Two Kinds of Definition in Spinoza's Ethics

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Spinoza scholars have claimed that we are faced with a dilemma: either Spinoza's definitions in his Ethics are real, in spite of indications to the contrary, or the definitions are nominal and the propositions derived from them are false. I argue that Spinoza did not recognize the distinction between real and nominal definitions. Rather, Spinoza classified definitions according to whether they require a priori or a posteriori justification, which is a classification distinct from either the real/nominal or the intensional/extensional classification. I argue that Spinoza uses both a priori and a posteriori definitions in the Ethics and that recognizing both types of definitions allows us to understand Spinoza's geometric method in a new way. We can now understand the geometric method as two methods, one resulting in propositions that Spinoza considers to be absolutely certain and another resulting in propositions that Spinoza does not consider certain. The latter method makes use of a posteriori definitions and postulates, whereas the former method uses only a priori definitions and axioms.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
MESTKO
Revision history
First archival date: 2010-04-21
Latest version: 2 (2013-09-04)
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Spinoza I. Dieu.Gueroult, M.
The Art of Thinking: Port-Royal Logic.Hall, Roland; Arnauld, Antoine; Dickoff, James; James, Patricia & Hendel, Charles W.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2010-04-22

Total views
694 ( #3,871 of 43,722 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
111 ( #4,362 of 43,722 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.