Was Spinoza a Naturalist?

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (1):77-99 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this article I dispute the claim, made by several contemporary scholars, that Spinoza was a naturalist. ‘Naturalism’ here refers to two distinct but related positions in contemporary philosophy. The first, ontological naturalism, is the view that everything that exists possesses a certain character permitting it to be defined as natural and prohibiting it from being defined as supernatural. I argue that the only definition of ontological naturalism that could be legitimately applied to Spinoza's philosophy is so unrestrictive as to tell us nothing about the content of his ideas. The second, methodological naturalism, is the view that the natural sciences are the best means of finding out substantial truths about the concrete world. I present some historical research showing that Spinoza's way of positioning himself with respect to other philosophers in the Dutch Republic casts very serious doubt on the claim that he was a methodological naturalist. This adds further weight to arguments that have already been made against the naturalist reading of Spinoza



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,369

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

La ontología naturalista de Spinoza como ontología de la pasión.Inmaculada Hoyos Sánchez - 2012 - Logos. Anales Del Seminario de Metafísica [Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España] 45:95-122.
Naturalism: So Easily Wrong.Robert Cummings Neville - 2013 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 34 (3):199-213.
Spinoza on Universals.Halla Kim - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 16:149-155.
Spinoza on Having a False Idea.Douglas Lewis - 2007 - Metaphysica 8 (1):17-27.
Spinoza on Destroying Passions with Reason.Colin Marshall - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (1):139-160.
Nietzsche’s Naturalism Reconsidered.Brian Leiter - 2013 - In Ken Gemes & John Richardson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche. Oxford University Press.
Collingwoods Reading of Spinozas Psychology.Alexander Douglas - 2012 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 18 (1):65-80.


Added to PP

97 (#179,568)

6 months
14 (#185,919)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

Essence, Experiment, and Underdetermination in the Spinoza-Boyle Correspondence.Stephen Harrop - 2022 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 12 (2):447-484.
Is Spinoza's Ethics Metaethically Constructivist?Christos Kyriacou - 2022 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 39 (2):131-146.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations