Margaret Cavendish’s Philosophical Letters

Thanks to a very helpful email from Jonathan Shaheen, I just updated The Letters in the Philosophical Letters, my page that tries to say what each of the many letters is about. PL 4.23 refers, I learn, to Constantijn Huygens. As the page now says: Number: 4.23Topic: On assorted further questionsReference: Includes a reference to a Mr …

Puzzling about Spinoza on expression (part 2)

My previous post asked some questions about Spinoza’s notion of expression. I’m particularly interested in – puzzled by, really – the expression done by attributes and modes. In that post, I asked whether it helped to think of Spinoza’s talk of expression using the model provided by Leibniz’s claim that “every effect expresses its cause” (Discourse on …

Puzzling about Spinoza on expression (part 1)

Writing about Leibniz on expression got me thinking about other early modern talk about expression, and in particular about Spinoza, who talks several times in his Ethics about things expressing others. Some of this expressing involves language, but other cases seem not to. Thus both attributes and modes are said to express things. For example, 1p6 talks of the infinite attributes of …

Whatever happened to the theory of supposition?

Reading Arash Abizadeh’s recent “The Absence of Reference in Hobbes’s Philosophy of Language” reminds me of something that puzzles me about early modern philosophy of language. Whatever happened to the theory of supposition? If you look at medieval scholastic theories of language, you find repeated mention of signification and supposition, two semantic features of terms. …

Leibniz, internal action, and experience

Leibniz sometimes describes thought as an internal action (see this earlier Modsquad discussion). Moreover, in a couple of places he says that we can know this by experience. Indeed, he suggests we can know enough in this area by experience to establish some substantive philosophical truths about the mind. Thus, in “On Nature Itself” (1698): Indeed, …

Hobbes and Thucydides

Hobbes on the state of nature: In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much …