21 Dec 2008

Spinoza's Ethics Part 1, Proposition 2, with Deleuze's commentary

[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 II:

Prop. II. Two substances, whose attributes are different, have nothing in common.

[If we can suppose two different substances with different essences, then we cannot say that they share anything essentially in common.]

Proof.-Also evident from Def. iii. For each must exist in itself, and be conceived through itself ; in other words, the conception of one does not imply the conception of the other.

[So if we supposed that there are two substances each with different attributes, but that they shared at least one, then we would contradict the definition of substance.

For, if we conceived one, then we are conceiving it in terms of an attribute that characterizes another substance as well. This attribute, then, would characterize two different substances. To conceive one of them would be to conceive it as a member of a class including another substance, that is, to conceive it in terms of something extrinsic to it. But we defined substance as being something that we can conceive without conceiving anything else, that is, anything extrinsic to it.

Thus if there are different substances, then they cannot share a common attribute; for, that would lead to the contradiction of a substance being conceived by means of extrinsic properties.]

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:

Duæ substantiæ, diversa attributa habentes, nihil inter se commune habent.
Patet etiam ex Defin. 3. Unaquæque enim in se debet esse, & per se debet concipi, sive conceptus unius conceptum alterius non involvit.


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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