Lance Byron Richey: Truth, Adequacy and Being In Spinoza's Ethics

Truth, Adequacy and Being in Spinoza's Ethics

Lance Byron Richey

Despite the enormous amount of ink that has been spilled in the last two generations concerning Spinoza's distinction between the truth and the adequacy of an idea, the scholarship on the subject is still, to say the least, inconclusive.  Although the distinction between the truth and the adequacy of an idea is central to Spinoza's epistemology, the little general agreement that is found among scholars tends to be insufficient for most readers to gain a “clear and distinct” understanding of what distinguishes true ideas from adequate ones.  The purpose of this paper is to make more clear Spinoza's distinction.  By an examination of the central texts from Spinoza which deal with the truth and the adequacy of ideas, as illuminated by some of the more important scholarship which has been done in this area during this century, I hope to cast some light on this important topic.

                My goals in this paper are relatively simple and limited.  In Section I, I provide a moderately detailed summary of Spinoza's views on true ideas and their connection to a correspondence theory of truth which runs throughout the Ethics.  In Section II, a similar review of Spinoza's theory of adequate ideas, and its connection with a coherence theory of truth which is also found in the Ethics, is attempted.  In Section III, I briefly explore the relationship between the truth and the adequacy of an idea, that is, Spinoza's epistemology and his ontology.  I argue that, for Spinoza, the coherence and correspondence theories of truth which run parallel throughout the Ethics are not competing truth theories, but are instead complementary.  More importantly, I argue that these concepts, indeed Spinoza's epistemology itself, are really the vestibule of his ontology, and that true and adequate ideas are finally subsumed into Substance, or Being, as mere characteristics of it.  Finally, a brief summary and review of this article will conclude the discussion.

Spinoza on Truth

Very early on in the Ethics, Spinoza offers a theory of truth, writing that, “A true idea must agree with that of which it is the idea” (E1Ax6)[1]  This concise formulation seems traditional and clear enough.  Unfortunately for students of Spinoza, it is neither.  Two problems arise from it.  The first is Spinoza's somewhat free use of the word ‘truth’ throughout his writings, often allowing it to cover both true and adequate ideas.  The second is Spinoza's untraditional interpretation of agreement in light of his rejection of substantial forms.  For now, I will attempt only to ascertain what Spinoza meant by a “true idea” in his mature thought, and allow earlier positions to go by the way.

                In the Ethics, Spinoza chooses to present this description of ‘true’ axiomatically, not definitively.  Some interpreters have taken this as evidence that, for him, axioms are functional descriptions, while definitions are exhaustive regarding the essence of what they describe.[2]  By presenting it axiomatically, Spinoza makes his meaning of ‘true’ rely not on its self-evidence, but on its place in his system.  He offers no justification for this usage of ‘true’, nor does he intend for this axiom to be taken as a definition of what it means for an idea to be “true.”  Garrett rejects Wolfson's thesis that Spinoza uses definitions, axioms and propositions interchangeably within his system.  Instead, he argues that Spinoza puts forward this description of a true idea axiomatically instead of definitively because, while it is not incorrect, “external agreement or correspondence does not fully capture the essence of truth.”[3] What Spinoza claims does capture the essence of truth will be taken up later.  In any case, Spinoza does use correspondence with its object as a necessary characteristic of true ideas throughout the Ethics.  He later writes that

All ideas are true in so far as they are in God.  Demonstration:  All ideas, which are in God, agree completely with the objects of which they are ideas, and so they are all true. (E2P32)[4]

Furthermore, he says that one has a true idea when one has “an idea which corresponds to that of which it is the idea.” (E2P43Schol)[5]

                It is not only in the Ethics that Spinoza puts forward correspondence with its object as a necessary characteristic of a true idea.  In the Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione, he says that a true idea is distinguished from a false one by, though not solely or chiefly by, “an extrinsic denomination,” that is, a correspondence with the external object of which the idea is an idea (TdIE II,26,15-20).[6]  And as late as 1675, Spinoza writes in a letter to Tschirnaus that “the word true refers to the agreement of an idea with its ideatum.” (Ep.60)[7]  It seems clear from his writings that Spinoza intended that ‘true’ refer, at least in most contexts, to an extrinsic quality of an idea, namely, the agreement of an idea with its object.  At times, he used the word more freely, and sloppily, but if pushed to the wall and asked what his meaning was in using the word ‘true’ in the Ethics, I believe Spinoza would make it correspondence.  Were this not the case, Spinoza would not have had need of the concept and elaborate terminology for ‘adequacy’ which occupies much of the Ethics.

