21 Dec 2008

Spinoza's Ethics Part 1, Definition 2, with Deleuze's Commentary

by Corry Shores
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[the following is quotation; my summary and commentary is in brackets. Deleuze’s commentary is at the end. The Latin text comes last.]

Spinoza, Ethics,

Part I "Concerning God"

Definition II:

II. A thing is called finite after its kind, when it can be limited by another thing of the same nature ; for instance, a body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited by another thought, but a body is not limited by thought, nor a thought by body.

[Something is "finite after its kind" if another thing of the same nature limits it. Extensive bodies are considered finite, because we can always conceive of another greater body limiting it.

And because they must be of the same kind, one thought can only limit another thought, and one body can only limit another body, and so forth.]

Deleuze's Commentary:

The opening scheme of the Ethics is thus as follows: 1. Definitions 1-5: Merely nominal definitions, needed in the mechanism of subsequent proofs.


Le plan du début de l'Ethique est donc le suivant: 1) Définitions 1-5: ce sont de simples définitions nominales, nécessaires au mécanisme des démonstrations futures.


From the Latin:

II. Ea res dicitur in suo genere finita, quæ alia ejusdem naturæ terminari potest. Ex. gr. corpus dicitur finitum, quia aliud semper majus concipimus. Sic cogitatio alia cogitatione terminatur. At corpus non terminatur cogitatione, nec cogitatio corpore.


Deleuze, Gilles. Spinoza et le problème de l'expression. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1968.

Deleuze, Gilles. Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza. Trans. Martin Joughin. New York: Zone Books, 1990.

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


Spinoza. Ethica. available online at:


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