Spinoza on essence constitution

Antonio Salgado Borge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


I argue that, against what is commonly believed, Spinoza’s use of the relation of constitution to characterize the relation between attributes and the essence of a substance does not indicate that, for him, there must be a numerical identity between each attribute and the essence constituted by that attribute. To do this, I follow a twofold strategy. First, I contend that the claim that because in Spinoza’s time constitution was understood as a one- to-one relation is mistaken: the main logicians of Spinoza’s time, all Cartesian philosophers, believe that the constitution of an essence can be a many-to-one relation. I show that Spinoza can both accept that constitution is a many-one relation and share Descartes’ understanding of this relation. Second, I defend the claim that Spinoza’s use of constitution in the Ethics is consistent with these logicians’ account of constitution. In particular, I focus on Spinoza’s inclusion of the intellect in the definition of attribute and his definition of God.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987–999
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Spinoza
  • Substance
  • Constitution
  • Attributes
  • Essence


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