                There is one important point for students of Spinoza's epistemology:  Spinoza seems to be running up against the limitations of his language in this matter, since truth has more than one specific philosophic sense.  It can be taken strictly as correspondence, as the medievals took it.  But truth in its vulgar usage carries a sense of reality or correctness which need not be limited to any one theory of truth (see any dictionary), as is clear from the many differing philosophical theories of truth (i.e., coherence, correspondence, performative, etc.).  This is the cause of Spinoza's occasionally free use of the word.  While Spinoza would certainly want to claim that his definition of adequacy is true in the sense of not being false, I am not so sure he would want the truth of that proposition to rest solely on a correspondence model.  Therefore, the reader is advised to keep in mind that ‘true’ taken by itself will be used to refer solely to some form of correspondence, while ‘true in the broader sense’ or similar phrases will be used to denote the popular meaning of ‘true’ as ‘not false’.[8]  While this rather vague usage may seem inappropriate, it allows us to avoid tedious digression and is justified, I believe.  As long as the reader keeps these distinctions in mind, no undue ambiguity should arise.

                It has been shown that Spinoza has a correspondence theory of truth circling the waters of his philosophy.  What of it?  We have already seen that Spinoza, while holding correspondence to be a necessary characteristic of truth, probably does not hold it to be the defining characteristic.  Nevertheless, nearly every commentator has seen the correspondence theory as a major component of Spinoza's thought.  Although most have found some difficulties in consistently applying it[9], I believe these difficulties point more to its insufficiency, which Spinoza was quite aware of, than to its falsity.  Perhaps the most important exception to this general consensus is found in Joachim:

It would seem, therefore, that it is strictly impossible for Spinoza to talk of an ‘agreement’ between idea and ideatum.  For, from one point of view, they are so completely one, that no relation between them is possible—their unity is in no sense a relational unity.  And, from another point of view, they are so absolutely two, that they cannot have any community of being whatsoever.[10]

Wolfson's medieval casting of Spinoza some thirty-odd years after Joachim, while outdated in some ways, is still correct in seeing in Spinoza a correspondence theory of truth as well as a coherence theory, and is correct in his subordination of the former to the latter in Spinoza's thought.[11]

                G. H. R. Parkinson, in his Spinoza's Theory of Knowledge, follows Wolfson in pointing out the medieval origins of Spinoza's criterion for truth, suggesting that Spinoza probably culled it from the (presumably Aristotelian) logic manuals of the day which he read and owned.[12]  Parkinson's valuable study of Spinoza's correspondence theory also provides a logical bridge to the next section of my article.  He argues that Spinoza's rejection of Aristotelian forms, which is the second problem mentioned above for the students of Spinoza's epistemology, also entails a reworking of scholastic correspondence theory.  He concludes that the Spinozistic correspondence of idea and ideatum is actually a relation of identity, since “this Corollary (to E2P7) says that whatever is in the attribute of extension is present, in the same order and with the same connexions, in the attribute of thought.”[13]

                This revision also reveals the progress made in Spinoza scholarship during the last few decades.  It is an important advance here that, while Joachim saw this relation of identity as precluding any correspondence, Parkinson views it as the basis for such a theory of truth, and builds a sizable and intellectually fruitful analysis upon it.

                And it is here that we begin to come nearer to Spinoza's main beliefs about truth.  We now have stepped away from a focus on correspondence, that is, on a one-to-one mapping between the attributes of thought and extension, and towards the intra-attribute connections of ideas.  Spinoza does not deny that this extrinsic correspondence is a necessary characteristic for the truth of an idea (in the broad sense), but I believe he would deny it sufficiency for making an idea true (in the broad sense).  This now leads us to consider whether truth abides, not in any trans-attribute relationship, but instead in the intra-attribute relations of any given idea.  This is what Spinoza refers to as an idea's “adequacy.”


