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Spinoza’s Argument for Substance Monism and Common Objections Spinoza’s Ethics is widely thought of as Spinoza’s greatest work. One noteworthy claim that he makes in his Ethics is his argument for substance monism, or the existence of only one substance. In Proposition 14, Part I of his Ethics, Spinoza states that “There can be, or be conceived, no other substance but God.” This statement amounts to saying that everything else in this world, whether it is extended or not, is a mere image of God. Spinoza’s proof for this comes in three steps. One, assume that no two substances can share an attribute. Two, assume that there exists a substance that contains infinite attributes. Three, by these two assumptions, another substance cannot exist…show more content…
Therefore, even if we could distinguish between two different affections, it would not necessarily say anything about the substances in themselves. Thus, we cannot distinguish between substances just by their affections. Thus, substances can only be distinguished by attributes, in which case no two substances can share an attribute. The second assumption Spinoza makes in proving substance monism is that God exists. Spinoza gives many proofs for this, I will only give one. It is given that for every thing there must be a cause or reason for its existence or non-existence. It is also given that this reason must be inside, or outside the thing being considered. Suppose God does not exist. The reason for this must be inside or outside God. First, if the reason is inside God, it goes against our definition of God as a substance because substances necessarily exist (Proposition 7.) Thus the reason is not inside God. Second, if the reason exists outside God, then we would be implying that a thing outside of God exists that is causing God’s non-existence. This thing that explains God then necessarily has the same nature as God because if not, it could not be the cause of God (Proposition 3.) But if it does have the same nature, we would consequently be claiming that God exists because this thing outside of god will identical to God. Thus, no matter where the reason for God’s non-existence lies, we cannot prove that God does not exist, and therefore God must exist.

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