divendres, 19 de juny de 2015

For we are faced with a dilemma. All the attributes are in a metaphorical phrase co-extensive, and accordingly my mind is identical not only with my body 1 A reader not interested in Spinoza scholarship may be recommended to pass over this section but with modes under all the other attributes — let us take one of them for short and call it the ^-attribute. Why then do I not perceive my #-ian mode as well as my body ? I do not, and Spinoza insists that I cannot (Ep. 64). But if so, there must be thought - modes which correspond not only to body- modes, as they do, but to *-modes, that is (to quote Mr. Joachim *), " there are modes of Thought which are not the thought-side of modes of Extension, and the ' completeness ' of the Attribute of Thought is more full than the ' completeness ' of any other Attribute," or as Tschirnhaus put it, the attribute of Thought is much wider than the other Attri- butes — is in fact coextensive with them all. Even Mr. Joachim regards the difficulty as insoluble. One commentator, Sir F. Pollock, in his excellent book, 2 reminding us that an Attribute is what intellect perceives in Sub- stance as constituting its essence, has accepted this last result and given Spinoza's doctrine a kink in the direction of idealism. Yet exactly the same kind of reflection might with proper changes be applied to Extension, which would then be wider than all the other attri- butes, and Spinoza might thus receive a kink in the direction of materialism. Spinoza himself answers Tschirnhaus briefly, and per- haps a little impatiently, in a letter which I will quote (Ep. 66) : "In answer to your objection I say, that although each particular thing be expressed in infinite ways in the infinite intellect of God, yet those infinite ideas, whereby it is expressed, cannot con- stitute one and the same mind of a particular thing, but infinite minds ; seeing that each of these infinite ideas has no connection with the rest (and he refers to Eth. ii. 7, and Sch. i. 10). If you will reflect on these passages a little, you will see that all the difficulty vanishes." CURAVI CUM CURARE HUMANAS ET UH MANOS ACTIONES NUM RIDERE SOMBRIUS NON LUGERE SENÃO APANHAM SOL E INDA APANHAM UM TIRO ASSIM BRANQUINHOS FICAM FINOS ...NEQUE SOCRATES DETESTARI SED INTELLIGERE....IN SPÍNOLA BY SPINOZA Spinoza and Time ...BUT NOT SPACE ...IS A SPACELESS JEW of Sephardi Portuguese origin....THE WORLD OF EVENTS: TIME AS INTRINSIC IF Time.become familiar with Time , to take Time seriously, an essential ingredient in the constitution of things. Mr. Bergson, indeed, has declared Time to be the ultimate reality. The mathematicians and physicists refer things no longer to three axes of coordinates, but to four, the fourth being the time axis. It will take much thought between physicists and philosophers in co-operation before opinion settles down upon the exact amount of reality we are to ascribe to Time and its companion Space, whether they are in the strict sense realities at all, or only constructions of the mind, and what their relation to each other is. But there is one proposition which is vital to the understanding of the theory of relativity, and is presupposed in its finished form as put forward by Mr. Einstein, and that is the proposition that the world is a world of events. I fancy we are accustomed to think of the world as a mass of things spread out in one comprehensive Space, and somehow or other Time is merely an interesting addition, whereby things happen and have a history. The discovery of Time means that we are to rid ourselves of this innocent habit of mind, and regard the world as through and through and intrinsically historical, and treat every- thing in it as events, not merely what are obviously events, but the most permanent things also, which seem to us fixed in their repose — stones and hills and tables — which become what Mr. Whitehead calls " chunks of events." This is the simple meaning of the proposition of the mathematicians that we live in a four-dimensional world. It is another and purely mathematical way of saying that Time is not something which happens to extended things, but that there is no extended thing which is not temporal, that there is no reality but that of events, and that Space has no reality apart from Time, and that in truth neither has any reality in itself, but only as involved ih the ultimate reality of the system of events or Space- Time. It is really quite a simple proposition, and though it is revolutionary enough, it is not so revolutionary as it sounds. In particular we are not to imagine that, as many people, I think, fear, Mr. Einstein and his predecessors have discovered a new kind of thing or sub- stance. A reputable illustrated newspaper gave a picture of what a cube was like in four dimensions : it seemed to be surrounded by a kind of aura or haze. This comes from supposing that the four dimensions are all spatial, whereas the fourth is Time. Things, I may assure you, are in the four-dimensional world exactly what we are familiar with. The only difference is that we have learnt that they are four-dimensional, chunks of events. We have been living all our lives in four dimensions, but have only just come to know it, just as . Jourdain discovered that he had been talking prose all his life without knowing it. In his book on Dickens, Mr. Chesterton observes that M. Jourdain's delight at this discovery showed that he had the freshness of the romantic spirit. And I do not know anything more romantic than that the common things which surround us, including our own selves, have all this time been in the mathematical sense four-dimensional. It will not make them different, nor ourselves better, any more than when Berkeley maintained that bodies were but ideas in the mind, he maintained them to be less solid than before, though the unmetaphysical Dr. Johnson believed so. We have only gained a deeper and more satisfying insight. Accordingly, since Time has thus stepped into the foreground of speculative interest, it seemed to me that I could best respond to the invitation of this Society to deliver the Arthur Davis Memorial Lecture by asking how far Spinoza could guide us to an under- standing of Time and of the part which it plays in the reality of the world. The seventeenth century was in philosophy as well as in physical science the seminal period of European thought, and, at least in all the questions that lie on the borderland