THE INFINITE MODE OF MOTION AND REST LET me first remind you of the main out- lines of Spinoza's metaphysical doctrine. Spinoza is a pantheist, not in the superficial sense that God is a spirit which pervades all things, but in the truer sense that all things are in God and are modifications of him. There is and can be but one being which is entirely self-dependent, needing no other being for its explanation ; this being is Substance or God or Nature : it is the universe as a whole, not as an aggregate of things, not even as a whole of parts in the sense in which you and I who are organic are wholes of parts without being mere aggregates, but as a unitary being from which all its so-called parts draw their nature and in the end their existence. In themselves these parts, or as Spinoza calls them, modes, have no being except in God. Only our fancy, as I have noted, assigns them in what he calls the common order of 25 26 SPINOZA AND TIME nature a fictitious independence. God is the unity of all his modes conceived in their interrelation with one another and in their eternal, that is, ultimate and timeless, effluence from himself ; and Spinoza tries steadily to think of God as the positive comprehension of all things, though, as his commentators have pointed out, he sometimes falls into the mystical conception which defines God by the negation of all positive predicates. For him the finite is the negation of the infinite, and not the infinite the negation of the finite, however much he may drop into the other way of thought. In truth, for Spinoza and Descartes and the men of their day the infinite was conceived positively as prior to the finite, as it is in modern mathe- matics, and in fact it is only by negativing the infinitude of God that we can arrive at the notion of quantity at all. To apply the idea of quantity to God were to make him not infinite but indefinitely large. Most of our modern difficulties have arisen from trying to reconcile the notion of infinity with that of quantity, and the reconciliation has been accomplished in present mathematics. Now, Substance or God presents itself to intellect, not to our intellect alone, but to SPINOZA AND TIME 27 intellect of every sort, under the form of attributes. They are not constructions of the intellect nor forms of it in the Kantian sense, but what intellect discovers in the Substance, so that so far there is in Spinoza no suggestion of idealism. God as infinite possesses infinite such attributes or aspects, but only two of these are discoverable to the* human intellect, namely Extension and Thought. How we are to understand the infinite other attributes is a longstanding puzzle in the interpretation of Spinoza to which I shall advert later. These attributes reveal the whole of God's nature or essence ; and the great forward step which Spinoza took in philosophy consisted in this doctrine. For it follows that since God is perceived completely either as Extension or as Thought or Thinking, Extension and Thought are not two different realities, but two forms of one and the same reality. It follows further that since modes are modifications of God, each of them is alike extended and a thought. Hence in the first place our thoughts and our bodies are not two different things, but the same mode of God under two different attributes. This is the way Spinoza would answer the question whether brain-processes and their correspond- ing thought-processes accompany each other or act upon each other. For him they are the same thing twice over ; there is neither correspondence nor interaction between them, but identity of essence. This he expresses by saying that an idea or thought is the idea of a certain condition of the body, which varies with the object which provokes this bodily condition. I only wish there were room for me within the limits of my subject to develop his famous proposition which really follows from this conception, that the idea which I have of the table informs me rather of the state of my body than of the table, or in other words the table reveals itself to me in so far as it induces in me a certain process of body (we should say of the brain) which is identical with what we call the thought of the table. Next it is a consequence of the truth that every mode exists under both attributes that not only our self but every extended mode is also a thinking one, and that all things are * in a manner animated.' The importance of this we shall see later on. So much is simple and clear. But now I have to turn to one of the most difficult and at the same time most fascinating parts of the doctrine. Between God as perceived under the attribute of extension and the finite extended modes which are singular bodies there intervene infinite modes which as it were break the fall from Heaven to earth. Spinoza touches them only lightly, enough for his immediate purpose of explaining the con- stitution of our bodies, yet it