28 Oct 2008

Spinoza's Ontological Argument

by Corry Shores
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From Ethics Book I:

Prop. XI. God, or substance, consisting of infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality, necessarily exists.

Proof.-If this be denied, conceive, if possible, that God does not exist : then his essence does not involve existence. But this (Prop. vii.) is absurd. Therefore God necessarily exists.

For Reducio:

1. God does not exist, in other words, his essence does not involve existence (because: if god did not exist, then we cannot include in our definition of god that he exists, for it is not of his essence to exist, and definitions articulate the essence of a thing).

2. from Prop vii: Existence belongs to the nature of substances.

3. from Def vi: VI. By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite-that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality

4. But, [as a substance] God exists. (Hypothetical Syllogism for classes: If A is included in B, and B in C, then A is included in C. God is a substance. All substances have existence, thus God has existence). Contra 1, hence:

5. God exists, Q.E.D

Spinoza. Ethics. Transl. Elwes. available online at:


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