21 Dec 2008

Spinoza's Ethics Part 1, Definition 5, 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 V:

V. By mode, I mean the modifications of substance, or that which exists in, and is conceived through, something other than itself.

[When substance is modified, this produces a mode; it is a modality of substance's being, that is, a quantitative expression (the mode's level of power) of the essential qualitative expressions that are substance's attributes. Because they are modifications of something else, we cannot conceive them without also conceiving what they modify, hence they cannot be conceived on their own.]

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:

V. Per modum intelligo substantiæ affectiones, sive id, quod in alio esc, per quod etiam concipitur.

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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