is about these that what I have to say centres. The ' im- mediate ' infinite mode of extension Spinoza calls motion and rest. The first step in breaking up the unity of God's infinite extension into multi- plicity (a multiplicity still retained within the unity) is its manifestation as motion and rest. The next step is the ' mediate ' infinite mode, in which God's extension is the whole system of bodies as reduced to terms of motion and rest ; and the finite modes or singular things are but the parts of this ' face of the whole universe,' when those parts are considered, as they must be for science, in their rela- tion to the whole — as varying modifications of motion and rest. These are the gradations in the specification of God as extended. The corresponding gradations between God as a thinking being and finite thinking things or thoughts are harder to identify, and I need not refer to them further. 30 SPINOZA AND TIME These immediate and mediate infinite modes of motion and rest take us back to the doctrine of Descartes in the second part of his Principles. Spinoza takes it as axiomatic, speaking first of uncompounded bodies, that they are all either in motion or at rest, and move either more quickly or more slowly. Rest seems to be regarded as something positive, not the mere absence of motion, and a slower motion is as it were the blending of motion with rest, much as Goethe later regarded colour as a blending of light and darkness. Des- cartes apparently, perhaps only apparently, has the same notion. Compound bodies, what we ordinarily call bodies, are constituted of these simple bodies impinging on one another and communicating their motions in a certain proportion. Such an individual body remains the same when the proportion of its compo- nent motions is undisturbed, and the whole " moves altogether if it moves at all," and hence, though affected by other bodies in many ways, it may retain its own nature. The individual changes if this proportion is dis- turbed. The dissolution of our body at death is a case in point, occurring in a very composite body composed of many individual bodies which are its parts. IV THE TRANSITION FROM EXTENSION TO THIS MODE THE details do not concern us so much. After all, vague as it is, the picture is but the familiar one that in the end bodies are complexes of motions. I would fain linger on its consequences for the theory of science. Motion and rest being the common characters of bodies, their laws are the ultimate and simplest conceptions for science, which Spinoza contrasts with such vague and confused con- ceptions as being, thing, something, which he calls transcendental terms. Motion and rest would be the true universals, in contrast with what are vaguely called universals, such as man, tree, etc. But I must not be tempted away from my immediate topic. For us the question is by what right Spinoza can pass from God's attribute of extension to the infinite mode of motion and rest. That he deliberately faced the problem is clear from his attitude towards Descartes. Bodies for 32 SPINOZA AND TIME Spinoza are intrinsically complexes of motion and rest. For Descartes body was nothing but extension, figure, size, in three dimensions. Extension without body, that is empty space, was nothing. An empty space between two bodies or in the pores of a body meant only the presence of some other body ; hence, in the famous illustration, if a vessel could be completely emptied of body, the sides of the vessel would be in contact. Motion, according to Descartes, was a mode or state of body, and it was imparted to body by God. Spinoza protests in explicit terms in two letters to his friend Tschirnhaus against the Cartesian view and denies that the variety of the universe can be deduced a priori from extension alone. Descartes' view that motion is imparted by God is in fact a confession that body in motion is not mere extension, if extension is conceived as by Descartes as created, not as by Spinoza as being an attribute of God. Matter, says Spinoza, must neces- sarily be explained through an attribute which expresses eternal and infinite essence. This attribute he found in Extension, which he conceived to manifest itself immediately as we have seen in the infinite mode of motion and rest. SPINOZA AND TIME 33 Spinoza is thus aware of the problem ; and it is a great advance upon Descartes to see that body or matter is intrinsically motion and rest, and not bare extension into which motion is introduced by the creative act of God. But has Spinoza solved the problem ? The answer must be, I think, that he has failed because he has omitted Time. It seems to him indeed that matter is motion because extension expresses God's essence, or as Mr. Joachim puts it, expresses God's omnipotence. Substance, this admirable inter- preter urges, is not lifeless, but alive, and doubtless this was at the bottom of Spinoza's mind. But life and omnipotence are