                We are now starting to close in on Spinoza's main tenets concerning the essential characteristics of truth.  Garrett notes that Spinoza gives a definition of an adequate idea, instead of presenting it axiomatically, as he did with true ideas.[14]  Spinoza writes,

By an adequate idea I mean an idea which, insofar as it is considered in itself without relation to its object, has all the properties—that is, intrinsic characteristics—of a true idea.  Explication:  I say ‘intrinsic’ so as to exclude the extrinsic characteristic—to wit, the agreement of the idea that of which it is an idea.  (E2def4)[15]

Here, one could ask, if the necessary characteristic of a true idea is its extrinsic agreement with its ideatum, and Spinoza is excluding this from the properties true ideas share with adequate ideas, what else is left to be shared?  The obvious solution lies in seeing that extrinsic agreement with its object is not the only characteristic of a true idea.  A true idea also has its relationships with other ideas as well as with its objects.  The standard view among scholars concerning the nature of these relations is that ideas have logical relations, and objects have causal ones, a view which I see no need to challenge here.  And it is here, in the intra-attribute relationships of ideas, that Spinoza believes adequacy is to be found.

                Spinoza focuses more on adequacy than on truth (in the narrow sense) in the Ethics, which hints at the primacy over truth that he gave to adequacy.  In the propositions devoted to the knowledge the human mind has of its body and the affects of it, he gives almost exclusive emphasis to the adequacy of the idea in the mind, and very little to its truth.  Nevertheless, after his definition of adequacy, which Spinoza obviously considers “adequate” for the reader, he does not trouble to detail it further, instead going on to apply it to specific instances of ideas.  The next place to look for clarification, then, is the letter to Tschirnaus quoted partially above.  The full passage reads:

I recognize no other difference between a true and an adequate idea than that the word true refers to the agreement of an idea with its ideatum, while the word adequate refers to the nature of the idea itself.[16]

These are the two most explicit treatments of adequacy I can find in Spinoza's writings, and they are certainly the main ones upon which most of the important scholarship done recently has focused.

                Now we must explore this idea of adequacy which Spinoza has succinctly (and perhaps too succinctly) laid out for us.  Doing so will naturally lead us into a discussion of the coherence theory of truth which he apparently intended by his definition.  We should notice that Spinoza is not making extrinsic correspondence a necessary but insufficient ground for an idea to be adequate.  There is a radical distinction between the two terms, for

falsity consists in the privation of knowledge which inadequate ideas, that is, fragmentary and confused ideas, involve.  Proof:  There is nothing positive in ideas which constitute the form of falsity.  But falsity cannot consist in absolute privation (for minds, not bodies, are said to err and be deceived), nor again in absolute ignorance, for to be ignorant and to err are different.  Therefore it consists in that privation of knowledge which inadequate knowledge, that is, inadequate and confused ideas, involves.  (E2P35)[17]

This passage brings out two important points.  First, falsity is not limited to one particular aspect (i.e., the adequacy) of an idea.  One can say both of true and of adequate ideas that they are “not false,” and therefore that falsity is not to be seen as only opposed to the truth, but not to adequacy.[18]  This point becomes more prominent in the next section.  Secondly, the adequacy of an idea is not reliant upon any external relationship to an object, but solely upon the relationship of the idea to other ideas.  This gives us a model of the classic coherence theory of truth which, not surprisingly, finds its greatest acceptance among rationalist and idealist thinkers (with Hegel being perhaps the greatest exponent of it).

                There is a clear tension in both Spinoza and his commentators over the level of priority to be given this coherence theory of truth over the correspondence theory in his system.  Of the recent writers, perhaps Garrett feels most uncomfortable with radically devaluing the importance of correspondence in favor of coherence, that is, intrinsic denomination of truth.  But even he recognizes the ultimate superiority of coherence and believes that Spinoza “assumes . . . that there are internal characteristics (which grant truth to an idea) possessed by all and only those ideas that correspond to their objects.”[19]  And this internal characteristic is nothing else than the completeness of all necessary connections of the idea with other ideas, that is, the adequacy of the idea.

                What makes an idea inadequate, that is, false, is not its lack of correspondence with that of which it is the object, at least not primarily.  Rather, it is the idea's lack of proper connections with other ideas which are logically presupposed for the completeness of this idea. (E2P35)  As Parkinson writes,

A coherence theory of truth must not only say that any incomplete idea is false, but also that any false idea is incomplete.  And this is what Spinoza seems to maintain when he discusses the nature of falsity or error.[20]

This incompleteness is not a trans-attribute incompleteness, that is, a non-correspondence, but is instead an intra-attribute incompleteness.  However, correspondence sneaks in again through the back door.  Spinoza writes that “the order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things.” (E2P7)[21]  If this is so, then any adequate idea which contains all the ideas necessary for its completeness will necessarily correspond to its object due to the idea's adequacy.  For the object exists as it is due to its complete causal history, and the idea, if adequate, will contain the logical connections which parallel the causal connections of the object.

