Spinoza on the distinction between substance and attribute

Antonio Salgado Borge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


I examine Spinoza's claim in the Metaphysical Thoughts (CM) that the attributes of God are only distinguished by a distinction of reason. I contend that for Spinoza essential attributes, such as Thought or Extension, cannot be distinguished by Francisco Suárez's distinction of reasoning reason, as Martin Lin (2019) suggests, nor can he be using Suárez’ distinction of reasoned reason for this purpose, as Yitzhak Melamed (2017) believes. Since reasoning reason and the distinction of reasoned reason are the only two kinds of rational distinction available to Spinoza, it follows that for him the distinction between God's essential attributes in the CM cannot be a distinction of reason. But I show that Spinoza is not mistakenly using Suárez's distinction in the CM. Rather, I argue, Spinoza consistently follows Suárez and uses reasoned reason to distinguish between God's necessary properties and not between God's essential attributes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207 - 231
Number of pages25
Issue number2
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


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