undefined ideas, transferred from our experience to describe metaphorically the being of God which is held to be behind and beyond the things of experience. Life implies change and so does omnipotence ; and change implies time. Yet Time is excluded from the eternal nature of God, who comprehends Time indeed, but only, to use a paradoxical phrase, in its timelessness. If, therefore, motion is to be the infinite mode of God's extension, it must be because Time has been slipped into Extension out of the undefined activity of God. We might be 3 34 SPINOZA AND TIME tempted to say that extension includes not only extension in space but duration in time. This would make extension a double-faced attribute. It would solve Spinoza's problem, but there is no word of it in Spinoza and could not be. On the contrary, such a supposition would make existence of which Time is the general character an attribute of God, which for Spinoza it is not. God's essence and his existence are, he says, one and the same thing. The truth appears to be that Spinoza could pass so easily from extension to motion because motion was conceived as it were statically. Nothing seems so obvious to us as the proposition that motion takes time and is unintelligible without it. But Descartes certainly, and it would seem Spinoza as well, conceives motion as change of place. Motion Descartes describes as ' the trans- ference of a part of matter or body from the neighbourhood of those which are touching it immediately and which we consider as at rest to the neighbourhood of some other bodies.' This conception of motion makes it something geometrical instead of physical. Consistently with this conception Descartes could think of motion only as an impulse given to matter from God. Spinoza's insight SPINOZA AND TIME 35 was a deeper one. Extension being an attri- bute of God reflected the activity of God's nature, and therefore the modes of extension were intrinsically motion, to correspond with the activity of God. He did not see that this implied Time also as an attribute. The activity of God could not translate itself into motion, when motion was conceived as more than a change of place, except God's activity was expressed by Time. In other words, if motion and rest is the infinite mode of extension, that extension must be not Space but Space- Time. By insisting that bodies are intrinsically complexes of motion, Spinoza, though he has rather stated the problem than solved it, has put us upon the way of solution. 1 1 I have omitted to notice minor difficulties in Spinoza's doctrine of motion and rest, such as the question how simple bodies come to have variety of motion. (See Camerer, Die Lehre Spinozas, 1877, p. 61 ff.) For an admirable account of the difficulties of Descartes' treatment of motion, see N. Kemp Smith, Studies in the Cartesian Philosophy, London, 1902, pp. 75 ff. TIME AS AN ATTRIBUTE OF GOD: CONSEQUENCES OF THIS HYPOTHESIS LET us ask then what changes are produced in Spinoza's doctrine if we regard Time itself as an attribute of the ultimate reality. In what remains I propose to offer these con- sequences as a gloss upon Spinoza's teaching, remarking explicitly that they are a gloss and not a commentary. A commentary must be his- torically true, but for Spinoza it was impossible to think of Time as an attribute. Slight as the change may seem verbally, it leads to a remodelling of the whole. Yet unhistorical as the procedure is, I venture upon it before an Historical Society because the real greatness and spirit of a man may often be best appre- ciated by asking not what he said himself but what he may lead us to say. (i) In the first place the ultimate reality would be something which in one aspect, under one attribute, is Space, under another, Time. It would be Space-Time or Motion itself. 36 SPINOZA AND TIME 37 I dare not yet assume that Time in this conception replaces Thought as the second attribute which our intellect perceives. It might still be true that Thought is a third attribute. It will appear, however, presently that Thought is not an attribute at all, but is an empirical or finite mode. The ultimate reality or Space-Time ceases also to be Substance in Spinoza's sense, still less is it identifiable with God, which is for Spinoza the only substance. It is rather identical with the infinite immediate mode of motion and rest, or if we rid ourselves of the perplexing idea of rest as something positive, with the infinite mode of motion. It is still infinite and self-contained and the ground of all finite modes. But it is not so much the Substance of which things are modes as the stuff of which they are pieces, the material out of which they are made. It is comparable rather to the Space which in the Platonic Timcens is that which receives definite character through the ingression (I borrow the word from Mr. Whitehead) of the Forms or Ideas. The difference from Plato is that the material which