes of Thought and Extension are not in Spinoza two partly parallel, or somehow co-ordinated systems of things or events, as mental and physical events are ordinarily imagined to be. They are the same order of causes in the same substance, but conceived under two different attributes of this substance. Thinking substance and extended substance are one and the same substance, comprehended now under this attribute, now under that: 'Whether we think of Nature under the attribute of Extension or under the attribute of Thought or under any other attribute whatever, we shall discover one and the same order, or one and the same connexion of causes' (Ethics Pt. II, Prop. VII, Note). The union of individual human minds with individual human bodies is for Spinoza only a special case of the general identity of the order or connection of causes in Nature; what he has proved refers no more to man than to other individual things, all of which are, though in different degrees, animate. 'For of everything there is necessarily an idea in God, of which God is the cause, in the same way as there is an idea of the human body: thus whatever we have asserted of the idea of the human body must necessarily also be asserted of the idea of everything else. But still we cannot deny that ideas, like objects, differ one from the other, one being more excellent than the other and containing more reality, just as the object of one idea is more excellent than the object of another idea, and contains more reality' (Ethics Pt. II, Prop. XIII, Note). This passage explains Spinoza's intention, which has been persistently misinterpreted because of a too simple equation of his thought and extension with the mental and physical, as this distinction is ordinarily understood. He is asserting that, since there are both extended things and ideas of extended things, as Nature presents itself to us, and since both the extended things and the ideas must belong to the unique self-determining substance, there can be no ideas which are not ideas of extended things, or extended things of which there is no idea.

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From Benedict de Spinoza: Metaphysics , in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: How one interprets Spinoza's theory of attributes will significantly affect the rest of his metaphysics. For example, one of Spinoza's most important claims is that "the order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things" (E2p7.) That is, the order of modes under the attribute of extension is the same as the order of modes under the attribute of thought. Spinoza explains this idea in an important and controversial scholium. He claims that

a circle existing in nature and the idea of the existing circle, which is also in God, are one and the same thing, which is explained through different attributes. Therefore, whether we conceive nature under the attribute of Extension, or under the attribute of Thought, or under any other attribute, we shall find one and the same order, or one and the same connection of causes, i.e., that the same things follow one another (E2p7s.)

The view that one and the same order exists under each of the attributes is called 'modal parallelism.' The word 'parallelism' is used because not all scholars believe that the relationship between a body and the mind of that body is identity. How one interprets modal parallelism in Spinoza will depend upon one's interpretation of Spinoza's theory of the attributes. Two of the most developed and influential recent interpretations of Spinoza's parallelism are Bennett 1984 (who argues that the mind and body are not identical) and Della Rocca 1996a (who argues that the mind and body are identical).

Bennett and others reject the numerical identity interpretation of parallelism on the grounds that it commits Spinoza to a contradiction. Spinoza claims that there is no causal interaction between minds and bodies at E3p2. If he then claimed (so the argument goes) that minds and bodies are identical, then he would seemingly be committed to the following contradiction: if mind M causally interacts with mind N and body 1 is identical with mind M, then it seems as though body 1 must also causally interact with mind N (thus violating Spinoza's explicit claims at E3p2.) This argument is presented by both Bennett 1984, 141 and Delahunty 1985, 197 to argue against the identity of minds and bodies in Spinoza.

But Spinoza does say that the mind and the body are "one and the same thing" conceived in two ways (E2p7s). What could that mean if not that minds and bodies are identical? Bennett argues that in Spinoza a mind and a body merely share a part (which he calls a "trans-attribute mode"). Minds and bodies are not fully identical. (See Bennett 1984, 141). One "trans-attribute mode" can combine both with the attribute of thought (creating a mind) and the attribute of extension (creating a body) at the same time. Thus, my body is a trans-attribute mode combined with the attribute of extension; my mind is that same trans-attribute mode combined with the attribute of thought. Bennett thus rejects the interpretation of parallelism whereby a body and a mind are one and the same thing. A body and its parallel mind merely share a part (namely, a trans-attribute mode).

By contrast Della Rocca argues that minds and bodies in Spinoza are fully identical. Della Rocca argues that the notion of referential opacity (see the Objectivism section above) can allow Spinoza to accept both the identity of minds and bodies without accepting that minds and bodies causally interact. Della Rocca claims that causal contexts in Spinoza are referentially opaque. That is, x is the cause of y only under certain descriptions or ways of thinking about x. It is not the case that the sentence "x causes y" is true under all possible ways of describing or conceiving of x. For example, "x under a mental description caused y" can be true while "x under a physical description caused y" is false. Thus, Della Rocca argues that the claim that minds and bodies are identical does not entail that minds and bodies causally interact because whether x caused y or not depends upon how x is described. (See Della Rocca 1996a, 118-140, 157-167.)

