21 Dec 2008

Spinoza's Ethics Part 1, Proposition 4, 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 IV:
Prop. IV. Two or more distinct things are distinguished one from the other, either by the difference of the attributes of the substances, or by the difference of their modifications.

[There are only two ways possible to distinguish things, either by 1) their substance's attributes, or 2) their different modifications.]

Proof.-Everything which exists, exists either in itself or in something else (Ax. i.),-that is (by Deff. iii. and v.), nothing is granted in addition to the understanding, except substance and its modifications. Nothing is, therefore, given besides the understanding, by which several things may be distinguished one from the other, except the substances, or, in other words (see Def. iv.), their attributes and modifications. Q.E.D.

[It is self-evident that something must exist either in itself or in something else, for lack of a third option. And because substance is that which exists in itself and modes are that which exist in something else, we have specifically these two things that can be given to our understanding: substance and its modifications. So we know that modifications are one way to distinguish things. Moreover, we know that attributes are different ways we may conceive substance's essential qualities, hence attributes are another way we may distinguish things. Thus we have two ways to distinguish things, by their attributes and by their 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:

Duæ, aut plures res distinctæ, vel inter se distinguuntur ex diversitate attributorum substantiarum, vel ex diversitate earundem affectionum.
Omnia, quæ sunt, vel in se, vel in alio sunt (per Axiom. 1), hoc est (per Defin. 3 & 5) extra intellectum nihil datur præter substantias, earumque affectiones. Nihil ergo extra intellectum datur, per quod plures res distingui inter se possunt præter substantias, sive quod idem est (per Defin. 4) earum attributa, earumque affectiones. Q.E.D.


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:


No comments:

Post a Comment