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Spinoza and the Problem of Contingency

Gregor Moder, University of Ljubljana

Tue, 4/30 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 111 East Pyne

Department of French and Italian

Spinoza appears to be the paradigmatic thinker of necessity. He writes quite directly that there is nothing contingent in nature (nullum datur contingens) and that everything is determined to exist from the necessity of the divine nature. We only refer to certain things as contingent because of the imperfection of our knowledge. Even when Spinoza criticizes the notion of Divine Providence, he does not argue in favor of irreducible contingency in the order of nature: what he criticizes is the idea that God acts according to his free will, arguing instead in favor of God’s determination of all things. This paper will take the hard way of putting pressure on Spinoza precisely by discussing the question of contingency, a question that has risen in prominence in contemporary philosophical debates. The central argument will revolve around the separation between epistemology and ontology on the one hand and temporality on the other.

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