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From Looking for Spinoza - Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain, by Antonio Damasio, Orlando 2003, p.209: This is the time to return to Spinoza and to consider the possible meaning of what he wrote on body and mind. Whatever interpretation we favor for the pronouncements he made on the issue, we can be certain Spinoza was changing the perspective he inherited from Descartes when he said, in The Ethics, Part I, that thought and extension, while distinguishable, are nonetheless attributes of the same substance, God or Nature. The reference to a single substance serves the purpose of claiming mind as inseparable from body, both created, somehow, from the same cloth. The reference to the two attributes, mind and body, acknowledged the distinction of two kinds of phenomena, a formulation that preserved an entirely sensible 'aspect' dualism, but rejected substance dualism. By placing thought and extension on equal footing, and by tying both to a single substance, Spinoza wished to overcome a problem that Descartes faced and failed to solve: the presence of two substances and the need to integrate them. On the face of it, Spinoza's solution no longer required mind and body to integrate or interact; mind and body would spring in parallel from the same substance, fully and mutually mimicking each other in their different manifestations. In a strict sense, the mind did not cause the body and the body did not cause the mind.

Were Spinoza's contribution on this issue limited to the above formulation, one would have to grant him that progress had been made. One would have to note, however, that by relating mind and body to a closed, single-substance box, he turned his back on the attempt to explain how the bodily and mental manifestations of substance ever arose. A fair-minded critic would add that at least Descartes was trying, while Spinoza merely circumvented the problem. But perhaps the fair-minded critic would not be accurate. In my interpretation, Spinoza was making a bold attempt at penetrating the mystery. I venture, and am ready to admit I may be wrong, that based on his statements in Part II of The Ethics, Spinoza may have intuited the general anatomical and functional arragements that the body must assume for the mind to occur together with it, or, more precisely, with and within it.

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From Chapter 31, Parallelism, of A Study of Spinoza's Ethics, by Jonathan F. Bennett, 1984, Indianapolis 1987, p.127:
1. As Spinoza's thought unfolds in Parts 2 and 3, it becomes increasingly clear that he accepts and advocates a doctrine of parallelism between the mental and physical realms. This seems to be the doctrine that there is a one-one relation correlating mental items and physical ones, mapping similarities onto similarities and causal chains onto causal chains. If x is a physical item, then the correlated mental item is what Spinoza calls 'the idea of x', which I shall symbolize by I(x). Using that symbolism, then, the parallelism thesis says that if x resembles y then I(x) resembles I(y), and if x causes y then I(x) causes I(y).
Spinoza sometimes calls x the 'object' of I(x). This is not doctrine, I think, but merely terminology: 'is the object of' is by definition the converse of 'is the idea of'. I shall sometimes use the operator O( ) for forming names of items out of names of the ideas of them, so that O(y) is the object of the idea y. It is thus a theorem that O(I(x))=x, and that I(O(y))=y.
2. In Chapter 32 I shall offer respectable reasons, which Spinoza could have had and I think did have, for accepting this drastically strong thesis that a mental realm runs parallel in the finest detail to the physical realm. But it will be seen that these reasons, which depend heavily on empirical fact and on certain broad assumptions about science, could not easily have been shaped up into the sort of demonstration Spinoza liked to give in the Ethics. I conjecture that that is why he instead offered the weak, cryptic argument that we find in the text. Here is the whole of his demonstration of it: 'The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things. Demonstration: This is evident from 1a4. For the idea of each caused thing depends on the cognition of the cause of which it is the effect.' (2p7d)

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From From Parallelism to Equality: The Nature of the Union of Mind and Body in Spinoza, by Chantal Jacquet, Mededelingen vanwege het Spinozahuis #104, Voorschoten 2013, p.10-11:
Whereas the 'parallelism' doctrine can be clarifying in that it makes it possible to conceptualize a correspondence between the mind and body without interactions nor reciprocal causality, it isn't really pertinent to explain the Spinozist conception of the psychophysical union because it masks unity as well as difference, and even the divergence between the modes of expression of thought and of extension. Under these conditions, all discourse on the psychophysical union comes down to the juxtaposition of two monologues that answer each other word for word, without there ever being a key phrase in one register without a matching one in the other. It is therefore necessary to rethink the relationship between the idea and the object and more generally, the relationship between the various modes of reality in Spinoza's works.

To do this, we must settle the 'parallelism' issue and get rid of this ill-suited and ambiguous term, this confusing minefield of a concept that doesn't appear in the system. In fact, it isn't necessary to import this word that carries with it a surreptitious procession of false ideas in order to name and identify the Spinozist conception, because the author of the Ethics saw to it himself and provided a precise concept to express his argument known under the name of parallelism. This concept, which a more attentive reading of the text should have made obvious long ago to avoid getting lost in the twists and turns of parallelism and its traps, is equality. This is the exact word Spinoza uses to express the fact that God's power of thinking goes hand-in-hand with his power of acting. The identity of the causal order in all of the attributes and all of the modes that depend on them is explicitly presented in the corollary to Proposition VII of Part II of the Ethics. After establishing that the order and connection of ideas is the same as that of [the order and] the connection of things, Spinoza deduces from this that 'God's [NS: actual] power of thinking is equal (aequalis) to his actual power of acting.' The presence of the adjective 'aequalis' is no accident, because the author uses the same word when he compares the mind's power of thinking and the body's power of acting. 'But the Mind's striving, or [sive] power of thinking, is equal to, and at one in nature with (aequalis et simul natura) the Body's striving, or [sive] power of acting' (EIIIpXXVIIIdem). When Spinoza wants to explain that the order of ideas and affections in the mind goes hand-in-hand with that of the affections of the body and is one and the same thing, he uses either the adjective aequalis or the adverb simul, or both at once.