thus receives form is in the Timaus purely spatial, and contains intrinsically no time. For Plato Time comes into being with 38 SPINOZA AND TIME the creation of things and is but the shadow of eternity. In our gloss upon Spinoza the ultimate reality is full of Time, not timeless but essentially alive with Time, and the theatre of incessant change. It is only time- less in the sense that taken as a whole it is not particularized to any one moment or duration, but comprehends them all. For Spinoza the ultimate reality was necessarily conceived as Substance, as the one self-dependent, self-contained or infinite, self- caused, being ; this distinguished it from the finite things which were its modes. The very difference and advance which he made upon Descartes was that created things, which for Descartes were in a secondary sense sub- stances, became for Spinoza mere modes of the one Substance. And at least it is clear that if the ultimate reality is described as Substance, finite things, which in the words of Locke " are but retainers to other parts of nature for that which they are most taken notice of by us," cannot be substances in the same sense. But in fact substance, causality and the like are categories applicable in the first instance to finite things, and only trans- ferred to infinite reality by a metaphor in which their meaning is changed ; and it has SPINOZA AND TIME 39 now become a commonplace since Kant to declare that the categories of finite things are not applicable to the ground of finite things. And when once Time is regarded as an attribute of ultimate reality, the contrast of the Spino- zistic Substance and its modes falls away. Reality is Space-Time or motion itself, infinite or self-contained and having nothing outside itself ; and the vital contrast is that of this infinite or a priori stuff of the Universe and the empirical things or substances which are parts or modes of it. For this reason I speak of the ultimate reality of motion not as substance but as stuff. Before passing to these empirical modes let me observe that the conception of Space- Time or Motion as the stuff of the Universe is not in all respects the same as that taken of it in the theory of relativity. That theory is a physical and not a metaphysical theory, and, properly, as a physical theory it begins with bodies. Space-Time for it is perhaps best described as an order or system of relations that subsists between bodies. Whether this is to be accepted as an ultimate statement for philosophy is just one of those matters to which I alluded at the beginning, on which discussion has yet to do its work. I may 40 SPINOZA AND TIME merely note in passing that one pronounced supporter of the relativity theory in this country maintains that when it is said that Space-Time is wrinkled or warped in the presence of matter this means that matter is the very wrinkle in Space-Time. From this to the proposition which I have taken as included in our gloss upon Spinoza, viz. that Space-Time is the stuff of which matter is made, is but a step. (2) I pass to the singular things which in their totality constitute the fades totius universi. As with Spinoza, they are modifica- tions of the ultimate reality which has now become Space-Time. But there is now no ditch to jump between the ultimate ground of things and things themselves ; for things are, as Spinoza himself would say, but com- plexes of motion and made of the stuff which the ultimate or a priori reality is. In this way the danger is avoided which besets Spinoza's doctrine, the danger that the modes or things should be engulfed in an ultimate being which purports to be the positive ground of its modes, but always is on the point of slipping into bare indefiniteness. This danger I have noted already, but it may be well to revert to it here by way of SPINOZA AND TIME 41 pointing out the source of the difficulty. The modes for Spinoza determine each other into existence within the modal system in a chain of causation. But they follow, con- sidered in the light of eternity, from the nature of Substance or God, who is their cause or ground. This causal issuing from God is, however, not the physical relation of cause and effect, but the geometrical one of ground and consequent. The modes follow from God as the properties of a triangle follow from the nature of the triangle. This being so, the ultimate Substance being the ground of the modes must be a positive reality which accounts for them, of which they are, in modern phrase, the appearance. But then, we have to urge, the modes are not properties of Substance, but are things. On the other hand, if we ask for the ground of these things which are modes, and are told that they follow from the ground, but that the characters which things possess in the common order of nature are the confused deliverances of our imagination, how can we conceive the ground otherwise than as some- thing or other, we know