The Ethics Book PDF By Benedict de Spinoza

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The second argument is also drawn from God’s supreme perfection.

God, it is said, inasmuch as he is a supremely perfect being, cannot be passive; but extended substance, insofar as it is divisible, is passive.

It follows, therefore, that extended substance does not appertain to the essence of God.

Such are the arguments I find on the subject in writers, who by them try to prove that extended substance is unworthy of the divine nature, and cannot possibly appertain thereto.

However, I think an attentive reader will see that I have already answered their propositions; for all their arguments are founded on the hypothesis that extended substance is composed of parts.

And such a hypothesis I have shown (Prop. xii., and Coroll. Prop. xiii.) to be absurd. Moreover, anyone who reflects will see that all these absurdities (if absurdities they are.

Which I am not now discussing), from which it is sought to extract the conclusion that extended substance is finite, do not at all follow from the notion of an infinite quantity.

But merely from the notion that an infinite quantity is measurable, and composed of finite parts, therefore, the only fair conclusion to be drawn is that: infinite quantity is not measurable, and cannot be composed of finite parts.

This is exactly what we have already proved (in Prop. xii.). Wherefore the weapon which they aimed at us has, in reality, recoiled upon themselves.

If from this absurdity of theirs, they persist in drawing the conclusion that extended substance must be finite.

They will in good sooth be acting like a man who asserts that circles have the properties of squares, and, finding himself thereby landed in absurdities, proceeds to deny that circles have any center, from which all lines drawn to the circumference are equal.

For, taking extended substance, which can only be conceived as infinite, one, and indivisible (Props. viii., v., xii.) they assert.

In order to prove that it is finite, that it is composed of finite parts, and that it can be multiplied and divided.

So, also, others, after asserting that a line is composed of points, can produce many arguments to prove that a line cannot be infinitely divided.

Assuredly it is not less absurd to assert that extended substance is made up of bodies or parts than it would be to assert that a solid is made up of surfaces, a surface of lines, and a line of points.

This must be admitted by all who know clear reason to be infallible, and most of all by those who deny the possibility of a vacuum.

AuthorBenedict de Spinoza
Language English
No. of Pages314
PDF Size89.9 MB

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