Spinoza's Metaphysics Substance and Thought

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 8/7/2013
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Yitzhak Melamed here offers a new and systematic interpretation of the core of Spinoza's metaphysics. In the first part of the book, he proposes a new reading of the metaphysics of substance in Spinoza: he argues that for Spinoza modes both inhere in and are predicated of God. Using extensive textual evidence, he shows that Spinoza considered modes to be God's propria. He goes on to clarify Spinoza's understanding of infinity, mereological relations, infinite modes, and the flow of finite things from God's essence. In the second part of the book, Melamed relies on this interpretation of the substance-mode relation and the nature of infinite modes and puts forward two interrelated theses about the structure of the attribute of Thought and its overarching role in Spinoza's metaphysics. First, he shows that Spinoza had not one, but two independent doctrines of parallelism. Then, in his final main thesis, Melamed argues that, for Spinoza, ideas have a multifaceted (in fact, infinitely faceted) structure that allows one and the same idea to represent the infinitely many modes which are parallel to it in the infinitely many attributes. Thought turns out to be coextensive with the whole of nature. Spinoza cannot embrace an idealist reduction of Extension to Thought because of his commitment to the conceptual separation of the attributes. Yet, within Spinoza's metaphysics, Thought clearly has primacy over the other attributes insofar as it is the only attribute which is as elaborate, as complex, and, in some senses, as powerful as God.

Author Biography

Yitzhak Y. Melamed is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Johns Hopkins University. He works on Early Modern Philosophy, German Idealism, and some issues in contemporary metaphysics (time, mereology, and trope theory). Recently he won the ACLS Burkhardt (2011), NEH (2010), and Humboldt (2011) fellowships for his next major book project: Spinoza and German Idealism: A Metaphysical Dialogue.

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