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THE SUBSTANCE OF SPINOZA Errol E. Harris HUMANITIES PRESS New JERSEY First published 1995 by Humanities Press International, Inc., Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey 07716. © Errol E. Harris, 1995 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Harris, Errol E. The substance of Spinoza / by Errol E. Harris. Pp. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-391-03827-3 1. Spinoza, Benedictus de, 1632-1677. I. Title. B3998.H276 1994 199'.492—dc20 93-3851 CIP A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without written permission from the publisher. Contents Preface Acknowledgments Abbreviations oR we PART I EPISTEMOLOGY AND METAPHYSICS Spinoza’s Method and His Metaphysics Finite and Infinite in Spinoza’s System Infinity of Attributes and Idea Ideae Spinoza’s Doctrine of Body-Mind Relation The Order and Connection of Ideas The Essence of Man and the Conscious Subject PART II POLITICS AND RELIGION 7. Spinoza’s Treatment of Natural Law 8. Spinoza and the Original Contract Theory 9. Is There an Esoteric Doctrine in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus? PART Il SPINOZA AND HIS SUCCESSORS 10. Spinoza and Leibniz 11. Fichte and Spinoza 12. The Spinozism of F. W. J. Schelling 13. The Concept of Substance in Spinoza and Hegel 14, Constantin Brunner’s Misreading of Spinoza Bibliography Index 22 38 52 69 79 96 111 125 150 169 185 200 215 223 231 Preface Since the publication of Salvation from Despair: A Reappraisal of Spinoza’s Philosophy, | have delivered a number of papers to Spinoza conferences, some of which have been published in their proceedings, and have contributed others to commemorative volumes and journals. All of these papers I have now revised and in some measure rewritten, and they are here collected together with two hitherto unpublished essays un- der one cover. Salvation discussed the body of Spinoza’s philosophy as it appears in his writings, and although the views of some of the older and better- known commentators were taken into consideration, the later influ- ence of the philosopher was not closely examined, nor were some of the more recent writings about his work. In the essays included in this book various particularly teasing problems that arise out of Spinoza’s thought and exposition are discussed and the way in which certain recent and contemporary commentators have addressed them. In Part 3, I have examined the influence exercised by Spinoza’s philoso- phy on some of his successors, and their reactions to it. As the correct interpretation of Spinoza depends on the reading of certain key pas- sages, reference to these crops up again and again in my discussion of the way others have interpreted, and misinterpreted, him. Consequently, some repetition has been unavoidable, but I hope that each new re- currence to the doctrines discussed will serve to throw fresh light on them from a different angle. The title of the book is deliberately ambiguous. It is appropriate because the subject throughout is, by and large, Spinoza’s doctrine of Substance; at the same time, what is discussed does bear upon the substance of Spinoza's philosophy, even if it does not treat of it ex- haustively. No attempt, however, has been made to cover the whole range of Spinoza’s system in this book, as was done in the previous volume; and a measure of acquaintance with the texts by the reader has been assumed. There are numerous other aspects of Spinoza’s work and questions that arise out of it which are not discussed, in part be- cause I have paid some attention to several of them in the earlier vu viii PREFACE book, and have not found occasion to examine them more closely in the interval that has since elapsed. There is certainly plenty of scope for fur- ther investigation, and had opportunity served, I should like to have exam- ined more in depth Spinoza’s psychology and his ethical theory. His political theory, especially with regard to democracy, freedom of thought and reli- gious tolerance, merits scrutiny and discussion; and I could also wish to have gone more deeply into his views on prophecy, the function and significance of religious ceremonies, miracles, and the distinction between true religion and superstition. But, like everybody else, I am subject to limitations that are not easily overcome, and for which, perhaps, no apol- ogy need be made. In the course of my. research into Spinoza’s predecessors’ writings on the Original Contract, I think I may have made a discovery, not philosophical but literary: namely, that John Milton was the English translator of the 1648 edition of Vindiciae contra tyrannos, now attrib- uted to Duplessis Mornay, which was (like many others, including Spinoza’s own Tractatus Theologico-Politicus) published anonymously. None of the experts whom I have consulted have been able to produce evi- dence either in favor of or against the assumption, but the evidence which has persuaded me is the similarity both of style and of argu- ment between that translation and Milton’s own treatise, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, which was published only one year later. I should be most interested to discover if there is any more substantial evidence, and where it might be found, either that Milton was indeed the trans- lator, or that it was somebody else. The settlement of this issue, one way or the other, however, has no bearing on the philosophical sub- ject of Chapter 8, below. A complete bibliography of works by and about Spinoza would fill a volume by itself. For the one at the end of this book I have drawn heavily on those compiled by my friends Jon Wetlesen and Theo van der Werf, but even since they were published further important mate- rial has appeared, not all of which has been brought to my notice. I can only hope that what has been offered will prove helpful and at least relatively adequate. Immediately after Spinoza’s death, his bad reputation as an atheist (which in truth he was not) led to a suppression and neglect of his work for more than a century; and in recent years, the reaction against metaphysics, by Logical Positivists, Existentialists, and even some Phenomenologists, has resulted in a decline of interest in Spinoza. But Spinoza studies have always flourished in the Netherlands, where Vereniging het Spinzahuis keeps them alive and up to date. Elsewhere on the continent of Europe also Spinoza studies have not been ne- Preface ix glected, and new impetus has been given to them by the resuscitation of an annual journal, Studia Spinozana, to replace the long-defunct Chronicum Spinozanum. Today there are healthy signs of revival, and the recent formation of a North American Spinoza Society will be heralded by Spinoza enthusiasts with gratification and good hope. Neglect of so profound a philosopher is hardly to be tolerated, and those who find more in philosophy than a mere intellectual exercise will not lightly forgo the benefit and inspiration to be gained by close study of works in which the deepest insights and most penetrating thought of one of the greatest minds of all time have been concen- trated within the comparatively small compass of a handful of volumes. E. E. H. HIGH WRAY Acknowledgments The publisher gratefully acknowledges permission to use the following material: In Chapter 1, from “Method and Metaphysics in Spinoza,” originally published in Studia Spinozana, Vol. 2 (1986). In Chapter 2, from “Finite and Infinite in Spinoza’s System,” origi- nally published in Speculum Spinozanum, ed. Siegfried Hessing. Lon- don, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977. In Chapter 3, from “The Infinity of the Attributes and idea ideae,” origi- nally published in Nueu Hefte fir Philosophie (Spinoza 1677-1977), Heft 12, ed. R. Buber, K. Cramer, and R. Wiehl, 1977. In Chapter 4, “The Body-Mind Relation,” originally published in Spinoza’s Metaphysics, ed. James B. Wilbur, 1976; and in Chapter 5, “The Order and Connexion of Ideas,” originally published in Spinoza on Knowing, Being and Freedom, ed. J. G. van der Bend, Van Gorcum, Asson., 1974. In Chapter 6, “The Essence of Man and the Subject of Conscious- ness,” originally published in Spinoza’s Philosophy of Man, ed. J. Wetlesen, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo, 1978. In Chapter 12, “Schelling and Spinoza: Spinozism and Dialectic,” origi- nally published in Spinoza: Issues and Directions, ed. Edwin Curley and Pierre-Francois Moreau, E, J. Brill, Leiden, 1990. In Chapter 13, “The Concept of Substance in Spinoza and Hegel,” originally published in Spinoza nel 350° Anniversario della Nascita, ed. Emilia Giancotti, Saggi Bibliopolis, 1985.