Stuart Hampshire: Spinoza and Spinozism (Oxford University Press 1951-1988) Rousing discussion of issues relating to Einheitswissenschaft and the scientific study of human activities and mental processes. Some of these even bear a tangential relation to Spinoza's actual writings.


1. Substituting "explanation" for "cause" in the Ethics does not materially aid in understanding Spinoza's argument. For "a explains a" is as nearly devoid of meaning as "a causes a."

2. Hampshire certainly wants to show that he is one logically tough-minded son of a gun. But, despite saying repeatedly that “This follows logically” or “That is a logical contradiction”, he misses error after error in the specifics of Spinoza’s proofs.

3. Hampshire argues that Spinoza is simply tracing the logical consequences of the current Scholastic definition of "substance" but he needs to clarify what he means by "the current scholastic definition of substance." Spinoza's conception of substance as something whose conception depends on no other thing (alterius rei) mirrors Anselm's one thing that exists through itself (ipsum solum per seipsum). The logical consequence of this definition is that there is nothing distinct from substance defined in this way. Everything else is just a mode or an attribute of this substance. The upshot is nothing more than a mockery of the ontological proof of the existence of God by showing that it merely proves that something, dubbed "natura," exists.

4. The attempt to explain Spinoza's assertion that natural occurrences occur by necessity in terms of a distinction between free and voluntary behavior (p. 49) is the sort of horseshit that would have won a gold star from Anselm. It obscures Spinoza's very simple doctrine that nobody created the universe and no one is responsible for natural occurrences. And just differentiating free and voluntary behavior is just verbal mumbo jumbo.