‘Ethical Difference’: Spinoza and Deleuze (Part II)


I. The Function Of Parallelism In Spinoza’s Ethical Theory

However, there is perhaps still another proposition in Spinoza’s Ethics, which would present a possible contradiction with our prior argument regarding the metaphysical status of IIP7. In IIIP2 Spinoza writes that: “The body cannot determine the mind to thinking, and the mind cannot determine the body to motion, to rest, or to anything else (if there is anything else).” Thus, even if we have successfully refuted a mind-body dualism regarding IIP7, it would seem that Spinoza’s claim in IIIP2 adds a further implication to his arguments in IIP7. Not only is the order and connection between ideas and things one and the same; now, the order of ideas (thought) and the order of things (extension) appears to lack causal relations between each other when they modally exist in the form of human beings. By turning our attention to Spinoza’s reference to IIP7 and his justification in the scholium in IIIP2 we can begin to understand how, even at this moment in Spinoza’s larger argument, the parallelism thesis still does not argue for the absence of any interaction between the mind and the body, and its relevance for a Spinozist ethical theory.

Spinoza writes that his argument regarding IIIP2 is “more clearly understood from what is said in IIP7S, namely, that the mind and the body are one and the same thing, which is conceived now under the attribute of thought, now under the attribute of extension.” If Spinoza’s demonstration for IIIP2 now concerns human existence in relation to IIP7, what is the logical function of this appeal to God as justification? And how does this relate to the seeming parallelism between the mind and the body? The parallel relation arises, as we have seen, due to the causal relations between the attributes of thought and extension. For Spinoza, thought does not bring about the attribute of extension and extension does not bring about the attribute of thought (parallelism), rather it is God who is the cause of both thought and extension, which are understood to be expressions of God’s essence.

However, even considering the relationship between God and the attributes, Spinoza makes it clear that the attributes of thought and extension are simply two ways of understanding substance itself: “thinking substance and extended substance are one and the same substance, which is now comprehended under this attribute, now under that.” If there is a separation in the causal order of the attributes of thought and extension at the metaphysical level, it is because thought and extension do not determine each other; thought cannot bring about the essence of extension and extension cannot bring about the essence of thought. It is only God as initial cause which expresses his essence and brings into existence the attributes of thought and extension. This would, then, be the reason for Spinoza proceeding in his demonstration of IIIP2 in the following manner: “All modes of thinking have God for a cause, insofar as he is a thinking thing, and not insofar as he is explained by another attribute (by IIP6). So what determines the mind to thinking is a mode of thinking and not of extension, that is (by IID1), it is not the body.” Given these remarks regarding the metaphysical implications of the demonstration of IIIP2, we can now turn our attention toward the epistemological and ethical consequences of Spinoza’s justification.

If the attributes of thought and extension with their corresponding mode of mind and body, respectively, are one and the same substance only considered in two different manners, two main consequences follow from this: i) the mind and the body are united in the same individual, which can be explained in two ways and ii) the distinction between thought and extension, between mind and body is not a metaphysical difference since they express one and the same substance, but an ethical distinction.

Regarding the first point the emphasis must be placed on explanation, since this is the content of Spinoza’s demonstration of IIIP2 and serves as his epistemological argument in relation to parallelism. As we have just seen, when God is understood to be the cause of the modes of thinking and extension, it is to be understood in terms of how God is explained and how we can infer from the existence of a finite mode, the infinite being of God itself: “All modes of thinking have God for a cause, insofar as he is a thinking thing, and not insofar as he is explained by another attribute (by IIP6).” This would constitute the way in which parallelism is at once an argument about the identity in the power of existing if we consider any attribute in relation to others, while also arguing for the mode by which we can come to understand ourselves, in relationship to others, and to substance.

Regarding the second consequence drawn from IIIP2, and while there is no metaphysical difference between thought and extension given their unity in substance and their equal expression of God’s infinite essence, there is an important distinction between the mind and the body insofar as Spinoza’s aim is to  refute false ideas concerning human freedom, and provide a systematic understanding of how human beings can moderate and restrain their affects, or how we can overcome our own bondage. We can see the importance of this ethical distinction by considering first our experience of the world, and then by the affects which determine our actions as they relate to human beings. In the scholium of IVP1, which states that “Nothing positive which a false idea has is removed by the presence of the true insofar as it is true,” Spinoza provides us with an example of how the knowledge of the relationship between our body and the sun is at once affected by the immediate sensual experience of the sun, and the way in which this experience is tempered, and therefore conceived properly, in terms of true ideas. As Spinoza writes,

“For example, when we look at the sun, we imagine it to be about two hundred feet away from us. In this we are deceived so long as we are ignorant of its true distance; but when its distance is known, the error is removed, not the imagination, that is, the idea of the sun, which explains its nature only so far as the body is affected by it. And so, although we come to know the true distance, we shall nevertheless imagine it as near us.”


With the example of our body’s relationship to the sun, we can see that what is altered in this experience is not the presence of the sun itself (which is not removed once we have a true idea). Rather, what is altered is our understanding of that which remains present to us. Therefore, our true ideas regarding the sun afford us the capacity to act in such a way that is in accordance with this idea. With true ideas we say that while the sun remains present and seems as if it is two hundred feet away, we also know that the sun is much further away regardless of the way in which it affects our body. By this example, then, Spinoza provides a first glimpse into how it is that true ideas, and the second kind of knowledge, allows us to temper and restrain the affects which determine our actions.

In the case of relations between human beings and inadequate and adequate ideas, Spinoza writes that, “Man’s lack of power to moderate and restrain the affects I call bondage. For the man who is subject to affects is under the control, not of himself, but of fortune, in whose power he so greatly is that often, though he sees the better for himself, he is still forced to follow the worse.”

Therefore, if Spinoza seeks to provide his readers with a framework by which one can restrain their affects, it is necessary for him to develop a way to distinguish the affects of the mind from the affects of the body; the failure of which, becomes the image of the saddened individual in Parts III and IV, who only has confused and mutilated ideas about themselves and Nature.

By taking human bondage as the problem he set out to solve, we can see Spinoza’s extension of the arguments in IIP7 and IIIP2 and their ethical importance in the demonstration of IVP7:

“An affect, insofar as it is related to the mind, is an idea by which the mind affirms of its body a greater or lesser force of existing than before (by the general Definition of the Affects [II/203/29-22]). When, therefore, the mind is troubled by some affect, the body is at the same time affected with an affection by which its power of acting is increased or diminished. Next, this affection of the body (by P5) receives from its cause its force for persevering in its being, which, therefore, can neither be restrained nor removed, except by a corporeal cause (by IIP6) which affects the body with an affection opposite to it (IIIP5), and stronger than it (by A1).”


Thus, if it is important to understand what affects are limiting and restraining our persevering in our striving and in what way, the distinction between the mind and the body becomes Spinoza’s own method of diagnosing what is truly good and truly evil for human existence. The failure to make this distinction is seen in the scholium of IIIP2:

“…human affairs, of course, would be conducted far more happily if it were equally in man’s power to be silent and to speak. But experience teaches all too plainly that men have nothing less in their power than their tongue, and can do nothing less than moderate their appetites. That is why most men believe that we do freely only those things we have a weak inclination toward…but that we do not at all do freely those things we seek by a strong affect, which cannot be calmed by the memory of another thing.”


Or again, as Spinoza returns to this very problem later in Part III when he writes:

“A thing we imagine to be free must be perceived through itself, without others (by ID7). So if we imagine it to be the cause of joy or sadness, we shall thereby love or hate it (by P13S), and shall do so with the greatest love or hate that can arise from the given affect (by P48). But if we should imagine as necessary the thing which is the cause of this affect, then (by the same ID7) we shall imagine it to be the cause of the affect, not alone, but with others. And so (by P48) our love or hate toward it will be less, q.e.d.”

Thus, we fail to temper and restrain our affects insofar as we believe our affections to be free; that is, insofar as we perceive our affects through themselves alone, which Spinoza has already shown to be proper to the first kind of knowledge. Additionally, the importance of the ethical distinction for moderating the affects is equally due to the fact that one must understand whether their affects relate primarily to the powers of the mind (understanding and reason) or the powers of the body (reasons of speed and slowness). The reason being that, in the same way that we do not have a free determination of the movement and rest of our own body, we do not have a free decision in terms of the mind: “we can do nothing from a decision of the mind unless we recollect it. For example, we cannot speak a word unless we recollect it. And it is not in the free power of the mind to either recollect a thing or forget it.” This is to say, regarding the powers of the mind and its striving toward understanding, it can be hindered by an affect whether past or present. As Spinoza reiterates in IVP6, “The force of any passion, or affect, can surpass the other actions, or power, of a man, so that the affect stubbornly clings to the man.” Thus, in order to moderate our affects, it is insufficient to simply understand the relationship between our persevering in relation to other bodies. It is equally necessary to understand those affects which restrain and diminish our power of understanding.

When Spinoza writes that it is “Because men believe themselves free, these affects are very violent,” it is for the reason of men having confused and inadequate ideas, and failing to understand the ethical (and not metaphysical) distinction between the mind and the body that affects are made violent. Moreover, the epistemological implications for the example of the individual who fails to make this ethical distinction is the individual who exists at the level of the first kind of knowledge, since they base their actions and thoughts on confused and inadequate ideas. It is from the first kind of knowledge that men believe themselves free since they are merely conscious of their actions precisely because this belief rests on a knowledge of effects alone, divorced from their causes.

Additionally, our actions which arise from this first kind of knowledge are not vicious because they refer primarily to our selves more than to others, since the nature of ideas is such that, “the ideas which we have of external bodies indicate the condition of our own body more than the nature of the external bodies.” Rather, the problem Spinoza sees in the relationship between the first kind of knowledge and acting from certain affects is meant to underscore the fact that we would attempt to seek out what is most useful for ourselves solely on the basis of a distorted and confused understanding of what it would mean to ‘seek one’s own advantage’ in the first place. As Spinoza writes,

“This sadness, accompanied by the idea of our own weakness is called humility. But joy from considering ourselves, is called self-love or self-esteem. And since this is renewed as often as a man considers his virtues, or his power of acting, it also happens that everyone is anxious to tell his own deeds, and show off his powers, both of body and of mind and that men, for this reason, are troublesome to one another. From this it follows, again, that men are by nature envious (see P24S and P32S), or are glad of their equals’ weakness and saddened by their equals’ virtue […] But if he relates what he affirms of himself to the universal idea of man or animal, he will not be so greatly gladdened. And on the other hand, if he imagines that his own actions are weaker, compared to others’ actions, he will be saddened (by P28), and will strive to put aside this sadness, either by wrongly interpreting his equals’ actions or by magnifying his own as much as he can. It is clear, therefore, that men are naturally inclined to hate and envy.”

Thus, it is by way of clear and distinct ideas regarding what affects our striving that we move from the first to the second kind of knowledge. As seen above, Spinoza envisions the man of the first kind of knowledge as a man of envy, sadness, hate, and so on, while the man of the second kind of knowledge has the ability to temper these affects by way of the universal idea of man. Or as Spinoza writes regarding the relationship between the striving of the mind and adequate and inadequate ideas:

“The essence of the mind is constituted by adequate and by inadequate ideas (as we have shown in P3). So (by P7) it strives to persevere in its being both insofar as it has inadequate ideas and insofar as it has adequate ideas; and it does this (by P8) for an indefinite duration. But since the mind (by IIP23) is necessarily conscious of itself through ideas of the body’s affections, the mind (by P7) is conscious of its striving, q.e.d.”

Thus, we strive to persevere in our being regardless of the kinds of knowledge we have. Moreover, and insofar as we have inadequate ideas regarding the unity of the mind and the body, and insofar as we think of the mind as determining the body, we will not be able to understand which affects afflict the mind and restrain its power of understanding, just as we will not be able to understand what affections of the body restrain its power of acting. For this reason Spinoza writes, “An affect cannot be restrained or taken away except by an affect opposite to, and stronger than, the affect to be restrained.”

In the last instance, the question of the ethical distinction between the mind and the body rests on this primary concern: what are the affects which determine my striving to persevere in my being? Do they aid or restrain my striving? Are they joyous or saddening? And do they aid or restrain my power of movement and rest, or my power of understanding and use of reason? By making the ethical distinction, Spinoza allows us to understand ourselves, and our relation to others, in light of these nuances regarding the affects. If we have seen that it is our striving in accordance with the first kind of knowledge which gives rise to sad affects and constitutes human bondage, it is by way of the second kind of knowledge which gives rise to an association of human beings which is beneficial for all. As Spinoza writes, “Men still find from experience that by helping one another they can provide themselves much more easily with the things they require, and that only by joining forces can they avoid the dangers which threaten on all sides.” It is by understanding what is common to all men, by way of the common notion of Man, that we come to see how human beings agree in certain and determinate ways. Therefore, while we strive to persevere in our being, it is our striving in accordance with this second kind of knowledge (reason) that we strive in such a way that not only benefits ourselves but others as well. This common notion of Man, in light of the second knowledge, understands our striving as the same striving as other human beings insofar as they are understood as modifications of thought and extension, both which express God’s essence. This would be the meaning of Spinoza’s statement that “man is a God to man,” which is made possible by the ethical difference of the powers of the mind and the powers of the body, each which constitute our striving in the world.