of phi- losophy and physics, we are nearer to the great philosophers of that time than we are to those of the nineteenth century, and our minds go back to them to get their help or make clear to ourselves how we differ from them. Spinoza is more particularly suitable to consult, apart from the interest which any Jewish society must needs take in one of the greatest of Jews. For has not Heine said of him, with as much truth as wit, alluding to Spinoza's occupation of a maker of lenses, that all subsequent philosophers have seen through glasses which Spinoza ground ? I do not, however, propose to enter minutely into Spinoza's philosophy. There are two ways of approaching a great philosopher. The one is to study his precise teaching, setting it into relation with his age and with his contemporaries and immediate predecessors. I have the greatest admiration for those who perform this work of scholarship, which is the only satisfactory and respectful method of understanding a philosoper, requiring as it does both historical research and the most sympathetic philosophical insight. But it is beyond my competence, and the only addition I shall attempt to make to the interpretation of Spinoza I shall have to omit in addressing you for want of time. I shall follow the other and easier method of inquiring what a phi- losopher can teach us in our present problems. Relying on those who have expounded him for us with such care, I shall repeat what he has to say upon Time, and then I shall ask, in view of the new prospects opened by our present speculation, what difference it would make to Spinoza's philosophy if we assign to Time a position not allowed to it by Spinoza himself, but suggested by the difficulties and even obscurities in which he has left it. SPINOZA'S CONCEPTION OF TIME THE trouble is that there is very little to say about Spinoza's conception of Time. It stands for the general character which things have of existence : they exist for a longer or a shorter time, according as they are determined by other things. Thus the momentary closing of a current produces a flash of light ; if the current remains switched on, the light endures. But when we speak thus we are, according to Spinoza, not using the language of philosophy but of imagination. We are comparing one duration of time with another in our sensible world, and we may even conceive of these bits of time as limitations of an indefinite duration. But neither the bits of duration nor the indefinite duration are true realities. We are but using relative measures of duration ; because we are considering things as if they were separate from one another and had an independent existence, whereas thev are but manifestations of the one reality which is God. Now just as Newton contrasts what he calls the relative measures of time with absolute Time, we might expect Spinoza to contrast these pieces of duration with Time or Duration as such. This is what he does when he considers Space or Extension. There too, when we speak of lengths and figures of things, we are not dealing with reality except in the confused manner of imagination. There are no separate lengths and figures, but only Space as such, which is God under a certain attribute, and is indivisible into lengths. But Spinoza does not contrast durations with duration as such, but with eternity, and eternity is not Time, but is timeless. When he declares that there is something eternal in the human mind, which lies at the basis of our experience that we are immortal, he does not mean that we are immortal in the sense of indefinite continuance after death. To be eternal is to be comprehended in the nature of God, and things are real in so far as they are thus comprehended and are seen in the light of eternity, sub specie quddam aeternitatis. Thus times are not contrasted with Time as bits of space with Space, but with timelessness. Had he treated Time as he treats Space, Time would have been an attribute of God. As it is, Time is no more than a character of finite things. I am proposing to explain what difference it would make to Spinoza's philosophy if, to make an impossible hypothesis, he had treated Time as an attribute of God. It is not so much to be wondered at that Spinoza has failed to conceive the relation of finite times to infinite Time with the same clearness as he has conceived that of finite spaces to infinite Space. Time is indeed thoroughly perplexing, in a way in which at first sight Space is not. For bits of space can be kept together before our minds at once, and though we cannot imagine Space as a whole, but only an indefinitely large space, we can readily think of it. But we cannot do this with the parts of time. For Time is successive ; there is no sense in a duration which is not a duration that is passing away, and when you experience a moment of time, the immediately preceding moment is gone. Otherwise Time would be a kind of Space. No doubt we do experience Time as not merely a succession but as a duration, as something that lasts : the moments of time are not discontinuous, but are as much continuous as the points of space. But how can we in our thoughts reconcile the persistence of Time which we experience, with its habit of dying from one moment to another ? You will say the past is preserved for us in memory, in which the past and the present are before our minds together, just as the parts of space, distant and near, are before our eyes together. But now comes Mr. Bergson and says that when we thus conceive Time we are spatializing it, turning it into Space, and urges that the Time we thus spatialize is not real Time. There are more ways than one of meeting these difficulties. One was the naive answer of Descartes, to which we shall recur, that things are conserved and endure, because they are being re-created by God at each moment. This is the very ne plus ultra of the conception that I alluded to, that things are extended, and that Time happens to them. A nether way is to show that Space and Time are not independent of each other, but as the mathematicians say, are but aspects or elements of Space-Time. Spinoza takes neither one view nor the other, yet he gives us indications which stimulate the reflecting mind to pass from the one to the other. ...Sedulo curavi humanas actiones non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere

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. 

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