not what except that it is their ground ? The case is different if things are regarded as modes of the stuff 42 SPINOZA AND TIME which is Space-Time. Their relation to their ground is no longer that of the properties of a triangle to the triangle, but rather that of the two triangles which compose an oblong to the oblong. They are involved in the oblong ; and in like manner the valley and the mountain are both contained in that con- figuration of nature which we call a valley or a mountain, but the valley does not follow from the mountain geometrically in the sense in which the properties of the triangle follow from the triangle. But if the reality in its barest character is Space-Time, the face of the whole universe is the totality of all those configurations into which Space-Time falls through its inherent character of timefulness or restlessness. The stuff of reality is not stagnant, its soul's wings are never furled, and in virtue of this unceasing movement it strikes out fresh complexes of movements, created things. (3) This leads us directly to a third con- sequence. All things as in God are alike perfect ; they are what they are and can- not be other. Yet there are grades of per- fection amongst things, the one has more reality than another. On this subject, as I cannot express Spinoza's sense so well SPINOZA AND TIME 43 myself, I will transcribe a page from Mr. Joachim's book : T " God, as the necessary consequent of his own free causality, is Natura Naturata — an ordered system of modes following with coherent necessity from Natura Naturans. 1 But though all things follow with the same inevitable necessity from God's nature, they differ from one another in degree of perfection or reality ; and indeed the difference is one not only of degree but also of kind. ' For although a mouse and an angel, sadness and joy, depend equally on God, yet a mouse cannot be a species of angel, nor sadness a species of joy' (Ep. 23). 'The criminal expresses God's will in his own way, just as the good man does in his ; but the criminal is 1 H. H. Joachim, A Study of the Ethics of Spinoza, Oxford, 1 90 1, p. 73. 1 For the distinction of natura naturans and naturata, see Eth. i. 29, Sch. God as free cause is natura naturans ; natura naturata is all the modes of God's attributes, so far as they are con- sidered as things which are in God and which cannot either be or be conceived without God. See Mr. Joachim's note 1, p. 65. Mr. Joachim adds that Natura naturata is not the world of sense-percep- tion, but the universe in all its articulation as a per- fect understanding would grasp it, if that understand- ing apprehended it as the effect of God's causality." 44 SPINOZA AND TIME not on that account comparable with the good man. The more perfection a thing has, the more it participates in the divine nature and the more it expresses God's perfection. The good have incalculably more perfection than the vicious ; and therefore their " virtue " is not to be compared with the " virtue " of the vicious. . . .' (Ep. 19.) " It is in ' natura naturata,' the eternal system of modes, that those degrees of per- fection or reality are exhibited. For there is an order in the sequence of the modes from God's nature, and on that order their degree of perfection depends. The order is not a temporal, but a logical one. There is no before and after, no temporal succession, in the relation of the modes to God ; all modes are the eternal consequence of God's causality. But there is a logical priority and posteriority ; and on this their degrees of reality depend. ' That effect is the most perfect which is produced by God immediately ; and the more mediating causes which any effect requires, the less perfect it is.' (Eth. i. App.) " Now directly Time has become an attribute of the ultimate reality, this order ceases to be merely a logical one, and becomes temporal. The grades of modal perfection are no longer SPINOZA AND TIME 45 a ' static ' series of forms, but a hierarchy pro- duced in the order of time. The idea of evolution is introduced, and from matter or from before matter there have grown up in time the modes of physical existence, and thence the forms of life and finally of mind. Existence is stratified, level upon level with each its distinctive quality, and the strata are not barely superposed, but each higher level is the descendant in time of the lower. Hence, for instance, living things are not merely alive, but their life is a differentiation of physico-chemical body, and that body is but a particular complexity of mere matter. Upon what particular basis bare matter depends is a question not for the philosopher but the physicist to decide. If the old doctrine of the Timaus should be true, according to which solid matter is composed of elementary figures in space, we should have the notion here suggested as flowing from our gloss upon Spinoza, that the primary modes are the mere differentiations