III. Parallelism As Ethical Distinction

The examples of the sad individual populates Spinoza’s Ethics: the madman, the chatterbox, the drunk, the child, those who believe Nature’s telos is man, those who rely on the sadness of others for the exercise of their own power, the envious person who takes pleasure in another’s lack of power, and so on. What unites all these individuals is the idea that they believe themselves free because they are conscious of their actions and ignorant of the causes which determine them. As I have been arguing, the arguments found in IIP7 and IIIP2, do not serve the the purpose for a proof regarding a non-interaction between the mind and the body. Spinoza’s arguments regarding his supposed “parallelism” do not set out to show how the mind and the body are unrelated, or separated. Nor do his arguments provide a deepening of any supposed mind-body dualism. Rather, the thesis regarded as “parallelism” in Spinoza’s work ought to be understood in its ethical valence.

First, in terms of their metaphysical meaning as understanding God as the cause of the attributes of thought and extension. Second, in terms of their epistemological meaning as understanding the powers of the mind and the powers of the body as united in each individual and constitutive of their power of striving. Third, in terms of their ethical implications insofar as it is necessary to understand what aids and restrains our understanding of the necessary and essential causal relations. Thus, in Spinoza’s vision of ethical life, the ethical distinction between mind and body serves as a diagnostic in order for us to strive in accordance with reason. It is for these reasons that Spinoza cannot be said to posit a parallel relation between the mind and the body, and must be understood to pose this as an ethical distinction, since the Ethics is a work which sets as its task an understanding of human freedom in relation to all the causes which exert their power over ourselves and others. On this point Spinoza’s word puts it best:

“My account of the matter, the view I have arrived at, is this: no deity, nor anyone else, unless he is envious, takes pleasure in my lack of power and my misfortune; nor does he ascribe to virtue our tears, sighs, fear, and other things of that kind, which are signs of a weak mind. On the contrary, the greater the joy with which we are affected, the greater the perfection to which we pass, that is, the more we must participate in divine nature.”



‘Ethical Difference’: Spinoza and Deleuze (Part I)

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Two ideas motivate this inquiry into Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza. First, how does Deleuze envision the parallelism attributed to Spinoza as an ethical concept, as opposed to an ontological one? Second, how does this lead to Deleuze’s remarks regarding ethical difference in Spinoza’s Ethics? It is these two questions that are involved in this claim: “There is in Nature neither Good nor Evil, there is no moral opposition, but there is an ethical difference.” (Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, 261). What follows will be a close reading/overview of Spinoza on his own terms, with follow up posts regarding the intersections between Deleuze and Spinoza.

The Subject Of Parallelism

When approaching the claim that Spinoza argues for an understanding of mind-body dualism, conceived through parallelism, it is important to highlight to whom exactly this idea of parallelism pertains. If the parallelism of IIP7 pertains to human beings themselves, then we would be correct to claim that Spinoza, in fact, retains a form of mind-body dualism. If parallelism does not pertain to human beings themselves, then we must find in Spinoza’s text another subject to whom this idea would pertain, and the reasons why parallelism does not pertain to human existence. If we consider the propositions leading up to IIP7, we can begin to clarify our inquiry. Beginning from IIP1 up to IIP6 Spinoza does not mention, even once, the idea of human existence; nor is it the case that Spinoza’s main concern in these propositions is providing arguments for the nature of modal existence as such. Contrary to this reading, Spinoza’s prime concern in these pages is still with the nature of God and its expression through its infinite number of attributes.

Propositions 1 and 2 deal with the attributes of thought and extension, respectively. Moreover, Spinoza’s demonstrations and scholiums in these propositions make reference to God as the being in question. Regarding IIP1, Spinoza writes: “Singular thoughts, or this or that thought, are modes which express God’s nature in a certain and determinate way (by IP25C). Therefore (by ID5) there belongs to God an attribute whose concept all singular thoughts involve, and through which they are also conceived.” Regarding IIP2, the demonstration “proceeds in the same way as that of the preceding proposition.” From these two propositions, Spinoza argues IIP3 from the context of understanding God as an absolutely infinite being with an infinite power of thought: “In God there is necessarily an idea, both of his essence and of everything which necessarily follows from his essence.” That is to say, if God is an absolute being with an absolute power of thinking and existing and has attributes which express this infinite essence, then God has an infinite power of thinking from which an infinite number of things necessarily follow. Moreover, if it is the case that in God there is “necessarily an idea” both of his essence and existence and everything necessarily follows from this initial claim, it is clear that in God there is necessarily an idea (God’s own idea) for everything that follows from God’s essence. That is to say, if God’s intellect is truly infinite and necessary, then for every idea in God there is by necessity a thing which corresponds to this idea. This last point can be seen in IIP4 and VP22, respectively: “God’s idea, from which infinitely many things follow in infinitely many modes, must be unique;” “Nevertheless, in God there is necessarily an idea that expresses the essence of this or that human body, under a species of eternity.”

