21 Dec 2008

Spinoza's Ethics Part 1, Proposition 1, 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"

Proposition I:

Prop. I. Substance is by nature prior to its modifications.

[Substance can be modified, but these modifications presuppose that which they modify, namely, substance.]

Proof.-This is clear from Deff. iii. and v.

[Substance is conceived by and through itself, but modes are conceived by and through the substance they modify, hence modes presuppose the substance they modify, and thus substance is prior to its modifications.]

Deleuze's Commentary

Propositions 1-8: The first stage in the proof of the reality of the definition: numerical distinction not being real, every really distinct attribute is infinitely perfect, and every qualified substance is unique, necessary and infinite. This sequence obviously relies only upon the first five definitions.

Propositions 1-8, première étape de la démonstration de la réalité de la définition : la distinction numérique n'étant pas réelle, chaque attribut réellement distinct est infiniment parfait, chaque substance qualifiée est unique, nécessaire et infinie. Cette série, évidemment, doit s'appuyer seulement sur les cinq premières définitions.

From the Latin:

Substantia prior est natura suis affectionibus.

Patet ex Definitione 3 & 5.


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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