of bare Space-Time. But all the particular history of this long descent (or call it rather ascent) to higher levels of perfection amongst the modes is to be traced empirically under the guidance of science. (4) The last level of things accessible to our 46 SPINOZA AND TIME senses would be that of minds, or as Spinoza would call them thinking things. Thought, therefore, upon our gloss becomes not an attribute of the ultimate reality but the dis- tinguishing quality of the highest level of empirical things. We are left with Space and Time as the two attributes which our intellect perceives, and Time displaces Thought in the Spinozistic scheme. And yet we arrive also at a conclusion which seems to repeat Spinoza's view that thought is a universal feature of things, only with a difference. All things for him are in a sense animated, they are all in their degree thinking things. For us things which are not minds, which are merely alive or are inanimate, are no longer minds, but they do bear an aspect, or contain in themselves an element, which corresponds to the aspect or element of mind in a thinking thing. That aspect or element is Time. We may express the relation between the orders of modes in two different ways. We may say that life is the mind of the living body, colour the mind of the coloured material body, matter or materiality the mind of the spatio- temporal substructure of a material body. In doing so, we are humouring our propensity to construe things on the pattern of what is SPINOZA AND TIME 47 most familiar to us, our own selves, in which mind is united with a living body ; and are just comparing one set of empirical things with another. The other way penetrates more deeply into the nature of things. It starts with a piece of space-time, in which there are the bare aspects of its space and its time, and it construes thinking things after the pattern of this. One portion of the living thing, let us say its brain, is at once a peculiarly differentiated portion of space and corre- spondingly and inevitably a peculiarly differ- entiated complex of time. Were it not for the peculiar complexity of the brain, we should have the brain a merely living structure ; as it is, when living matter is so differentiated as to be a brain, its time element becomes mind, or rather the character of mentality. It is as if we had a clock which not only showed the time but was the time it showed. According, then, to the one method all things are, as Spinoza says, thinking things, and in the end, paradoxical as it sounds to say so, Time is the mind of Space. According to the other, mind is the time of its brain, life the time of the living parts of the living body and the like. On either method we realize the same truth that all the world and 48 SPINOZA AND TIME everything in it are constructed on the same plan, which betrays itself most plainly in our thinking bodies. But the Spinozistic method is a comparison of the modes with one another ; the other method views the modes in the light of the ultimate or a priori reality from which they derive. The same result is reached from a different consideration. Thinking things know, they have ideas. The idea of a tree which I have when I see one is for Spinoza the thought- aspect of the bodily condition into which I am thrown by the action of the tree upon my bodily senses. Or as we should say nowadays, it is the inner side of the brain-process. What is a brain-process under the attribute of extension is an idea or thinking process under the attribute of thought. To think of the tree means to have an idea or a bodily process which would be different if the tree were replaced by a table ; and accordingly if for some reason or other this bodily condition recurs in the absence of the tree I still have the tree before my view as an image. Whether this is or is not a true account of the knowing process is under some discussion at the present moment among philosophers. But that does not concern us here. What does concern us is that it applies in its degree to all things alike whether minds in the empirical sense or not. The stone knows its surroundings in the same way as we know ours, though of course not to the same extent. Now, if this is so, it would seem again, that thought or knowing is a universal character of things and might claim therefore to be an attribute. Yet once more, thought as knowing is in truth merely a relation among the modes. In so far as my mind or the stone is affected by other things, it knows them. Accordingly knowing, being an affair of modes inter se, is not an attribute. For an attribute is not a character which arises out of the interrelation of modes, but every mode intrinsically possesses a char- acter in so far as it is considered under an attribute. We again arrive at the conclusion that thought is empirical, not a priori or ultimate ; and so far Space and Time are seen to exhaust the attributes of reality.