                We now begin to see the interdependence of correspondence and coherence theories of truth in Spinoza.  The sublime beauty of his system is not the dogmatic exclusion of one or the other as a criterion for truth, but rather their interweaving to form a new fabric of truth which transcends both.  Section III of this paper will be a brief look at the way in which Spinoza integrates the two.


                We have seen how Spinoza subordinates correspondence to coherence[22], and how he makes the two radically conceptually distinct, neither presupposing the other.  At the same time, they are more than simply parallel and coextensive.  Their relationship is eventually more intimate than simple co-extensivity and parallelism.  The truth and the adequacy of an idea eventually dovetail, and although neither conceptually presupposes the other for its self-sufficiency, their parallelism is necessary, not contingent, and can be demonstrated as such.

                Correspondence is subordinate to coherence as a standard of truth (in the broader sense), since Spinoza makes it clear that knowledge of correspondence is not required for certainty of the truth of an idea.  He writes,

if a true idea is distinguished from a false one only inasmuch as it is said to correspond with that of which it is an idea, then a true idea has no more reality or perfection than a false one (since they are distinguished only by an extrinsic characteristic).  (E2P43Schol)[23]

Clearly, for Spinoza the intrinsic characteristics of an idea are what characterize its truth for us.  But this use of adequacy as a signpost for truth in the broader sense should not be confused with a necessary and sufficient condition for truth.  When we have an adequate idea, we know that we have an adequate, that is, a true idea, not because of its adequacy, but simply because we have it.  Spinoza writes,

As to the last question, how can a man know that he has an idea which corresponds to that of which it is an idea, I have just shown, with abundant clarity, that this arises from the fact that he does have an idea that corresponds to that of which it is an idea; that is, truth is its own standard.  (E2P43Schol)[24]

Truth, it would seem, does not spring then from correspondence or from coherence, but rather from the self-evidence of an idea.  But even more importantly, our knowledge of the truth of an idea, the certainty we feel of the truth of an idea, does not spring from the correspondence we see between our idea and its object, or the idea's coherence, but rather from the self evident truthfulness of the idea we have.  As Mark puts it so nicely, “adequacy is not the criterion of truth, truth is the criterion of truth.”[25]

                This point should be examined more closely, as it lies at the very heart of my topic.  We have already seen clearly that adequacy is superior to correspondence in determining an idea's truth in the broad sense.  But now we have been told that not even adequacy is sufficient, as it is truth, and not adequacy, that is the criterion of truth.  There are difficulties at this point which must be resolved, and I believe Mark's article contains the seeds of the best solution of this question.

                Where is Spinoza headed with all his apparatus of truth, adequacy, and so forth? I want to argue that he is trying to move beyond mere epistemology and into an ontology of truth.  Spinoza wants to overcome Descartes by moving beyond the question, “What am I sure of?”, and into the question, “What is real and true?”.[26]  And when this question is asked, one is always asking, not about knowledge, but about being.  For Spinoza, truth and adequacy primarily perform an indexical role as necessary characteristics of true ideas of which we have knowledge, but that knowledge must always be of particular entities as expressed under the attribute of thought at one time, and extension at another.  Mark puts it thus:

To be sure, what one recognizes in a true idea is an instantiation of being or substance, which is to say that one recognizes the self-completeness that we have linked with adequacy.  Nevertheless, the recognition that our idea is true comes about not because adequacy is an indicator of truth, but because reality is self-complete and self-explanatory.[27]

As Mark says, not even adequacy is the essence of truth (that is, the characteristic which is a necessary and sufficient condition for believing an idea to be true), but instead truth is its own sign, needing no epistemic justification for its truth other than the fact of its truth.  Thus, we have moved beyond the sphere of epistemology, that is, the study of knowledge, and into the study of being, of what is.

                At last, we have seen the true importance and unity of adequacy and truth, not primarily in Spinoza's epistemology, but in his ontology.  Truth and adequacy run parallel and coextensively throughout Spinoza's epistemology, because there one finds a distinction between knower and known, between idea and ideatum.  But at the ontological level, the level of substance for Spinoza, such distinctions do not occur, as was demonstrated by him in Part I of the Ethics.

