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Spinoza’s Views on God’s Infiniteness

There are many views and positions regarding the existence and form of God. Spinoza was the first who dared to refute the concept of the dualism of matter and spirit, uniting these concepts in the concept of God, who is equal to Nature. This approach was revolutionary in the 17th century and therefore caused lively discussions, both in scientific and religious circles. However, from the standpoint of the humanistic worldview that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Spinoza’s view of the Universe is not ubiquitous and can be criticized. This paper aims to argue that Spinoza was not entirely successful in his account of the existence of God as an absolutely infinite substance.

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To start with, it is necessary to outline the main contradiction that could arise between the humanists and Spinoza. Humanists defend the position that people have free will and the right to happiness and are free to create their world for the benefit of other people. Humanists consider the position of a person as central in the creation of the surrounding world and the creation of conditions for their own life. Therefore, humanists fundamentally reject supernatural views of reality. It is noteworthy that the position of the humanists is also consonant with the understanding of ethics in ancient Greece, when the whole world could be viewed from the standpoint of legality rather than morality, spirituality, or religion.

Therefore, it can be assumed that humanists would not agree that Spinoza’s ideas are universal. The reason for this disagreement is the focus on God and Nature and the almost complete exclusion of a person with his desires and aspirations from the discussion. Remarkably, Spinoza notes that one should not take the idea of original sin as the ideological basis (Love, 2020). He also suggests looking for God in the mountains and the fields, in love for neighbors, doing good deeds, and not waiting for accusations, condemnations, or eternal torment for the fact that a person has a human nature. However, Spinoza confines himself to these remarks, devoting his thoughts to the Divine, the supernatural, which was insignificant from the point of view of humanists.

Spinoza defines God as an infinite substance that is embodied in both the material and immaterial world. He also divides Nature into Natura naturans, or creative Nature, and Natura naturata, or created Nature. Spinoza argues that such a substance cannot be divided or divisible, or of course, because it is absurd. It is likely that this reasoning is not sufficient and could be supplemented. For example, since Spinoza views God in terms of the supernatural, he might try to explain the absurdity of the finitude of God from this position.

In particular, it should be noted that if God were finite, he would have form, but this is contrary to the original postulate. It can also be added that if God were finite, he would be knowable, whereas, from the point of view of metaphysics, the very concept of God is that he is, by definition, unknowable. If we assume that God or Nature is a completely infinite substance, then such a substance has no boundaries. But this is not true for the world of forms since in the visible world, everything has boundaries, and a person, being part of the world of forms, in this case, would not be able to know God or Nature, which is not true, since God or Nature is what a person knows with his soul.

It is noteworthy that a discussion on such a plane can lead to the conclusion that a man cognizes God or Nature with his soul. Probably, Spinoza foresaw such a turn and wanted to avoid speculations about the human soul and the Nature of his soul. Such reasoning could cause an unpredictable reaction in religious circles, as it would be a direct challenge to the Biblical understanding of the soul. Leaving aside the discussion of the relationship between God and man and confining himself only to the assumption of what God would say to a man, Spinoza tried to smooth things over and avoid offenses since religious people could consider themselves offended by his reasoning.

Thus, Spinoza was not entirely successful in his account of the existence of God as an absolutely infinite substance. His argument is that God is an infinite substance since it cannot be divided since if it were divided, it would be finite; it is not exhaustive. Spinoza could pay special attention to explaining why God or Nature is an infinite substance, which would help to find answers to important questions. For example, such reasoning would help to find answers to questions about the recognizability of God or the Spirit of Nature by man. At the same time, Spinoza’s argumentation may have been deliberately limited due to the realities of relations between religious and scientific elites. Spinoza probably wanted his work to be published and to gain approval and recognition as he strove to spread knowledge of the Divine.

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Reference

Love, E. (2020). Einstein: “I believe in the God of Spinoza.” Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Spinoza’s Views on God’s Infiniteness." December 17, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/spinozas-views-on-gods-infiniteness/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Spinoza’s Views on God’s Infiniteness'. 17 December.

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