Josipa Mickova

Josipa Mickova (MA in Philosophy, 2021), ‘On the Relationship between the Infinite and Finite, and between Adequate and Inadequate Knowledge in Spinoza’s Philosophy

The relationship between substance and modes is an enduring problem in Spinoza studies. How this relationship is understood is consequential on all aspects of Spinoza’s tightly knit philosophical system. This thesis focuses on two problems downstream from this core issue, namely the relationship between the infinite and finite, and that between adequate and inadequate knowledge, both of which are also matters of ongoing debate. I propose new solutions to these problems that avoid the consequences of fatalism and escapism that, I suggest, are endemic in dominant solutions to these problems in the contemporary Anglo-American literature. The latter are characteristic of naturalising renderings of Spinoza’s system that, I suggest, level the ontological ground between substance and modes, thereby construing substance as a top-down force that determines modes. By contrast, I maintain an ontological distinction through a bottom-up model, on which substance becomes the determining ground that determines modes insofar as it enables them to be modes. My solution explains the relationship between substance and modes through Spinoza’s causal apparatus, which allows for these downstream problems to be reframed and thereby dissolved.

Supervisors: Andrew Inkpin, Knox Peden, Joe Hughes