                As Mark says, reality is self-complete and self-explanatory.  Therefore, all true knowledge must be of reality, and if Spinoza was attempting anything in his system, it was to give a comprehensive schema of reality which could accommodate both thought and extension, as regards both their existence and their explanatory histories.  This is where correspondence and coherence theories of truth complement each other in Spinoza's thought.  The correspondence theory maps individuals of all attributes onto thought, including the attributes of thought itself, and thus provides for a coextensivity of thought and being, which has always been the goal of western philosophy.[28]  The coherence theory of truth provides for a complete inner consistency and integration of each attribute.  Usually coherence is thought of as relating to the attribute of thought, but only because the physical world makes much more manifest its complete inter-relatedness and self-containedness.  Nevertheless, for every event in the physical world, along with all the levels of relationship that event holds with other physical events, there is a corresponding idea, which exactly maps all the physical inter-relationships onto mental relationships.  Thus, Spinoza has accounted for the completeness of each attribute, as well as for their perfect parallelism, their perfect mapping of one onto the other.

                Truth, in the vulgar sense, in the broader sense which we have named without naming so often in this paper, is for Spinoza the totality of correspondence and coherence, as it contains all the intra-attribute and trans-attribute relationships there are.  In English, we have a much shorter way of expressing this:  reality.  Indeed,

If someone were to ask, “How can one be certain that the ideas one has are not merely true but also adequate?”, Spinoza would answer:  if one is asking for a criterion to determine the adequacy of ideas, which is separate from the idea in question, then there can be no other criteria to establish it except these ideas themselves.  They are adequate and true for the simple reason that, being ideas of thought objects correlated with the actual nature of things, they could not (logically) be false or inadequate...By ‘true idea’ here, Spinoza must mean an idea which is at once adequate and true.[29]

Note well here that truth has been made a necessary but insufficient condition for a true idea in the broader sense of the word.  It is now clear that for Spinoza, truth in the common sense lies not in the status of our knowledge as true or adequate, but in the status of being qua being.  Truth is nothing else than being, or substance, or God.  Thus he writes, “All ideas are true insofar at they are related to God.” (E2P32)[30]  Truth in the strongest sense comes, not from any relationship across or within attributes, but in the ground of those attributes, the concept of substance or God.  Truth finds its being in God, for Spinoza.  The truth and adequacy of an idea come from its being true (that is, real), and not the reverse, as some have argued.

                As a closing support for this view, I will offer the following syllogism, which the reader can take or leave; my argument does not hinge upon its validity, though it may be useful for illustration.  For Spinoza, false ideas contain nothing positive which causes their falsity. (E2P33)  Nothing can be or be conceived outside of God. (E2P15)  Therefore, the cause of all falsity in non-being, or non-existence.  All truth is therefore in God, or Substance. (E2P32)  And Spinoza says that “thinking substance and extended substance are one and the same substance, comprehended now under this attribute, now under that.” (E2P7Schol)[31]  Therefore, truth lies primarily in being, or substance, and only secondarily in the attribute of thought or in any correspondence between two attributes.  In understanding this, hopefully the reader more fully understands the distinction and relation between a true idea and an adequate idea, as well as their subsumption in truth per se.


                What conclusions should be drawn from this discussion? Spinoza has laid out a criterion for truth which foreshadows much of the talk about “being” that has gone on since Hegel.  A true idea, for Spinoza, is an idea which corresponds to the causal history of its object, although reference to this causal history is not required for recognition of the truth of this adequate idea.  But for Spinoza, there is a higher level of truth than simple correspondence, a level I will call “truth per se.”  Truth per se is the substance underlying every attribute, and containing in it the entity which finds parallel expression throughout all attributes, and complete expression throughout each.  Of course, although strictly speaking there is only one entity, God, particular “moments” of God (i.e., individual objects or ideas) can still be true per se granted they contain adequate notions of the preceding moments, which in the attribute of extension are causes, and in the attribute of thought are ideas.  This results in the belief among so many commentators that there is really only one true, adequate idea:  the idea of God.  While plausible, this belief need not be true for the thesis to stand that truth per se is the subsumption of truth and adequacy into substance.  As such, the primacy of ontology over epistemology in Spinoza's philosophy is made clear.[32]




Marquette University

Milwaukee, WI


[1] “Idea vera debet cum suo ideato convenire.”  All latin quotes are from Benedict Spinoza, Opera Omnia, (C. Gebhart ed.; Heidelberg:  Carl Winters Verlag, 1925).


