Spinoza's Theory Of Monism

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In Part One of The Ethics, Spinoza establishes his substance monism and proves that God, as an infinite being, is the sole substance in the universe. The task that follows in Part Two is to explicate the character of everything else which flows from the nature of God. In Proposition 7, he outlines what has since been termed the “parallelism” doctrine (Heide 02 Mar). He faces the challenge of explaining why why ideas and bodies appear to be so consistently coordinated, given that they are modes of the distinct attributes of thought and extension respectively. They have nothing in common and, therefore, have no causal interaction with one another (Pr.3,I). According to his parallelism, ideas and bodies are merely two different expressions of …show more content…
God is the cause of bodies in virtue of being “an extended thing” and of ideas because he is also “a thinking thing.” Particular ideas are known through other modes of thought and, likewise, individual bodies are comprehended only through extension. Accordingly, there are two isolated causal explanations of the universe, one in terms of thought and the other in terms of extension. Since objects and ideas stem from different aspects of the same substance and share the same cause, Spinoza maintains that they will be completely in parallel. In the case of the circle, although it can be known through thought as an idea or through extension as an object, they are merely two facets of the same thing. The circle as an idea and as an object are not metaphysically distinct and, consequently, have the same efficient cause. They have distinct causal accounts only because ideas are caused by God 's essence as a thinking thing, and bodies by God 's essence as an extended thing …show more content…
Spinoza speaks as if there are a definite number of causal chains, two to be exact, which correspond only to the attributes of thought and extension. Even if these are the only attributes which can be grasped by human comprehension, it still seems as though there ought to be infinite causal explanations for the universe, all running in perfect parallel with each other. However, Spinoza 's concern in The Ethics is providing a metaphysical picture which invokes the metaphysical substance, attributes, and modes that are accessible to human understanding and relevant to how the universe appears to us. Because humans are limited to comprehension through extension and thought, there is only the need to explain how ideas and bodies correspond to one another. This is not incompatible with there actually being other types of modes, expressed through attributes unknown to us, which have their own causal explanations that also run parallel to those we are aware of. Spinoza, therefore, makes no contradiction when he accounts only for the attributes of thought and

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