Consequently, whether it is in God [Deus sive Natura] or man, there is an equality between the power of thinking and the power of acting. In God this equality manifests itself between the attribute of thought and the infinity of other attributes. In man, it concerns a mode of the attribute of thought, the mind, and a mode of the attribute of extension, the body. It expresses the correlation between the idea and the object and means that 'whatever happens in the object of the idea constituting the human Mind, must be perceived by the human Mind' (EIIpXII). The theory of expression in Spinoza's work is governed entirely by the principle of equality and therefore must be reconsidered in the light of this concept.

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Excerpt compiled from Spinoza's Ethics - An Introduction, by Steven Nadler, Cambridge 2006, p.126-127:
There is, thus, a one-to-one correspondence between the modes of Thought (ideas), on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the modes of every attribute. [That this is Spinoza's view is confirmed by his letter to Tschirnhaus of 18 August 1675 (Letter 66). Tschirnhaus had wondered (in Letter 65) why the mind does not have knowledge of the attributes other than Extension, since presumably what expresses itself as modes through all the other attributes is identical to that which is expressed in the attribute of Thought as a single mode/idea, and thus that single idea's relationship to the mode in Extension should be duplicated by that idea's relationship to the modes of the other attributes. "Hence there now arises the question as to why the mind, which represents a particular modification - which same modification is expressed not only by extension but by infinite other attributes - why, I ask, does the mind perceive only the particular modification expressed through extension, that is, the human body, and not any other expression through other attributes?" Spinoza's answer is basically to deny that there is only one mode of Thought corresponding to all the modes of the other attributes; rather, he says, "although each thing is expressed in infinite modes in the infinite intellect of God, the infinite ideas in which it is expressed cannot constitute one and the same mind of a particular thing, but an infinite of minds. For each of these ideas has no connection with the others."] (It should be noted, as well, that this schema [also] applies within the attribute of Thought, since there is a corresponding mode of Thought for every mode of every attribute including the modes of the attribute of Thought [itself]. For every mode of Thought, there is a corresponding mode of Thought that has that first mode as its object; that is, there are ideas of ideas, and then ideas of ideas of ideas, and so on [...]). And, more importantly for our purposes, since we are ignoring the unknown attributes, there is a one-to-one correspondence between the modes in Thought that are ideas of extended bodies and the modes in Extension that are extended bodies themselves.

But Spinoza goes well beyond the thesis that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the modes of Thought, on the one hand, and the modes of all the attributes, on the other hand. This is made clear by IIP7: "The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things." Spinoza is making the stronger claim that there are ordered series of ideas in Thought each of which corresponds in its order to the ordering of modes in one of the other attributes. More particularly, the order and connection of the modes in Thought that are ideas of extended bodies is the same as the order and connection of the modes in Extension that are those bodies. [...] In God or Nature, the causal order of things is the same as the causal/logical order of ideas.

Excerpt compiled from Spinoza - Past Masters, by Roger Scruton, Oxford 1986, p.63-65:
Everything can be conceived either as idea or as extended thing; and yet there is no causal relation (in any sense recognizable by Spinoza) between mind and body. A causal relation exists between two things only if the conception of one involves the conception of the other. An idea may depend upon another idea for its conception, and a body likewise on another body. But at no point in the elaboration of the system of ideas can intelligible reference be made to a physical mode, nor, in the elaboration of the science of extension, can intelligible reference be made to the mental. The two systems are parallel but incommensurable expressions of a single totality. Nevertheless, 'the order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things' (EIIp7). Hence there is no difficulty in relating the mind to things outside it, or in displaying its position in the unfolding sequence of natura naturata (...)

And for every idea there is an ideatum* - an object conceived under the attribute of extension, which exactly corresponds to the idea in the system of the world. Every idea is 'of' its ideatum (EIID4), and every idea therefore displays what Spinoza called the 'extrinsic' mark of truth, namely an exact and necessary correspondence to its ideatum. This does not imply that there is no such thing as a false idea. For many ideas fail to posses the 'intrinsic' marks of truth. Error stems from our failure to grasp the full system of ideas, and the relations of dependence which hold between them; hence we remain with confused or partial conceptions of things, and only by replacing these conceptions with 'adequate' ideas can we have the guarantee that our thought displays things as they are (...)

An idea which possesses only the extrinsic mark of truth may be a source of error - and in this sense may be described as false. While we can know that it corresponds (as it must) to its ideatum, we cannot know, from the intrinsic properties of the idea, just what the ideatum is. The inadequate idea, in other words, is opaque to the world, while the adequate idea is transparent. Hence 'between a true and an adequate idea I recognise no difference, except that the epithet 'true' only has regard to the agreement between the idea and its ideatum, whereas the epithet 'adequate' has regard to the nature of the idea itself' (Correspondence LX).

* Some translators use the word 'object', others the word 'ideal' - both are considered misleading by the author.

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