[2] Don Garrett, “Truth, Method and Correspondence in Spinoza and Leibniz,” Studia Spinozana 6 (1990), 13-44, p. 18.


[3] Ibid., p. 18.


[4] “Omnes ideae, quatenus ad Deum referuntur, verae sunt.  Demonstratio:  Omnes enim ideae, quae in Deo sunt, sum suis (Objectis et) ideatis omnino conveniunt, adeoque verae sunt.”


[5] “idea vera, quatenus tantum dicitur cum suo ideato convenire.”


[6] “denominationem extrinsicam.”


[7] “inter ideam veram et adequatum nullam aliam differentia—jam agnosco, quam quod nomen veri respiciat tantummodo convenientiam ideae cum suo ideato.”


[8] For an extended discussion of this topic, see Thomas C. Mark, “Truth and Adequacy of Spinozistic Ideas,” Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 8 (1977), 57-70.


[9] Edwin Curley, The Collected Works of Spinoza, (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1985), p. 31 (footnote).


[10] Harold Joachim, A Study in the Ethics of Spinoza, (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1901),  p. 148.


[11] H.A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of Spinoza, 2 vols.  (Cambridge, Massachusetts:  Harvard University Press, 1934), pp. 98-101.


[12] G.H.R. Parkinson, Spinoza's Theory of Knowledge, (Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 112.


[13] Ibid., p. 113.


[14] Garrett, p. 18.


[15] “Per ideam adaequatam intelligo ideam, quae, quatenus in se sine relatione ad objectum consideratur, omnes verae idea proprietates, sive demonimationes intrinsecas habet.  Explicatio.  Dico intrinsecas, ut illam secludam, quae extrinseca est, nempe convenientiam ideae cum suo ideato.”


[16] “Inter ideam veram et adaequatam nullam aliam differentiam agnosco, quam quod nomen veri respiciat tantummodo convenientiam ideae cum suo ideato; nomen adaequati autem naturam idea in se ipsa.”


[17] “Falsitas consistit in cognitionis privatione, quam ideae inaedequatae, sive mutilatae, et confusae involvunt.  Demonstratio.  Nihil in ideis positivum datur, quod falsitas in absoluta privatione consistere nequit (Mentes enim, no corpora errare, nec falli dicuntur), neque etiam in absoluta ignorantia; diversa enim sunt, ignorare, et errare; quare in cognitionis privatione, quam rerum inadaequata cognitio, sive ideae inadaequata, et confusae involvunt, consistit.”


[18] Mark, pp. 24-25.


[19] Garrett, p. 32.


[20] Parkinson, p. 120.


[21] “Ordo, et connexio idearum idem est, ac ordo, et connexio rerum.”


[22] Parkinson, p. 114.


[23] “si idea vera, quatenus tantum dicitur cum suo ideato convenire, a falsa distinguitur, nihil ergo realitatis, aut perfectionis idea vera habet prae falsa (quandoquidem per solam denominationem extrinsecam interna denominatio).”


[24] “Quod denique ultimum attinet, nempe, undenam homo scire potest se habere ideam, quae cum suo ideato conveniat, id modo satis superque ostendi ex hoc solo oriri, quod ideam habet, quae cum suo ideato convenit, sive quod veritas sui sit norma.”


[25] Mark, p. 26.  I am not completely convinced, as some are, that Mark is at variance with Curley and others on this point, although I would not assert their agreement with certainty.


[26] This question might also be phrased as, “I know that I have a clear and distinct idea, but what I really want to know is whether or not it is true.”  The obvious slap in Descartes' face would surely have been made more subtle by Spinoza, though.


[27] Mark, p. 26.


[28] The coextensivity of the attribute of thought with all other attributes, a necessary feature of this system, is not itself without problems, and the reader should keep this in mind.


[29] S. Paul Kashap, “Spinoza's Use of ‘Idea’,” Southwestern Journal of Philosophy 8 (1977), 57-70, p. 69.


[30] “Omnes ideae, quatenus ad Deum referuntur, verae sunt.”


[31] “. . . consequenter quod substantia cogitans, et substantia extensa una, eademque est substantia, quae jam sub hoc, jam sub illo attributo comprehenditur.”


[32] I wish to express special thanks to Lee Rice for his generous help at every stage of this paper.