Following from what we have said thus far, and moving to IIP5 and IIP6, we see that Spinoza demonstrates his propositions, again, in terms of God. It is the case, both with the attribute of thought and the attribute of extension, that God is to be understood as the cause of each. Therefore, when we consider the attribute of thought itself; when we are seeking the “formal being of ideas;” we are not searching for the ways in which the modes of thought relate to the modes of extension. Rather, we are attempting to understand the relationship between the attribute of thought connected to its cause. Now, as stated in IA4 (“the knowledge of an effect depends on, and involves, the knowledge of its cause”), knowledge of the attributes of thought and extension rely upon connecting them with their cause, which is God, or Nature itself. Therefore Spinoza will write in his demonstration of IIP5, “the formal being of ideas admits God as its cause insofar as he is a thinking thing.” Regarding IIP6, Spinoza applies the same logic in the demonstration: “the modes of each attribute involve the concept of their own attribute, but not of another one, and so (by IA4) they have God for their cause only insofar as he is considered under the attribute of which they are modes, and not insofar as he is considered any other, q.e.d.”

Now we are in a better position to return to IIP7. As we have seen thus far, Spinoza has been arguing about the metaphysical relationship between substance and attributes and has not been dealing explicitly with anything that would lead to a consideration of these arguments in terms of mind-body dualism. However, another problem arises regarding this proposition. It would appear that Spinoza provides his readers with two forms of justification for IIP7: epistemological on the one hand, and metaphysical on the other. As he writes in the demonstration of IIP7: “For the idea of each thing caused depends on the knowledge of the cause of which it is the effect.” Here, we can see that Spinoza understands the order and connection of things and ideas as following the same logical structure as that of the knowledge of things, which depends on the knowledge of their cause. However, in the corollary, Spinoza offers a different justification: “From this it follows that God’s [NS: actual] power of thinking is equal to his actual power of acting. That is, whatever follows formally from God’s infinite nature follows objectively in God from his idea in the same order and with the same connection.” Thus it appears that Spinoza provides an epistemological and metaphysical justification for IIP7, which would tempt a reader to understand this proposition as pertaining to both modal existence (e.g., human beings) and God itself. However, these two justifications, which may seem to be at odds with one another rest on a shared idea running throughout Spinoza’s Ethics: the causal relations between God and the modes is not the same as the causal relations between the modes themselves.

However, the seeming contradiction between the epistemological and metaphysical justifications for IIP7 are done away with if we recall what was already made clear from IIP1 through IIP5; that is, for every idea in God there is necessarily a thing which corresponds to it. That is to say, the epistemological and metaphysical justifications Spinoza provides are related to God’s relation to itself. This relation of God to itself, as I am arguing is the case in Part II of the Ethics leading up to IIP7 means the following: God is the order and connection of things and ideas, because the subject in question regarding this order and connection is substance’s relation to itself, and not the a modes relationship with another, or multiple, modes. Thus, if God has an idea of itself which is identical to God’s expression of its essence, through the attribute of extension, it is because God’s essence involves the understanding of itself as first cause (causa sui). God as causa sui, then, isn’t merely the motor which drives Spinoza’s metaphysics; an axiom which serves as the explanation for how change occurs regarding modal existence. Rather, God as causa sui has a more profound role insofar as we understand God’s own knowledge of itself as meaning God’s own knowledge of itself as first cause.

Thus, if the knowledge of each thing depends on knowledge of its effect, God’s idea of itself always involves the understanding of God as cause of itself, and hence God’s own knowledge of itself, which expresses God’s infinite perfection and necessity. Moreover, the reason Spinoza argues for the relation of identity between ideas and things insofar as they pertain to God’s essence is by virtue of the fact that, in Spinoza’s system, there cannot be an attribute of God’s which is more powerful, or has more reality, than any other. Any claim which would seek to privilege one attribute (e.g., Thought) over another (e.g., Extension) would contradict the more fundamental claim that each attribute expresses God’s infinite essence and is therefore equivalent in reality, or its power of existing. At this point, and by way of summarizing what was just argued, it is instructive to recall Spinoza’s definition of God and attribute in light of my own reading of the argument laid out beginning with IIP1 up through IIP6. By God, Spinoza understands, “a being absolutely infinite, that is, a substance consisting of an infinity of attributes, of which each one expresses an eternal and infinite essence.” By attribute, Spinoza understands, “what the intellect perceives of a substance, as constituting its essence.”

