How Does Spinoza Argue for his Position That There is One Substance Only with an Infinity of Attributes? What Criticisms of his Argument are Most Compelling, and Why?
Spinoza believes that here is one substance only, and that this substance is God. The Universe is not made up of a number of substances, it contains, according to Spinoza, only one substance, with an infinite number of attributes. In this essay, I will define Spinoza’s idea of substance, and why he believes that there is only one. I will also describe what he means by attributes. I will then go on to give a criticism of his theory, and why this criticism is compelling.
Before I begin explaining Spinoza’s position that there is only one substance with an infinity of attributes, I will explain a few of Spinoza’s Definitions. These are necessary for the understanding of his ideas of substance and attributes, which he expresses at the beginning of his work Ethics.
Spinoza begins his Ethics, with the definition of ‘cause in itself’. By cause in itself Spinoza means that substance is conceived in itself and that it is its nature to exist. His second definition addresses the notion of finite and infinite. Finite things denote that things have limits. This means that things are always limited by something greater than themselves. These limits only arise within ‘its own kind’. For example thought can only be limited by greater thoughts and physical things can only be limited by greater bodies. His third Definition explains his concept of substance. According to Spinoza, to exist is to be substance or to be in substance. It is the unity of all reality. Substance is conceived in itself, it exists only in itself and it is caused in itself. It does not come from anything, since it is conceived and caused in itself. In other words, it cannot be explained in terms of anything else, as there is nothing outside it that makes it what it is. Spinoza asserts that we can only perceive the...