Nucleophilicity

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When substance is considered in one way, then the essence of substance is thought ; when substance is considered in another way, then the essence of substance is extension. What the essence of substance is taken to be will depend upon how the substance is being considered. Della Rocca, however, does not have to accept that attributes are themselves substances. An attribute is not a substance according to this view contra Curley ; an attribute is simply the essence of a substance under some description or way of conceiving of that substance.

That is, the order of modes under the attribute of extension is the same as the order of modes under the attribute of thought. Spinoza explains this idea in an important and controversial scholium.

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He claims that. Therefore, whether we conceive nature under the attribute of Extension, or under the attribute of Thought, or under any other attribute, we shall find one and the same order, or one and the same connection of causes, i. Bennett and others reject the numerical identity interpretation of parallelism on the grounds that it commits Spinoza to a contradiction.

Spinoza claims that there is no causal interaction between minds and bodies at E3p2.

This argument is presented by both Bennett , and Delahunty , to argue against the identity of minds and bodies in Spinoza. What could that mean if not that minds and bodies are identical? Minds and bodies are not fully identical. See Bennett , Thus, my body is a trans-attribute mode combined with the attribute of extension; my mind is that same trans-attribute mode combined with the attribute of thought.

Bennett thus rejects the interpretation of parallelism whereby a body and a mind are one and the same thing. A body and its parallel mind merely share a part namely, a trans-attribute mode. By contrast Della Rocca argues that minds and bodies in Spinoza are fully identical. Della Rocca argues that the notion of referential opacity see the Objectivism section above can allow Spinoza to accept both the identity of minds and bodies without accepting that minds and bodies causally interact.


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Della Rocca claims that causal contexts in Spinoza are referentially opaque. That is, x is the cause of y only under certain descriptions or ways of thinking about x. Thus, Della Rocca argues that the claim that minds and bodies are identical does not entail that minds and bodies causally interact because whether x caused y or not depends upon how x is described.

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See Della Rocca a, , That is, what it is to be a cat is just to strive in a certain cat-like way. What it is to be a desk is for the complex body to strive in a certain desk-like way. Every thing that exists—every particle, rock, plant, animal, planet, solar system, idea, mind, etc. From the claim that the essence of every mode is its striving to persist Spinoza derives much of his physics, psychology, moral philosophy, and political theory in Parts III, IV, and V of the Ethics. Is each mode trying to survive? Are modes goal - oriented things? Or is Spinoza simply claiming that everything that modes do helps them to survive while not claiming that modes are acting purposively?

Garrett , for example, provides an influential defense of the validity of the argument. Likewise, Waller provides a partial defense of the first third of the argument.

Spinoza clearly denies the claim that God or Nature has a purpose or plan for the universe. The universe simply exists because it could not fail to exist. Hence, they consider all natural things as means to their own advantage. And knowing that they had found these means, not provided them for themselves, they had reason to believe that there was someone else who had prepared the means for their use … And since they had never heard anything about the temperament of these rules, they had to judge from themselves. Hence, they maintained that the gods direct all things for the use of men in order to bind men to them and be held by men in the highest honor.

The earth does not exist so that we may live on it. The universe is not designed for the good of human beings. The universe has no purpose; it simply exists. These ideas were revolutionary in the seventeenth century and remain controversial even today. The claim that human actions are not purposive or goal-oriented is startling and presents us with a very different theory of what human beings are. To understand the impact of this claim, consider the following example: if I walk across the room to get a drink of water, we might believe that this activity is purposive or goal-oriented.

I am walking across the room in order to get a glass of water. My behavior is partly explained in the common sense view by my goal or purpose that is, getting a drink of water. Bennett , , however, claims that according to Spinoza this explanation of my behavior must be wrong. Rather I walk across the room because my organs were organized in a certain way such that when light strikes my eyes, it moves certain parts of my brain, which in turn moves certain tendons in my legs, which in turn causes my legs to move back and forth in certain ways, carrying my body to the counter, moving my hand toward the water fountain, etc.

That is, my behavior can be fully and completely understood mechanistically, just like a watch. The springs inside a watch do not move so that the watch may indicate the correct time, rather the clock indicates the correct time because the springs and levers move in a certain way.

Baruch Spinoza (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Similarly with human beings, they do not walk in order to get to certain places; they get to certain places because they walk. When considering a human being under the attribute of thought, Spinoza would claim that certain ideas follow logically from other ideas in just the way that certain effects follow necessarily from certain causes in the physical world. In just the way that the universe exists without any purpose or goal, so every action performed by every human similarly is done for no purpose or goal. We do what we do simply because we could not fail to—our actions simply follow from the organization of our many complex parts.

See Curley and Bennett for more on this debate. Is all of nature goal-oriented, even though the whole of nature is not? Some including Garrett think so. Spinoza does not seem fully consistent on the point. When Spinoza attempts to treat all of nature, including human behavior and emotions, in a completely deterministic scientific way—as if human beings were just complicated clocks—he struggles to remain consistent. The argument is usefully summarized by Garrett as follows:.

That is, Spinoza begins by arguing that no thing can destroy itself E3p4.

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From the claim that no thing can destroy itself, Spinoza then infers that no two things which can destroy each other can be parts of the same whole E3p5. From this claim Spinoza infers that each thing must strive to persevere in its own being E3p6. There seem to be numerous invalid inferences here.


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The first occurs right at the beginning of the argument. In the first three lines, Spinoza infers that since a definition of something does not contain anything inconsistent with the thing, that a thing contains nothing contrary to its own nature. But this inference seems invalid. But it does not follow that a thing cannot have certain accidental properties not mentioned in the definition which are capable of destroying the thing.

List of works about Baruch Spinoza

Thus, Spinoza seems to mistakenly infer a claim about the whole thing both essential and accidental properties from a premise which merely concerns the essence. See Bennett , ; Della Rocca b, Another invalid inference occurs toward the end of the argument in lines 6 and Spinoza infers that since two things cannot both be parts of the same whole, they must actively oppose one another.

However, perhaps they could simply be in a passive relation to one another. It is one thing to passively resist, and it is quite another to actively resist. See Garber , for more on this objection and its roots in Leibniz. See, for example, Garrett Jason Waller Email: jsnwaller yahoo. Benedict de Spinoza: Metaphysics Baruch or, in Latin, Benedict de Spinoza was one of the most important rationalist philosophers in the early modern period, along with Descartes , Leibniz , and Malebranche.


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  8. When citing the Ethics begin with the Part number, then use the following shorthand: a Axiom d Definition l Lemma post. Postulate p Proposition c Corollary d demonstration s Scholium exp. The basic structure of the argument is as follows: Every substance has at least one attribute. Premise 1, E1d4 Two substances cannot share the same nature or attribute. Premise 2, E1p5 God has all possible attributes. Premise 4, E1p11 Therefore, no other substance other than God can exist. Formally, the argument is as follows: Two substances are distinguished from each other either by a difference in attributes or a difference in modes.

    Premise 1 Substance is prior in nature to its modes. Premise 2, E1p1 If two substances A and B are indistinguishable, then they are identical. Premise 3 If substances A and B differ only in attributes, then A and B are two different substances with different natures. From 1, 2 But if substances A and B are indistinguishable, then they are identical.

    From 3, 5 Thus, no two substances can share a nature or attribute. From 4, 6 The Arguments for Premise Four E1p11 In the demonstration of E1p11, Spinoza explicitly provides a number of different proofs for the existence of a substance with infinite attributes namely, God.

    It is impossible for two substances to have the same attribute or essence Premise 2, E1p5.