With these definitions in mind and understanding the propositions leading up to IIP7 aa dealing with Gods relation to itself, it is now clear that insofar as we understand the intellect in this case to be God’s intellect (and not human intellect), God’s own idea involves the knowledge of itself as causa sui; where the knowledge of itself pertains to God’s understanding itself as the cause of the attributes and God’s expression through them. This would be the crucial point made in IIP7: the relation of identity between the attributes of thought and extension is consistent with Spinoza’s metaphysics because each attribute expresses God’s infinite and eternal essence, and has God as their cause. Moreover, the supposed “parallelism” between the attributes of thought and extension is misunderstood if it is taken to suggest any type of dualism operative in Spinoza’s work. As we have seen, God is the order and connection of ideas and things because substance is expressed through each attribute equally, or identically, and thus necessarily and infinitely.

Lastly, and by way of transition, we must take into account Spinoza’s own understanding of the difference between the substance and its modes (and specifically, the mode of human existence), if we are to understand how the notion of parallelism becomes important for thinking through Spinoza’s ethical theory. If it is the case that “parallelism” does not conclude in a mind-body dualism because it’s arguments pertain to the nature of substance, it is important to underscore the difference between the nature of substance and the nature of the human being if we are to avoid any further possible interpretations of a latent mind-body dualism in the Ethics.

To understand this difference, IIP10 provides us with a clear example and extension of IIP7, and how Spinoza differentiates substance and its modes. As he writes, “The being of substance does not pertain to the essence of man, or substance does not constitute the form of man.” In this proposition, Spinoza argues for a non-identical relation between the being, or essence, of substance and the “essence of man.” If both God and human beings shared the same essence – meaning the existence of two beings whose essence involves their existence as infinite and causa sui – then this would constitute two substances, which contradicts Part I of Spinoza’s Ethics. Spinoza has already shown the difference between the essence of God and the essence of human existence in Part I, and is as follows:

“For example, if twenty men exist in Nature…it will not be enough (i.e., to give a reason why twenty men exist) to show the cause of human nature in general; but it will be necessary in addition to show the cause why not more and not fewer than twenty exist. For (by III) there must necessarily be a cause why each [NS: particular man] exists. But this cause (by II and III) cannot be contained in human nature itself, since the true definition of man does not involve the number 20. So (by IV) the cause why these twenty men exist, and consequently, why each of them exists, must necessarily be outside each of them. For that reason it is to be inferred absolutely that whatever is of such a nature that there can be many individuals [of that nature] must, to exist, have an external cause to exist.”

Thus, the important difference between the “being of substance” and the “essence of man” is the difference between a) a being whose essence is infinite and indivisible, and a being whose essence is finite and divisible, and b) substance as causa sui and the cause of modal existence, and modal existence as a modification and effect of the attributes of substance. Therefore, the “being of substance” and the “essence of man” differ because the “essence of man” is dependent on, and involves, the “being of substance” as its cause, and therefore is not equivalent in its nature to substance, or God itself. As Spinoza writes regarding the essence of man, “it is something (by IP15) which is in God, and which can neither be nor be conceived without God, or (byIP25C) an affection, or mode, which expresses God’s nature in a certain and determinate way.”

Articulated in another way but equivalent in essence, we can say that the being of substance is freedom, while the essence of man is necessary and determined. As Spinoza writes, “That thing is called free which exists from the necessity of its nature alone, and is determined to act by itself alone. But a thing is called necessary, or rather compelled, which is determined by another to exist and to produce an effect in a certain and determinate manner.” Thus, IIP7 as it pertains to the being of substance reinforces, and is consistent with, Spinoza’s prior understanding of God as an infinite substance that is causa sui having an infinite number of attributes, where thought and extension are two attributes which constitute its essence and express, equally and therefore identically, the essence and power of substance itself. It is in this way that parallelism is a proposition on the equivalent powers expressed by each attribute, which have God as their cause, and not a proposition arguing for a mind-body dualism, whether in God or in human beings (since human beings, as modes, are expressions of God’s essence in a certain and determinate way).