The Allegedly Cartesian Roots of Spinoza's MetaphysicsSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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There is a familiar story about Spinoza on which his substance monism arises straightforwardly from Descartes’ own conception of substance, which the latter combines—not entirely consistently—with substance pluralism. I argue that this story is mistaken: substance pluralism is fully consistent with Descartes’ conception of substance; it is also consistent with his claim that the term ‘substance’ is non-univocal. In defense of these claims, I argue that Descartes denies, whereas Spinoza accepts, that causation precludes the kind of independence that is characteristic of substance; further, I show how Descartes’ denial is based on his view that causal relations do not belong to the natures of their relata, whereas Spinoza’s acceptance follows from his commitment to an intimate link between causation and conception (conceiving-through), which Descartes also rejects.