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So he concludes that all essences relate, or are attributable to, substance, because substance is the only being whose existence necessarily follows from essence. Let us assume that an attribute a is the essence of x.

This would leave us with the conclusion that there is one substance per attribute or that an attribute is itself a substance. Now for two reasons Deleuze needs to reject this thesis.

He does not wish to accept that an attribute is a substance, as this would leave him with pluralism or dualism rather than monism. We can see that the argument that there is one substance per attribute relies on the assertion that the attribute attributes its essence as to something else, that is, it does not, itself, have necessary existence.

Yet even if we concede this point we are left with two responses. We could reply that we only know one attribute, Thought, and this is known through itself, which means that it is self-caused and independent, and this means that there is only one substance — Mind. He will have to demonstrate more convincingly that the attribute of Thought is not the only attribute. Alternatively, we might claim that because there is one substance per attribute and many attributes there must be many substances and this would mean that there is pluralism rather than monism.

Aside from the weak a posteriori argument, the above arguments rely on the principle of non-contradiction: because it would be a contradiction to assert more than one substance and because there is more than one attribute we are forced to conclude that an attribute cannot be a substance. We could deny that if there were more than one substance, the substances would be in limiting, either conceptual or material, relationships.

One substance for all attributes Initially and somewhat surprisingly there appears to be some overlap between the proofs that there is one substance per attribute and one substance for all attributes. The latter proof depends on two basic principles: the more reality a thing has, the more attributes it has and the more attributes a thing has the more existence it has. The primary principle is that because each attribute is not itself a substance, each must attribute its essence to something else: an attribute is attributed to a substance. From here Deleuze moves to the proposition that all attributes are attributed to a single substance.

Actually the proof is very short and it is that attributes must be attributed to the same substance because there can only be one substance. This something else is substance. We know that there is only one substance 45 , therefore each attributes its essence to the same substance The claim is that an attribute is attributive because it does not have necessary existence. This raises a whole host of problems and queries. We have already suggested that 22 Deleuze and Spinoza in some sense the attribute can be described as a reason or cause of substance and also that substance is self-caused.

It would seem that the logical implication is that substance, or God, must be causa sui under each attribute. If an attribute is an essential property of something then F a such that a is F in all possible worlds. Now there are two possibilities. Alternatively there might be only one substance and two essential properties such that a is both F and G. Deleuze clearly admits that an attribute expresses an essence 13, 45, 50, 57 but also claims that an attribute expresses the essence of substance 13, 37, 50, This really confuses the issue.

Is it the case that a is the same in all cases? If it is, then is a identical to its essence? If so, then is it the case that F and G are identical? Let us develop this second case. That a is both F and G cannot mean F a and not F a. This is interesting because if a is a substance which is identical to all its attributes, and if F is an attribute, then if F expresses the essence of substance, it must also express all the other attributes. If F expresses all the attributes then it expresses attributes other than itself and so other attributes would be involved with F and F cannot be conceived through itself.

Yet the assertion that an attribute is considered per se is quite pivotal to the previous arguments. He states that an attribute is something that is conceived without the aid of another thing, is really distinct and through 2d6 perfect. But if we understand negation as limitation we encounter a circle, one that will be repeated. This is not a good answer. This, though, addresses a different point. Finally, Deleuze admits that one attribute is denied of another but alleges that this negation does not imply an opposition or a privation. The argument is either unusable or introduces negation into the general scheme.

Either Deleuze must accept that each attribute expresses the essence of substance and that there are many substances pluralism or he must accept that there is only one attribute, for example the attribute of Thought idealism.


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His answer is to convince us that an attribute is a verbal entity and that therefore such distinction between the attributes need introduce neither substantial multiplicity nor negation into being. Pluralism or idealism? The ontological argument in Expressionism depends on the fact of there being really distinct attributes. Indeed, we ought to ask at this point who or what is doing the conceiving? Subjectivists, or idealists, as an answer to the problem of pluralism, claim that attributes are inventions of the human intellect. An objectivist would reject this interpretation for four reasons.

Secondly, Spinoza implies that the intellect is successful in its comprehension and marks something actual.

The third objection is that substance reveals and constitutes itself through the attributes. As a response to the subjectivists, Deleuze argues that there is real distinction,19 which seems to put him in the objectivist camp and to run the risk of pluralism. This would mean keeping the idea that attributes are conceived per se but rejecting the implication that this means a distinction among things which would imply a pluralist thesis.

Hardt suggests that Deleuze was undisturbed by the subjectivist and objectivist argument and for this reason does not treat the issue in any depth. I believe that Deleuze was well aware that if he were unable to clarify the relationship between attribute and substance then his whole project would fail.

