Spinozas metaphysics of desire

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In IIIP6, Spinoza claims that all things strive to persevere in their being. The importance of this claim for Spinoza's philosophy cannot be overestimated. It is central to his metaphysics, psychology, ethics, and political philosophy. Yet, most recent commentators have viewed the demonstration of IIIP6 with skepticism. These commentators usually interpret the demonstration as an argument from the impossibility of self-destruction. I argue that, although the demonstration does indeed contain such an argument, there is a second and more persuasive argument in the demonstration that proceeds from the premise that singular things express divine power. I start with an interpretation of Spinoza's notion of "expression" and show how it relates to his conception of efficient causality. In particular, I argue that the idea that effects express the natures of their efficient causes can be better understood if we take into account certain assumptions about efficient causality widely held in the seventeenth century. On the basis of this interpretation of expression, I show that Spinoza's conatus doctrine is a natural consequence of his main premise: that finite things express divine power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-55
Number of pages35
JournalArchiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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