Spinoza holds that a substance is that which is "in itself" and "conceived through itself" (Def. 3). A substance is "self-caused" (that is, its existence derives from its own essence). Now, this leads to a rather unorthodox view: since bodies and human minds derive their being and many of their properties from external causes, they can't be substances. We approximate substances, however. We model in a finite and limited way the absolute nature of the one real substance. In a sense, the real substance "exerts" it power through us (Garrett).
Attribute is that the intellect perceives of a substance, as constituting its essence" (Def. 4)
Extension and Thought are attributes. God is only substance and has infinite attributes.
A mode is "the affection (or quality) of a substance
Proof of God being only substance: Proposition 14, God can be the only substance. This follows from Definition 6 and Props 5 and 11.
Prop 5: There cannot be two or more substances that have the same attribute (essence). Well, substances cannot be distinguished by a difference in modes (affections), since substance is prior to its modes (Defs. 3 and 5). But if they are distinguished by a difference of attributes, then there cannot be more than one substance of the same attribute. For remember that an attribute constitutes the essence of a substance
God (substance with infinite attributes) necessarily exists. What is God but a substance with infinite attributes? So if such a substance exists, God does! Challenge: Try to conceive of God not existing. By doing so, by Axiom 7, you would be denying that his essence involves existence. But Prop. 7 tells us that existence belongs to the very essence of substance. Interestingly, Spinoza provides two more proofs of God's existence. The third proof is a posteriori, however. Can you see how? Well, there's a premise that asserts that "we do exist" (AW 133). At any rate, the main argument for Prop. 11 (Spinoza's "first proof") goes like this:
Prop 7 (existence belongs to the essence of a substance
Prop 8 (each substance is necessarily infinite)
Prop 5 (There cannot be 2 or more substances that have the same attribute)
Therefore, Prop 11 God, substance with infinite attributes, necessarily exists. Try to conceive of God not existing.
There is no divine final (teleological) connection, it is not as if "God himself directs everything to a fixed end" (AW 145). Locally, there exist final causes, but globally, no. There is no divine final (teleological) causation.
In other words, "if God acts with an end in view, he must necessarily be seeking something that he lacks" (AW 146) or desires something that is not yet existent.
Four different types of a cause:
Material- what its made of
Formal- its form
Efficient- how or what produced it
Final- why it was made
"all men are born ignorant of the causes of things [and so] they all a desire to seek their own advantage, a desire of which they are conscious.
This is a pure prejudice. Being ignorant in causes=caused supernaturally. People take refuge in will of God, sanction of ignorance.
From this it follows, firstly, that men believe that they are free, precisely because they are conscious of their volitions [willings] and desires; yet concerning the causes that have determined them to desire and will they do not think, not even dream about, because they are ignorant of them.
Secondly, men act always with an end in view, that is, the advantage that they seek. Therefore it happens that they are always looking only for the final causes of things done, and are satisfied when they 'find' them, having, of course, no reason for further doubt" (AW 145).
Spinoza believes people begin to rank properties of what is most valuable to us.
"Good" what fits our needs
"Bad" doesn't fit our needs
Can escape this by using intellect alone. So how do keep ourselves from invoking final causes? We have got to keep our imagination in check and follow our intellect (understanding) alone. Imagination gives rise to error; understanding/intellect will not. Spinoza does in fact end on an optimistic note:
[I]f men understood things, all that I have put forward would be found, if not attractive, at any rate convincing, as Mathematics attests. (AW 148)
Washington crossing the Delaware is contingent, right? It might not have happened. But for Leibniz even contingent truths are analytic, which means that crossing the Delaware, among other predicates, is included in the subject Washington. It's always been included, even before Washington came into existence. So how is it possible that Washington might not have crossed the Delaware?
First, he points out that freedom is spontaneity. As long as we are the ones acting, and nothing is forcing us to act, then we are genuinely free.
How could we have done otherwise, given that all substances have a complete "blueprint" of all their predicates even before substances come to exist?
To show how we could have done otherwise, Leibniz appeals to God's act of creation. God could have created a world in which Washington did not exist. So it could have been the case that Washington did not cross the Delaware. So the fact that Washington did cross the Delaware is contingent.
Logical inferences from Christian faith:
1. God created a world
2.God existed prior to his act of creation
3. God's actions are free, he could've acted otherwise
Therefore, 4. God did not have to create a world at all.
There are an infinite number of possible substances. Since each substance has a complete concept, not all substances can exist simultaneously. Nevertheless, there are still an infinite number of possible sets or combinations of substances that can exist simultaneously. In other words, there are an infinite number of compossible substances. These are called possible worlds
Q: What exactly does it mean to be best of all possible worlds? Leibniz's quick answer: "[O]ut of the infinite combinations of possible, and the infinite possible series, that one exists by whose means the greatest possible amount of essence or possibility is brought into existence." (138)
God choice is among possible worlds not possible individuals.
Although every series has some sort of order—the most harmonious order involves the greatest variety of phenomena regulated by the simplest laws. (For this reason, Leibniz is sometimes called the most "baroque" of all philosophers.) Now, God wants to maximize harmony, so he will choose the world that best fulfills the variety/simplicity criterion.
Some argue that the best possible world embodies the ideal TRADE-OFF of variety and simplicity, which they take to be in conflict with each other. This is a very natural reaction. Too simple laws produce monotony. Too varied phenomena produce chaos, so lose orderliness. Accordingly, the best world is higher on the variety index than some, but lower than others—same with simplicity.
But Leibniz also says that simplicity is the means to variety. That is, achieving the most diversity requires using the simplest laws of nature. "Complicated processes take up too much ground, too much space, too much time that might have been better employed." So Leibniz emphasizes the notions of efficiency and productivity. (This contradicts the idea that there are possible worlds exactly like ours with more complex laws.)