Front matter

Weak thesis of real distinction The proposition now before us is that one substance has formally distinct attributes. Trying to avoid the pitfalls of dualism and reductionism, it seems as though Deleuze introduces a double aspect theory such that a is the sort of entity to which the predicates or properties of thought and God 25 extension are equally applicable.

These references to the attributes though play a key role within the general argument. I have to confess that I have struggled to clarify the argument Deleuze intends and have had to do some work to reconstruct the argument; both a response to the problem of pluralism and the foundation for the proof of the actual existence of God.

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From the latter source Deleuze draws his inspiration that the notion of formal distinction can be tied into acts of expression. It has to be said that Deleuze tends to reference names as though demarcating systems or expressing arguments. This creates the affect of a scholarly work, well researched, brimming with interesting ideas and new angles. However as soon as the reader scratches the surface, the richly woven tapestry simply begins to disintegrate. So what does Deleuze take from Scotus?

Formal distinction occupies a point midway between rational or conceptual distinction and real distinction.

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The argument, as presented by Cross, is that the general thesis depends upon the theory of univocity. Because these terms mean different things when applied to creatures, they must be different from one another and if they were not distinct in God they would not be distinct in creatures either. Scotus argued that identity could be explained as the impossibility of real inseparability.

Two objects, x and y, are inseparable if and only if, it is not possible for x to exist without y and it is not possible for y to exist without x. There are three problems. Surely Deleuze cannot merely assume this as his underlying ontology? Secondly, the medieval theologian devised this type of argument within a different environment where there was no need to prove the uniqueness or indivisibility of God as these propositions were all known to be true through biblical revelation.

The principal ontological axiom is that there is one God who is indivisible. So where God is concerned the intriguing question is how an indivisible being can have essential properties that cannot actually be separated but which can be known distinctly. Indeed, for Scotus, the idea of formal distinction when applied to God is only metaphorical because one essence is manifest in all the different properties. Thirdly, these ruminations concern a transcendent God. This raises two further points.

Deleuze is emphatic that one of the properties or attributes of God is Extension. For Scotus this would be absurd. A thorough account of the actual philosophical relevance is problematic. Our access to this aspect of the philosophy of the Stoa is primarily through commentators, such as Sextus and Diogenes Laertius, who offer divergent accounts of the Stoic theory of signs and the Stoics themselves contested the meaning and existence of lekta.

One explanation for this is that Stoics concentrated on the logical relationship between the antecedent and consequent rather than on the evident or non-evident nature of the consequent. Incomplete lekta are divided into two classes, roughly subjects and predicates. A subject is a generic term for entities expressed by individual or class names. Although much of what we know about Stoic logic and theory of meaning has been inherited in fragmentary forms and scraps of doctrine, we can see a number of similarities, between Stoic semantics and 28 Deleuze and Spinoza certain modern theories, particularly those of Carnap and Frege, and these are discussed by Mates.

A Critical Study of Deleuze and Spinoza

I contend that Deleuze requires something like a Fregeian account, to help bridge the gap in Stoic theory concerning the principle of interchangeability, in order to prove that attributes and substance are convertible In short, then, Deleuze is looking for a way to demonstrate how we can know that two expressions, with distinct senses, refer to the same object.

At the beginning of this chapter we noted that the Stoics explained physical events as logos operating through the dynamic character of pneuma. Logoi, he says, are neither propositions nor statements about Ideas, any more than they are concepts or statements about Being. But because logos exhibits the ratio of intelligibility of beings it is something that is common to beings and to speech in so far as both exhibit the Idea. To help clarify all these different functions he uses the term logoi and draws two examples from the Ethics. The argument here is that attributes are distinct names or divine words, that names can be distinguished by their senses even when they designate the same object 44, The former description is the same as a God 29 description under the attribute of Extension, the latter under the attribute of Thought.

If it is the latter is an attribute a proper name? If it is the former then is it a name of a concept-word or a function? Finally we shall need to enquire into the ontological status of the concept itself. Without using something like Fregeian theory of sense and reference to plug the holes in the argument, I do not see how Deleuze could possibly argue how it can be known that the attributes are attributed to the same substance.

Without this he cannot argue that there is only one substance. Without this he would be unable to begin his argument that substance is self-caused or that God actually exists. I have reconstructed the argument to show how Deleuze might justify the various philosophical moves he makes. Within Stoic taxonomy, a verb is said to signify a predicate, a lekton, but both common and proper names are said to signify properties and these do not occur in the list of lekta.